Birdie and Earl Ashcroft, of Summit Lake, celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on Nov. 9. Married in Gallup, N.M. They have lived a life that seems to have jumped from the pages of an old-West novel. They might have played themselves in an action movie depicting the rigors, excitement and trials of living in a remote and arid land.
They have managed several trading posts. They learned the Navajo language and culture, and became proficient in buying and selling Native American rugs and jewelry, pinyon nuts, lambs and wool. In the early years of their marriage, they lived without electricity, running water, a telephone or a car. They lived among the Dineh on the vast Navajo reservation, at trading posts with the unique names of Copper Mine, Tohatchi, Divide, and Fort Defiance. They had the opportunity to witness Navajo ceremonies and the skills of medicine men. As young newlyweds they might hitch a ride, in a wagon with Navajo friends, into remote areas to a Squaw Dance. They continue to love the Navajo people, the Dineh language and culture, and the stark beauty of the reservation.
After more than 50 years on the reservation, the Ashcrofts said farewell to their many Navajo friends and moved to their ranch in Mancos. They love Colorado, but still miss the Navajo people, the smell of pinyon, sage, and juniper, and the soft voices of sheepherders around a dying campfire. They recall the tinkling of tiny bells tied around the neck of a lamb, and the salmon-colored sandstone formations placed across the backdrop of vivid purples, golds and blues of a high-desert sunset.
The couple formed many new friendships while living in the Mancos area. They have many wonderful memories of snowmobiling, fishing, hunting, picnicking and exploring four-wheel drive roads with friends and family.
They continue to set an example of devotion to one another. The Ashcrofts have two children, five grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
Friends who want to wish the Ashcrofts well may send a card to them at 37125 Road P4, Mancos, CO 81328.