Hello Friends and Family,

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In previous issues, I’ve mentioned that my regular Sunday routine is a morning hike in South Mountain Park very near my townhouse — and this Sunday was no exception. The sky was totally clear with not even a hint of a cloud. The weather was cool — about 58° F — but hiking in the sun makes it feel warmer than that — in fact, warm enough to bring on a sweat.

A few weeks ago I followed a trail that I had not been on before and encountered a treasure trove of petroglyphs. In case you don’t know what they are — petroglyphs are geometric, animal and human figures that have been scratched into the surface of a rock (removing the outer oxidized layers revealing the raw rock below) by ancient peoples. Yep, ancient graffiti! Right here in South Mountain Park.

This Sunday I retraced my steps but carried my camera so I could share with you.

The photo at the left shows the most visible petroglyph that I found. Even the experts are not sure what the symbols mean. Your guess and my guess are as good as the experts. I especially liked the animal at the left — a coyote, perhaps. You don’t find deer or similar herbivores in the desert — and horses were re-introduced by the Europeans, probably after this petroglyph was carved. By process of elimination, I arrived at coyote. And what do you suppose the spiral represents? The figure in the middle reminded me of a corral — but that doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s a plan for a dwelling.

The next photo shows concentric circles — a pattern that I found repeated frequently. The sun, perhaps? The great spirit, source of all life on Earth? (By the way, the first photo above was not adjusted in any way. The one to the right and below are all adjusted to increase the contrast to make the patterns easier to see. The human eye is very good a seeing these patterns in their natural setting, however, not so good at discriminating the pattern from a naturally exposed photo.)

The next photo has three parts. The top box appears to contain a star — looking toward the heavens. The middle box appears to contain a circle and I cannot make out what is in the bottom box.

However, on a bright sunny, beautiful day it is intriguing to try and figure out what the Hohokam (or other native Americans) were communicating. South Mountain Park is so big and there are so many trails that even a busy Sunday, one can get lost in thought contemplating the meaning of something so simple, but yet so profound. When I was working, I did not have time for hiking the park much less such contemplation — but now, I love the feeling of being connected to these “ancient ones”.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com