The Songbird of Mesa Verde

One afternoon during our recent visit to Mesa Verde National Park I took a tour of the magnificent Cliff Palace ruins. I purposely chose the last tour of the day in hopes that I would have wonderful light on the ruins from the setting sun. Kailey, the park ranger who led the tour, did a wonderful job of explaining how the ancient residents lived in this large cliff dwelling over 800 years ago. Because we had the last tour before the twilight tour, Kailey was kind enough not to rush those who wanted to stay a bit longer, so I kept shooting taking advantage of the incredible light.

I was alone with the ruins with one exception, a couple was there with me using the ruins as a backdrop for their own shoot. As I clicked away, a woman, who was barefoot, had long blond hair and was wearing a flowing black dress, sat down next to a kiva (a ceremonial area that is recessed in the ground), while her husband took pictures of her in perfect light. I took the above photo of the beautiful scene.

While I was chatting with the ranger, the woman politely asked us if we could lower our voices as she wanted to record something with her phone. I thought that she was simply going to record a message greeting for her voice mail or perhaps record a video of herself with the ruins in the background. I was wrong on both accounts. The surreal experience that followed in this extraordinary setting is something that I will never forget.

I need to apologize for the poor quality of the recording, as I have much more experience shooting photos than video. Steven Spielberg certainly has nothing to worry about. After she sang her first song, we asked her name and learned that it is Deya, and that she and her husband are from Australia and currently traveling around the United States with their two kids performing at various festivals and other venues. More about their music and performance schedule can be viewed at: Www.Deyadova.Com.

How incredible it was to hear this beautiful sound in this place that seemed to have almost perfect acoustics. We asked what language she was singing in, thinking that it might be a Native American dialect, but were told that it was not in a given language, but rather she just sang whatever came into her heart. We also learned that she was part Aborigine and was taking the opportunity in her travels to visit other sacred sites like this one and sing as she had done here. Both the ranger and I thanked Deya and I looked at the ranger and said, “Can you believe this? That was incredible!” Even though we were well past the time that we should have left the site, I half jokingly asked Deya if she would want to sing another song. When the ranger said that this would be okay with her, Deya was kind enough to oblige us with one more beautiful piece. 

How wonderful it was that I went on this tour only hoping to take a few good photos, and end up experiencing something as absolutely extraordinary as this. And that I could just be there in the moment allowing it to wash over me.