by John Aldrich
The early morning hours were refreshingly cool after the previous day's heat in Oljato. As a bonus there was a beautiful sky to greet us as we headed to breakfast at the Wetherill Inn in Kayenta.
The drive from Kayenta to Navajo Mountain takes roughly 1 1/2 hours. Our destination is one of the most remote places on the reservation, but it's also at a higher elevation which promises a cooler day.
It's an easy drive, now that the road is paved all the way to Navajo Mountain, making it almost a meditation as we pass through the rising terrain of juniper-pinon forest with views of red-rock canyons on either side and the ever-present mountain in front of us. The roadside wild flowers weren't quite as plentiful this year but were still splendid.
The food run takes place at the Navajo Mountain chapter house. Here it is with the mountain in the background and Carla Sydenham at the door ready to greet Elders as they arrive:
The outside crew gets right to work unloading the boxes and produce:
At Navajo Mountain a special gift provided by American Express is water. As the Rainbow Circle takes shape, cases of drinking water are added to each set of boxes:
Inside, as the Elders arrive, they are greeted by volunteers. This is a time we can spend visiting with Elders. Though the language barrier makes conversation difficult, the touch of hands is universal:
Once the food run program is underway, Mary Robertson Begay of Hardrock again serves as translator. Mary's help and support of ANE is invaluable:
The generosity of the Elders at Navajo Mountain was documented in a previous post. The tradition continued this time as well as Mary Ann Morgan receives a necklace from Bertha Shaw:
And C.J. Robb received this bolo tie from Jack Eltsosie:
Many other gifts were shared as well including this weaving from Fay Sombero:
Fay later stood and gave a spontaneous tribute to the volunteers who came on this food run. When later translated by Mary, we learned that Fay had expressed her great gratitude to the Program and to the support people whose kindness sometimes seemed to surpass that of the Elders' own families.
All the women Elders received a gift box from American Express containing fabric and other personal items:
The meal for this food run was prepared by these gracious ladies and featured hard-shelled tacos rather than the typical Navajo taco:
Gina and Mark Zimmerer were able to see their Elder, Emma Seaton. This photo also shows Emma's granddaughter with her infant who is in a traditional cradle board:
As the Elders depart after the meal these two veterans of World War II pause to chat:
One can only imagine the stories they could share. Bahe Ketchum, on the right, was also a Code Talker.
Ruby Burns serves as our coordinator at Navajo Mountain. She is the director of the Senior Center which puts her in a unique position to know which Elders should be in the Program.
This final shot looking back at Navajo Mountain shows the beautiful landscape as well as the drama in the sky that is created by scattered afternoon summer thundershowers.
If you would like to read about other recent food runs to Oljato and Navajo Mountain, here are links to blogs about the spring 2011 run and the fall 2010 run.