A MILLION FROGS GIVE PRAISE
By Deborah Littlebird
Seven years ago, Larry Littlebird wrote an inspired story when we first arrived on the land at Hamaatsa. In the story he tells us, “I hear the sound of singing waters, I see crops coming alive and the animals returning to this land.”
Last night something occurred on the land. A miracle really.
The Arroyo de Tanos flowed rushing river-like water through the land. Must have rained hard up higher in the watershed --in the Ortiz Mountains that shadow the background of this stark landscape. How long have we yearned to see the water flow here on this land?
In the late afternoon, clouds begin to form. Dark clouds gather making a patchwork with still blue sky. The loving rain begins to softly sprinkle all around us. Sun and rain together. In the distance we watch vertical sheet like rain touching earth, the kind so often depicted in Pueblo Indian paintings and on their pottery. Thunder is walking. A double rainbow appears with a shaft of spectral light beaming down directly in front the Shepherds House porch! Then the rain falls hard, sideways, driving us inside the shelter of the little adobe. Door left open wide, we rejoice watching not wanting to miss a thing playing in this atmospheric land cinema. We watch and listen to this magnificent thunderstorm coming to dry parched land.
After a half hour of a good downpour the rain begins to dissipate and then Larry says, “I am going to go check where the water has run, so I can adjust my water runoff ditches.” Coming from an indigenous Southwest culture and People who are in constant relationship with the land, you learn to do things like this as if your life depends upon it. And it does!
I sit quietly inside listening to the gentle rain now lifting, smelling the fresh air, feeling the coolness in the adobe room. Suddenly Larry returns, rushing through the still open door, “Come! Hurry! The arroyo is running! It’s flowing!"
I quickly change into hiking shoes, grab a rain jacket and off I go toward the sandy Arroyo which I can see in the distance now looks like a huge roaring mountain river. Oh my goodness! Never have I seen such a sight! As I approach the water’s edge, I hear the sound of water, so purposeful and alive. It’s like it knows it’s own power. Healing power to the land, the creatures, the plants and the humans. It garners respect to stand here so close. Instantly, instinctively, I know one must not try to cross to the other side. The immense force would wash you away.
Being ever the photographer, my mind shifts to wanting to capture this event! Great I have my new iPhone with me. I must document this phenomena to share with our friends and family.
When folks visit Hamaatsa, they always ask us, “Does this arroyo ever have water in it?” “Not likely in this drought. We have never seen it run in seven years”, we always reply.
I hear the rocks speaking under the rushing water currents. I put my camera phone back in my pocket and just stand still now to listen. A talking river at Hamaatsa. How incredulous! Never in my most creative daydreaming could I imagine this.
And we are here. Now. Hamaatsa.
Larry is up ahead moving up stream. He calls back to me, “Come on, hurry!” He is a like a little boy with his quickened steps. The excitement is all about him. I smile at his sense of adventure, but I want to go slow. This is so significant on so many levels and I want to savor it. So I tell him, “Go on, I’ll catch up”.
I video, walk a little ways upstream, stop and listen again, video some more, stop and stand still again. Standing with my back toward the setting sun, I see the flowing stream begin to reflect the color red. I turn around and there is the most amazingly crimson cloud sunset I have ever seen here. I feel like I am in a fairytale, a world of make believe. My spirit tells me: You are really here -- standing in a place between heaven and earth.
Up the road, the arroyo is still rushing strong as twilight falls on land and water. In the background I hear an unusual sound. Like a truck stuck in mud revving it’s motor back and forth. No wait, it sounds like frogs. But that can’t be. There are no frogs here at Hamaatsa. Never seen one single frog. The sound is mystifying. As I walk up the road alongside the arroyo, I chirp my little turkey call to locate Larry. This is a familiar way in which we find each other when we are out and about on the land. I chirp again. No reply. I keep walking upstream. I resort to cell phone chirping and call Larry on my phone. He answers immediately, “Quick come up to the top of the road!” “What is that sound I ask him”. He replies, “It’s a million frogs giving praise!”
I get to the top of the road where there is a dry to the bone pond which has been resting in the heat year after year. It is now filled with water and there are frogs croaking. The sound fills the night. I close my eyes and just listen to this strange beautiful sound. The land is alive. Larry stands beside me and gently nudges me. I open my eyes just as the full moon rises in a peak notch of the Ortiz Mountains now a blackened backdrop in this mystical night. Oh my! The super full moon in July.
Miracle upon miracle unfolds that night. All at once and overtaking us with blessing. As we walk back to the house, I recall Larry’s story about the sound of singing waters returning to this this land. It has come, it arrived. Hamaatsa in Keres language means a place and a time arriving NOW! I feel wrapped in the wet evening balm of Creator’s grace and power moving across the land. I am grateful to be here.
Since that night, it has rained every week at Hamaatsa in July and August, greening the land like no other time. And the Arroyo de Tanos has run four times this summer.
Everything that has breath gives praise.
Video clips of Arroyo de Tanos flowing and frogs emerging
8/22/2014 09:01:08 am
Wow!! so beautiful-- life in harmony with nature....sometimes there really is peace and justice here on earth when man steps back and behaves like just another animal (that he is) appreciating simply the fact of his own existence in this paradise. Thanks for sharing and educating us all....
8/22/2014 09:16:27 am
Wonderful story, brings back memories of living on the ranch. What joy and harmony the rains would bring! Thanks for sharing.
8/23/2014 03:11:33 am
Thank you so much for sharing these joyous and awesome moments. What miraculous fulfillment!
8/24/2014 02:52:50 am
Your story is a gift of grace to us all. Yes! This has been a summer of the blessing of RAIN. All of life rejoices! And what a sunset it was!
Elizabeth A. Chestnut
8/24/2014 03:16:20 pm
wow...amazing....frogs in the desert...cheerfully croaking amid the
8/25/2014 07:26:55 am
dear Deborah and Larry, what a wonderful happening!!!
8/26/2014 10:55:44 pm
Thank you for such evocative words, Deborah. I am there, near than pond, singing with the frogs :)
9/2/2014 05:34:01 am
Thank You, so very much for taking the videos and telling the story of this miracle on the land. I heard Larry speak many years ago at a Kellogg retreat at Upaya. While reading your story and looking at the videos, I could hear your voices in my mind. I am grateful that I share this world with you and that you continue to remind me that I am "really here-standing in a place between heaven and earth".
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