So late July found me (and my family) in (mythical) Cormac McCarthy country, at the Three River Petroglyph site near Three Rivers, New Mexico, which is a cool (and hot) place to be. We camped there for three days, watching thunderstorms that evoked these lines from McCarthy’s Blood Meridian: “All night sheetlightning quaked sourceless to the west beyond the midnight thunderheads, making a bluish day of the distant desert, the mountains on the sudden skyline stark and black and livid like a land of some other order out there whose true geology was not stone but fear” (47).
The petroglyphs are impressive. On a hot afternoon, we hiked along a ridge above the plains or “malpais,” which figures directly in Blood Meridian, and the petroglyphs (or some of them, at least) are believed to have been made by the Jornada Mogollon people a thousand years ago. Animal figures predominate, as this example of a raven and a Bighorn sheep attest, complete with arrows in the sheep:
Next week I’ll be giving a lecture at the Cormac McCarthy Society’s annual convention, on a comparison of Cormac McCarthy’s and Leo Tolstoy’s views of history, so in a way you could argue I was doing research.