Second Helpings

By Louise Hogan* Colligan

Did I return to Lupita and Jon McClanahan's farm because I knew the second time around there would be a full moon? No, it was just sublime luck that my hiking plans and the full moon were in alignment on my second visit to Canyon de Chelly. Besides, how could a full-moon visit be any more beautiful than my first moonless one? When the moon was in shadow, but millions of stars dusted the black sky an arm's length away? When I sensed the forms of the sheltering rocks in the darkness but could not entirely make them out?

Whereas, whereas . . . the second time around, the moon rose in a row of evenings over the canyon walls, bathing them in poured silver. If you were a night bird flying over the valley where Lupita and Jon's farm lies, you would have seen Grandfather Fire illuminate a circle of glowing faces. If you were one of those faces, you would have heard Grandfather Fire crackling in his grandfatherly way and sending up embers to Father Sky. Jon would have taught you the importance of leaving room around the fire; Grandfather needs air and space to do his work.

During day hikes, Jon and Lupita would have introduced you to Grandfather's children, Mother Earth and Father Sky, our perfect parents. Like them, Lupita and Jon would have guided you to your own best self. They would have deepened your respect for the beautiful earth we walk on. Lupita would have helped you discover your creative spirit by telling you her Spider Woman stories in the shadow of Spider Rock. Together, Jon and Lupita would have given you complete confidence, the kind that comes from perfect trust, to take on hair-raising physical challenges. They would have shared with you the stories of their lives and beliefs, which are the same. They would have made you laugh the way you laughed when you were a child--until your face and ribs ached. They would have brought forth your gratitude for the existence of such a heaven as their farm in Canyon de Chelly.

Jon and Lupita are two of its guardians. Go there. Meet them.

* Hogan, the name of the round Navajo dwelling, is my actual name. In several of my grammar school history books was the sentence: "Indians live in a hogan." Back in third and fourth grade, I hoped no one would be called upon to read that sentence aloud. I didn't want anyone to stare at me or say: "Louise Hogan is an Indian house!"

I wish.

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