"Sheltering the Creative Spirit"

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Taos, New Mexico USA





                                            Click images to see an enlargement

  Barbara; Tony Reyna, Taos Pueblo Elder; and Keith Wilson at memorial service, 1995. Photo by Barbara Sparks.



                                              Memorial area in the Sacred Aspen Grove, Arroyo Seco, New Mexico



In memory of Frank Waters a sculptured meditation spot now exists in the Sacred  Aspen Grove next to his favorite home.  Taos sculptor Ted Egri and I chose a granite Colorado boulder on which he carved his version of a Mimbres deer with antlered head thrusting to the top of the stone.

It was grueling work for Ted, a real challenge.  Here he was in his early eighties working for the first time with the world’s hardest architectural rock.  The Foundation had to buy diamond cutting tools to make the project possible.  Ted’s indomitable spirit was also a major factor in creating this striking work of art.  


Inside the deer outline is etched Frank’s consoling message from The Man Who Killed the Deer, “We will meet again.  As equal parts of one great life.”

Beside its antlers, whose prongs add up to Frank’s lucky number seven, appear these words:


                                                            Beloved Bard

                                                         FRANK WATERS

                                                             1902 -1995



Frank once jokingly called himself the “Bard of the Boondocks.”  The word “bard” is usually connected with a poet and thus with poetry, about which Frank told poet Keith Wilson he knew nothing.  Keith replied, “Every word you write is poetry, Frank.”

In People of the Valley Frank refers to man’s granitic hardness and his soft resiliency.  In Pike’s Peak he wrote, “I am them both, adobe and granite.”  Granite therefore best represents his durability and self-discipline.  “Nurturer” refers to both Frank and the deer, who have given their all to those in need. The granite monument rests on half of Frank's ashes buried in a blue tea tin.

Appropriately, a chair carved in China from a granite block sits opposite the Colorado boulder, a meeting of East and West.  As he traveled through China in 1976, Frank felt that he had lived there in another lifetime.

Some day this chair will shelter my own ashes.  On its back within a circle is etched the calligraphy for “gratitude.”  Author David Jongeward said it for us all when he observed, “My feelings about the powerful experience of having known Frank can be summed up in one word: gratitude."




The site of the rest of Frank’s ashes beneath an old oak in our upper pasture is marked with a simple wooden cross facing Taos Sacred Mountain.  Carved by our friend and neighbor Lee Bentley, it is his representation of traditional crosses and woodwork seen in old places near Bernal, New Mexico.  Frank, too, was fascinated with old crosses.  This wooden marker seems more one with the earth, the soft resilient aspect of man in general and Frank in particular.

The division of Frank’s ashes came about in strange but typically creative fashion. In 1983 we had scattered the ashes of Victor White in the aspen grove and saluted his memory with his favorite Scotch.  Victor, a good friend and author, had shared the same birth date with Frank.  Approving of this ritual, Frank decided it should be duplicated for him when the time came.  About a year before his death, however, he said, “I don’t want to do exactly the same thing as Victor.  You’d better scatter at least half of my ashes under that old oak tree out in back that the horses love.”

Both Ted Egri and Lee Bentley generously contributed their professional talents free of charge to the Frank Waters Foundation in honor of Frank.  Gratitude permeates this whole endeavor, including as it does their gratitude to him and our gratitude to them for permanently reminding us and posterity that Frank Waters is indeed “a man for all ages.”

                                                   ---Barbara Waters  




Nathan J. Bolls


        We cherish rocks, those tough, beautiful, enduring creations.  They grace our mantels, desks, and gardens.  Small colorful stones litter the dressers of children learning to appreciate the hard beauty of nature, the depths of geologic time.  Stone statues commemorate notable or tragic events.  Headstones mark the passage of loved ones.

        We choose stones carefully, especially a headstone to mark the life of Frank Waters.  Not sedimentary rock like sandstone or limestone; although often laced with fossils containing lessons about life past and present, limestone disintegrates quickly when exposed to the surface forces of wind, water, heat, and cold.

        Not metamorphic rocks.  Quartzite, formed when sandstone is subjected to great subterranean heat and pressure, does become hard, but cracks indiscriminately along any plane when exposed to surface forces.  Marble, formed of deeply buried limestone or dolomite under great heat and pressure, is hard and takes a high polish.  But fossils,transformed into mere light decorative areas in the rock matrix, lose the life lessons found in limestone.  And marble is vulnerable to acid rain.
        Consider igneous rock -- obsidian, rhyolite, or granite -- tough, and old as geologic time, formed of lava pushed up from Earth's deep magma furnace.  Obsidian, hard and shiny, from extruded lava cooled too quickly to crystallize, lacks character and experience, tends to take up ground water and disintegrate.  Rhyolite, closely related to granite, is rare and durable; the piece which sits on my desk was formed at least 1.3 billion years ago, and is impossible to comprehend.

        But granite, equally invulnerable, is formed when lava from the furnace cools slowly deep within Earth's crust; it shows its crystals of quartz, feldspar, and various darker minerals like character lines in a human face.  Granite, resistant to, and not transformed by those surface forces which swirl around it, is a stone to match the man who stood in the Sacred Grove, a stone to mark the site to which others will come to honor and remember his enduring spirit.

        (Nathan J. Bolls, formerly a professor of biology at Wittenberg University, Ohio, has recently retired but still is vitally interested in wildlife, biology, ecology, and the world as a whole.)




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