The Hundredth Meridian

Navajoland: II

We had gone barely 25 yards when I had a feeling of the woods dissolving around us, and then we were hanging our toes over a bare rock ledge at which the world dropped away. From 20 miles out Black Mesa appeared to float in space like a long dark cloud bisected by a pillar of dust rising half a mile into the desert sky. George watched me for some time before he spoke. "Well" "Magnificent," I told him.

We descended to a narrow ledge for a closer look at the arch hundreds of feet below through which swallows passed almost quicker than the eye could follow; somewhere the wind-down call of a canyon wren sounded. Then we began to work along the cliff face after Shane, who had disappeared. We found him ten minutes later seated on an outcrop of sandstone rock hugging his bare knees with his wrists and wearing his cap pulled over his eyes. When we sat beside him he pushed back the cap and gave me a challenging look. "What do you think of this country?" Shane demanded. "Beautiful," I said. "I think it's boring," he replied, and commenced staring into the empyrean. George unwrapped a granola bar he had taken from the pack, broke it in two pieces, and offered me one. "What are you looking at?" he asked the boy. "My sheep," Shane answered, without moving his eyes. "Where are they? I don't see any sheep." Using fieldglasses I scanned the plain below for sheep...

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