Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Casa Grande Ruins

This morning I took a trip out to the Casa Grande Ruins. From where I live in Chandler, AZ, it's only a short drive down Arizona 87 to the town of Coolidge. Much of this drive takes you through the Gila River Reservation. This being the end of a long, hot summer, the desert has lost most of its greenery leaving the tall saguaros as the preeminent sign of life. They and the lovely mountains surrounding the desert are all that keep you company on this lesser traveled road.

I've been studying the prehistoric people of the southwest lately and when my reading turned to the Hohokam, it was time to pay a visit to the centuries old ruins. Growing up in Virginia, I studied history of course, but I never really had a sense of the ancient. I didn't get a feel for history in a practical way until some traveling in my twenties. Now, living in the southwest, I feel much more connected to an ancient time. It's not hard to gaze out upon miles of desert and imagine a prehistoric world.

The first picture above is my favorite. It's not of the main structure, but rather of several smaller ones in the compound. I like the sense of depth and the contrast created by the blue sky. Walking carefully around the ruins, I made an effort not to disturb any remnant walls or foundations. I could not resist, however, just resting my hand on the side of the great house. I took in a breath and thought respectfully of the hands that built the wall over 700 years ago. I am in awe of the incredible life the Hohokam lived in this rugged part of the earth. One thing I learned today that also amazed me, is that the Hohokam positioned certain round windows in the great house to align perfectly with the sun. There are windows marking the Summer Solstice and both the Spring and Autumn Equinox. In this way, they were able to calendar time.

This is how I spent my Wednesday morning. It's revitalizing to take a moment to connect with the past and dream of the future.

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