“Stars in the Sky”
Silverleaf Nightshade at Brown House (Kinishba Ruins) Arizona
August 21, 2022 2:30 PM
28×22 Oil on Canvas
(this Painting will be a part of the Cowgirl Up exhibit and sale, March 31st, 2022. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase)
From the Time and Place series
This was my first time visiting Kinishba Ruins near Fort Apache Historic Park. Having recently read Craig Child’s “House of Rain” and Martha Summerhayes’ “Vanished Arizona”, which both describe this historic area of Arizona, I was excited to walk this land and imagine the activity that once filled this 600-room pueblo.
Constructed around 1250 A. D. by the pre-Colombian Mogollon culture, there were supposedly 1000 occupants doing life here; having meals, celebrating, grieving losses, arguing, laughing, resting.
As I walked carefully around the sandstone walls, I began to see plant life that interested me. Specifically, the silverleaf nightshade.
These star-shaped purple blooming plants are common, but complicated. They are showy with yellow stamens and fruit, have beautiful silvery foliage, reseed easily, and are drought-tolerant. They are also prickly, and entirely toxic.
Most tribes who have inhabited this area have used nightshade for various purposes. In my research, I learned that the medicine men would chew the root and treat rattlesnake bites.
But maybe on an afternoon this this, the children of the pueblo would do what I did as a kid. Maybe they would gather a bunch for their mom. And maybe they would lay on their backs and watch the clouds. And maybe, when the sun sank and the skies turned from cerulean to indigo, they would watch the stars come out.
I bet they did.