This cold desert drowns in rain. The heat wave vanished, as clouds come strolling in over the Paria desert, just northwest of Page, Arizona. Water pelts the ground, breaking up the hard dirt. Thunder gallops across the vista, and the wind wails. Lightning flings its arms. In a pinion tree, sits a raven waiting with his head bobbed down. He’s dangling like a Christmas ornament. Water droplets fall from his folded wings, and from his dark tail feathers.
Under an alcove, I wait out the storm. Long ago, ancient Puebloans were hunting and gathering beneath these skies. I could just imagine them traversing up flashflood washes, where white caliche grows on rocks and tree branches, along Cottonwood strewn riverbanks that flow from sandstone canyons.
The raven ruffles his feathers, then flies from the pinion, landing on the ground 10-15 yards away. The little fellow just stands looking at me. Maybe he wants something to eat? I say nothing at all.
His shiny feather coat is perfect. Everything is black. His long beak stays closed and humble. By sage brush and wavy grasses, he rests. Letting the windy valley around, swallow him. Soon he squats, and bows his head falling asleep like a chicken at roost.
The desert is warm colored; dark red sandstone, deep purple clay, orange-pink cliffs, and yellow-tan mesas. The raven is surrounded by all these colors. Together they communicate the deepest message to my heart, that the beauty of this land is forever magnificent and rugged.