Back in 2012, two friends and I made it to the Bosque Redondo museum in beautiful Fort Sumner , New Mexico. It's quite pretty there, although hard to find,since the bigger draw in Fort Sumner is the Billy the Kid Museum and grave.
Yup, the supposed grave of a dead criminal. I know, right?
"Honey, get the kids!! We need a picture of them posing next to a criminal's grave!"
Anyway, we finally found the museum, waaaaay at the end of a road.
But I didn't get a chance to go out onto the land.
But, in November of 2013, I met...
Ted and Evie.
Or as they are formally known, Mr and Mrs
Theodore and Evelyn Charles, of Gallup , New Mexico.
Well, not in Gallup, they live in a two story hogan, a rarity, on a hill outside of Gallup.
Here they are, posing at Canyon de Chelly ( 'duh Shay) I seriously don't have a picture of the two of them without one of them either with their eyes shut, or someone having fun.
These two met in the early 1960's when she arrived at Rehoboth MIssion School in Gallup to work as a nurse. She was sweet and idealistic, and somewhat far from home. Ted had just gotten back from his time as a Marine and was the boy's dorm supervisor/muscle/counsellor/chief trouble maker.
And if I do say so myself, I *think* our Ted was somewhat of a flirt.
And here they are, 47 years later.
And he still makes her blush.
So, HOW does a Canadian living on the East Coast meet and travel all over New Mexico and Arizona with a Navajo man and his wife?
Short story? I met Kiersti Plog(http://kierstiplog.com), (Facebook/blog 'met') then I found Mark Charles' blog on Kiersti's blog roll (www.wirelesshogan.blogspot.com) and then Mark introduced me to his dad, Ted.
And so it began.
I spoke with Ted on the phone, for almost 90 minutes, and long story short, he suggested I come to New Mexico.
Umm, here's the thing.
I haven't got the time or money to go to New Mexico. My schedule is packed solid.
So I prayed about it...
And God opened the doors!
Backtracking...I drove from Colorado Springs with Amy Drown, and we arrived in Belen, had dinner and Andrew and Barbara and the next morning, Ted and Evie drove A LONG WAY to rendezvous with me in the (not) swank Super 8 in Belen.
Then we drove a long way to Fort Sumner. Like, a LONG way.
We got there, it was a gorgeous day, birds were singing, we were having a great time getting to know each other, the gates were locked and the sign said "no trespassers"
So, we ended up next door at the state fair grounds.
And the gates were chained there, too.
Thankfully, the sign said "no littering".
See those two?
We didn't litter.
Neither did Evie.
We discussed our options, and decided to climb the fence. Evie wasn't too thrilled about it, since it really was trespassing. But, technically, there was no sign to say "2 white girls and a Navajo man cannot climb this fence and wander over to museum property and climb that fence and wander around unsupervised".
And I did not come ALL THIS WAY to be deterred by a sign.
The pretty but poisonous Pecos.
Meandering through the prison camp, the only water source for miles.
It was a beautiful day.
We even found a squash vine. We wondered if that vine was part of a garden, 150 years ago.
Given that is was close to the riverbank and under a huge cottonwood tree, it may very well be a heritage plant.
Or, who knows?
See how flat the terrain is? Imagine thousands upon thousands of people there, living in squalid, inhumane conditions. It was SO BAD, that the government signed a treaty and let the remaining prisoners go.
The Navajo measure their history before Bosque Redondo, or as the Navajo call it, Hweeldi , which began in 1864 and after, 1868.
Some say the word Hweeldi is a derivative of the Spanish word fuerte.
What it was?
It was a living nightmare for 9500 Navajo.
And one of them was a little boy named Tsi'naginnie. (sit-nah-jin-ee).
One day, little Tsi'naginnie would grow up and have his own children, and one day, his grandson would come into the world.
Somewhere, across that field, all kinds of families existed and endured.
Including Ted's family.
The very interesting part of the "no trespassing"thing is that if the museum was open, we'd have never gotten so close to the river. Or in my case, onto a sand and gravel bar in the river.
And where does the second book in my series start?
In the river.
That night, after a long drive home, and a lot of discussion, we arrived at their home. But, this was my home for a few lovely days.
This is 'the little hogan', down the hill from their two story hogan.
What a peaceful, lovely place to think, and wonder, and be thankful for blessings I never saw coming.
Ask any one of the hundreds of people who've known and appreciated Ted and Evie's hospitality, about the little hogan, and they'll smile and sigh.
Because Ted and Evie know exactly how to walk in beauty.
Thank you, Evie and Ted, for the treasure of your time and wisdom..