Red: Color of the high desert country
Sunrises and sunsets over this high desert country are fabulous at this time of year. They often look as if someone took a match and fired up an entire bank of burners.
Ripples of red, orange and yellow dispersed across the heavens warm the bones and afford great satisfaction. The deep red tones seen just before dawn and just as the sun sets are the most rich and vibrant.
It may sound funny, but because of the added inner warmth and marshaled mental state, my mind frequently focuses on friends and family.
In Navajo relationships, the color red is especially meaningful; it is the color of "The People," those who have allowed us into their culture, tradition and lives. Many have shared with us their artistic talents.
Their deep skin tones contrast with our "pink" coloration. Because of them, however, we have been able to sustain our trading post and live a satisfying life in this country, which is rife with canyons, mesas and mountains.
To the Navajo, red (ltci, ltci', litci 'igi) is a powerful and symbolic color. It represents danger, war and sorcery, as well as safeguards against such occurrences.
In the story of the Hero Twins, First Man gave a prayer stick colored with blue paint and sparkling earth, symbols of peace and happiness, to Child-of-the-Water to watch while his brother, Monster Slayer, went on one dangerous adventure after another.
When the warrior got into serious trouble, the prayer stick turned blood red. At the close of the Night Chant participants see the red of the sunset because Child-of-the-Water traveled on darkness when he journeyed to join his brother.
The Navajo deity Talking God explained the color as it is represented in the War Ceremony, instructing Monster Slayer, "This [red] represents the blood that will flow on the soil. Both ours and that of our enemy."
The color red is also found in ceremonial baskets that symbolize the joining of blood, marriage, children and family.
The Simpson family first came to Bluff in the mid-1950s, back when Daddy Duke's hair color was still of a sandy red hue.
There have been many a blood-red sunrise and sunset since then, and over time our clan has set down roots and grown in this rocky red soil.
We have raised our red-headed children here, and you will find their handprints and footprints memorialized in the concrete in front of our businesses.
Here we will likely stay until the time one of the towering rocks comes crashing down or they scatter our ashes across the red sandstone landscape. Amen.