Friday, October 17, 2008
The grave watcher
When Geronimo dictated his life story to S.M. Barrett he described the burial of a warrior. The body was laid to rest in a cave and hidden by piles of stones.
There are countless piles of stones in the rimrock. Most fell from the cliffs above and make sense geologically.
Other rock piles don't fit in. There's no indication they fell from the ceiling above. They are weathered differently and out of place.
This was one of those rock piles. It was made from rocks down the hill. Plus there are stone hammers and pottery shards nearby.
Who visits this place?
I propped the camera on a ledge above the grave.
The grave keeper was a white-throated wood rat (Neotoma albigula).
It looks like it's recovering from a gunshot wound, but that hole was made by a botfly larva.
The Apaches know about wood rats. When Geronimo surrendered in southern Arizona and signed the peace treaty near Skeleton Canyon his band entrusted $150 in Mexican currency to a wood rat's nest.
They knew the money was safe with the rats, that the nests last practically forever. No doubt they intended to come back.
A year later cavalrymen found the money and cowboys destroyed the stone monument that marked the site.
But there's a good chance the descendents of that woodrat are still there.
Barrett, S.M. (editor) 1983. Geronimo's story of his life. S.M. Barrett. Irvington Publisher, New York (originally published in 1906 by Duffield and Company)