Heading north from Barstow to our apartment, driving along Interstate 5, just before where we were to turn off to take state road 152 through the Pacheco Pass, we saw a little sign reading “Vista Point.” We turned off into a narrow, dreary parking area, and looked down into the California Aqueduct. There’s an explanatory sign that tells you why the California Aqueduct is important. I admit I didn’t read it; I was too interested to look at the water flowing through the uncovered aqueduct, and the parched grass on either side, and the green irrigated agricultural fields of the Central Valley in the distance. It was a hot summer day, and as I stood there looking at the aqueduct, I wondered how much of that water is lost to evaporation on its long journey to southern California.
We were almost the only whites in the Dine’ Restaurant this morning; and we were the only whites at the Window Rock post office; and the only whites at the Navajo Nation Museum, which doubles as a cultural center and meeting space. Of course we went to the bookstore in the Navajo Nation Museum, where, among other things, I bought I Swallow Turquoise for Courage, a book of poetry by the Navajo poet Hershman R. John. In the poem “Strong Male Rain,” John writes about his childhood fear of thunderstorms, and how he discovered that his friend “Darcy, a Jewish girl from Phoenix,” was also scared of thunder:
I told her about the Male Rain and what not to do during a storm.
She told me about Ean and his tale of the Kugelblitz.
I guess Jews and Navajos aren’t all that different.
We were both afraid of thunderstorms.
We have other past storms we were afraid of too.
She had the Holocaust
And I had America.
We drove up to the tribal park in Window Rock, and looked at the memorial to the Navajo Code Talkers of the Second World War. We also looked at the memorial that had a long list of Navajo who had died while serving in the U.S. military. Continue reading “Navajo Nation to Barstow”