the waters may seem peaceful. Light

on the pale rocks, rose petals

on the path but night after night

three species in the well act

out a life and death drama

under the waves. At the center

of the action is the tiny

amphipod. This crustacean

looks like a shrimp but is no

bigger than your smallest

finger nail. During the day,

amphipods swim and feed

near the center of the well,

just out of reach of diving ducks

and other predators. But

at night, while those hunters

sleep, a new threat rises

from below, leeches. These

invertebrates do not such

blood like other of their

species, they eat amphipods.

The amphipods flee to

towards the water’s edge


only to encounter yet

another predator, the

water scorpion. I the

pond weed surrounding

the water, the amphipods

must remain as still as

they can until the sun

rises again





an oasis in a harsh

desert. A peaceful

pond yet the setting

of a nightly struggle

between living and

dying. It’s water

sculpts the land at

the well, all the layers

or rock penetrated

and eroded by this

water has left a

chemical signature

on it– the water

contains arsenic

and high amounts

of carbon dioxide

which means no fish can

live here, they simply

can’t breathe





in 1864 a group of men exploring

the area around Beaver Creek

found and named Montezuma’s

well. Nettles and Hackberry

catch on my yoga pants. This surprise,

a lake and lush vegetation in the

middle of a desert. A limestone sink

still fed by and never stopping

continuous flowing springs. The

water bubbling into Montezuma’s

well fell millions of years ago

out of the Mogollon





the first people entered this

landscape 10,000- 13,000years ago before

the pueblo walls were built atop

the ridge’s steep rocks. Tho

the land looks dry, this was the bread

basket for hundreds of generations

of hunters and gatherers. Cacti, mesquite,

yucca and juniper provided food,

medicine, crafts and toys. Empty now, these

rooms were filled with sounds

of life, hard work grinding and pounding

corn into powder, laughter and

crying, solemn meetings,

joyful celebrations , birth death, sex

and dying. The limestone ridges, remnants

of a primeval time when

Verde Valley was covered by

shallow lakes, dried up sandy playas

2 to 8 million years ago





at the base of the northern ridge

several small springs produce 9 to

12 gallons of water every second,

an incredibly important resource in

this desert environment. In pre-

historic times, they likely gushed

even more bringing millions of gallons

of water to Tauasci Marsh. Suddenly

the parched desert bursts with the

green — grasses give way to cat tails,

sedge and other aquatic species.

Cotton woods grow in the moist

areas away from the bank and a

little further from its water,

velvet mesquite, cat claw

and acacia thrive





small field houses


some slept near their crops

at times, woke in the night,

listened for animals

in the blossoms


It was almost like music

hearing stillness

in the cornleaves


some sang blessings

before lying down to sleep





to use spears, bows, throwing

sticks and arrows. Clubs and

snares. Domesticated dogs, Turkeys

and maybe a few blue and red

macaws . They used to dogs to flush

out rabbits from cover when

they weren’t coiled in the cove of

a young girl’s arms



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