Hares are a holy thing, you know. Does any other creature know excess in adversity as we do?
The right hand of agriculture touches the desert for the first time in a thousand years.
Those ancestral Sarikote who weathered the thousand-year drought came to inherit a world with no water. Unlike their sisters in the diasporas, who chose to leave the desert, they were forced to contend with what they had done. To this day, the Sarikote people hold their predecessors culpable for authoring the drought. This is seen as their collective mistake, and they inherit a responsibility to fix it.
Felled dams and empty canals still carve through the desert, where endless fields once fed the greatest congregation of people in prehistory. Today, they’ve been slowly taken with prairie, with saguaro forests, with gardens of piñon pines and junipers. The contemporary Sarikote chase the future through the lifeways of their ancestors’ ancestors– as nomads, caribou herders, and careful foresters.
It’s to this desert that the Akiat diaspora returns. Descendants of the same ancestors as the modern Sarikote, the art of sedentary, year-round agriculture survives only with the Akiat. Their Sarikote sisters in the west now watch with trepidation as rowcrops return to the deserts of the east…
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… But sometimes, you’re just a farmer looking after your whetrice paddy. There is nothing abstract about the need to provide, to feed you and yours.
You really don’t know what to make of the weeds raking their fingers over your terraces, though. You pull them up and they grow back six times thicker the next day. It’s gotten so bad, some of your fields have fallen into shambles– impenetrable thickets of mesquite and cottonwood, reaching for the sun above withered mats of whetrice.
The most vigorous growth fans out from the bones of an old ironwood tree. Fallow soil that never took to seed, no matter how tenderly you cultivated it. Once, while flooding your fields, your mask slipped and was swept away in the current. You lost a whole day searching the waters, only to find it staring up at you from that ironwood stump.
Some days, you gaze out yonder the thicket, and you swear you see something perched on that old tree. But each time you approach, it disappears with a great splash and a shower of seeds.
It’s a strange mess you’ve landed yourself in. But if there’s one silver lining, it’s that you’ve been given all the piñon nuts you could ever glut yourself on. And mistletoe berries, and mesquite beans, and wolfberries, and juniper berries, and prickly pear fruits, and…