Saturday, August 30, 2008

thunder and lightning, oh my

Ooh...big storm rolled over us today. I thought with some trepidation about the guide and guests out on the mountain, clearly in the thick of the sturm und drang! Pippin cowered in the bathroom and shook at the sound of the sky rumbling and spitting. And the surprised visitors flocked in and asked about roads, weather forecasts, what to do when faced with this unexpected deluge on Labor Day weekend.

What to do, indeed. If you had my life, today you would have taken a group of very fun people out riding this morning (pre-rain), and then spent the afternoon in the dry comfort of a building.

Much as I love weather, and have spent many, many days and nights outside in the hearty wildness of it, all year long, I am also quite grateful for the indoor life we humans have created for ourselves. Hooray for warm and dry indoors!

And on that note, now that it's stopped raining, I'm venturing back outside...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

lost 'n found

Again, I bask in the beauty that is southern Utah. I mean, really. This place is stunning. See the pics from my latest discovery, a place called Lost Lake located high up on Boulder Mountain. Look how clear the water is!

A very satisfied puppy with his big stick in the sparkles:

And there's Eli, with that jewel-colored water behind him (this one's for you, Chris!):

On the way downhill (don't they look like they're about to fall off the edge?):

Me on my favorite guy (Two Bit) with the view that never fails to take my breath away:

This place is full of amazing secrets and yodel-inspiring vistas. Quiet contemplation and joyful abandon. Can't get enough of it. Ahhhhh...

I watched the Hillary Clinton speech at the DNC the other night at a friend's house. Very refreshing to watch Democrats speaking while I reside in this vastly Republican state! Anyway, when I drove home about 10:15 or so, the stars were simply crowding one another in the moonless sky. The Milky Way was abundantly spilling forth, and a summer lightning storm was flashing in the sky to the east. I just had to pull over and park in the desert to watch the show with Pippin (he seemed more interested in disappearing into the dark than sky-watching, of course).

Using my truck's hood and windshield as a sort of chair, I leaned back and took it all in. The lightning, conducting from what seemed to be a single, huge cloud, was of the sort that would produce a ferociously huge and perfect bolt that shot to the ground and stayed there in crisp relief for long seconds before vanishing. The clouds lit up, the sky was revealed, and since I was many miles away, there was no threat to life and limb. What a treat to enjoy. The desert is truly the best place to watch the sky shake and shimmy and dance. I loved it with every fiber, and watched with eyes that just want to take in the whole world.

And this night, I saw the undersides of the clouds above the Velvet Ridge glow in tandem with the rocks from the sinking sun. The light leaves earlier and earlier...summer is closing.

So I need to go out and do as much as I can before winter descends!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Benedicto: peace

It has been so gorgeous here in redrock canyon country the past week or so. Clear, sunny days. Cooling at night--fall is coming! It's been the perfect time to explore the mountains. Today is a visit-the-river and bask in the sun day, later in the afternoon. The sky is a solid, unbroken bright blue. The cliffs and mesas and hills and mountains are crystal clear and unbelievably sublime. The air wafting in the open door and windows is clean and gentle.

In a nutshell, it is one of those days that makes this place, my chosen home, so utterly wonderful. I am quietly at peace, thrilled to be here. The immensity of the land, the solitude of the spaces, the neverending beauty of all that surrounds me, everything nurtures and nourishes and succors my very being, my soul.

Ah, it's great to live here! At this very moment, I am completely happy and in harmony with my life. And really, what more can we ask than that?

I leave you with one of my all-time favorite quotes, "Benedicto" by Edward Abbey:


May your trails be crooked,

winding, lonesome,
dangerous, leading to the most amazing


May your rivers flow without end,

meandering through pastoral valleys

tinkling with bells,

past temples and castles and poets’ towers

into a dark primeval forest where tigers

belch and monkeys howl,

through miasmal and mysterious swamps

and down into a desert of red rock,

blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and

grottoes of endless stone,

and down again into a deep vast ancient

unknown chasm

where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled


where deer walk across the white sand


where storms come and go

as lightning clangs upon the high crags,

where something strange and more beautiful

and more full of wonder than your deepest


waits for you—

beyond the next turning of the canyon walls.

Edward Abbey


Thursday, August 14, 2008

fallin' in love again...

...with southern Utah. This place is just so beautiful, it can still steal my breath. My good friend Ellen just visited, and we went to two places we had not seen before: Singletree Falls on Boulder Mountain and Box Death Hollow in Escalante.

In a word, wow. These spots are part of why this area is so special, so in need of mindful growth, and just so emblematic of how vast and sublime this world is. See for yourself.

So Singletree Falls is found east of the Singletree Campground, an easy 1/2 mile hike with a view of the desert almost the entire way. And what a view that is. The desert is a jaw-dropping spectacle no matter what time of year or day. Pippin the cute wonder-dog enjoyed the view as well.

Box Death Hollow wilderness near Escalante, UT, is also fantastic. We drove 150 miles round-trip for a four-hour hike, and it was so, so, SO worth it! There's a lovely road called Hell's Backbone (also the name of a restaurant in Boulder, UT) that we drove over--amazing views, which were also somewhat dizzying. And then the wilderness itself--we hiked down a canyon that made it seem as if we were in Oregon, no joke. Staggeringly high walls--up to 1500 feet of sheer sandstone beauty--a very clear running stream (Pine Creek), and wild raspberries--yum. It was the hike that had everything.

Enjoy the photos...visit the places...and remember that our voices are what save these gorgeous spots on earth for many, many future generations to cherish as well.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

let it rain

So the last week was pretty much a long Pacific Northwest moment out here in the desert. Rained...and rained...and rained. Then it rained again. I think I'm moldering.

Now, rain is a very good thing here, don't get me wrong. We always need it, out here in the land of little water and much hot land. But really. There comes a point when enough is enough, and I reached that point twice: first, a corner of my living room got wet (from pipes, not the rain) and both the carpet and the wall got moldy. Black stuff grew on the white wall, and weird fungus-y mushroom-y things grew from the carpet.

From. The. Carpet. Which is not, and should not be, organic material from which more organic material should sprout.

That is just wrong in a desert environment. It reminded me why I decided not to live in Portland, OR, many years ago, after I visited to check out the law school to which I'd been accepted (I had a fellowship and all). Because it rained the entire three days I was there, in June, and this Southern California sunflower just about drowned. I skedaddled home south and never looked back.

Anyway. Second time this week I realized I'd had it with the overabundance of wet: because the corral where the horses I work with live became absolutely mucky, icky, and filthy with a lovely combination of wet mud and horseshit. Ever try walking in that to catch horses who aren't sure they really want to go out into the rain with wet tack and people wearing flapping ponchos and loud thunder and lightning?

Oh, yes. There is a reason I live in the Southwest, and it involves rain at a beautiful modicum. I love it when it rains here, and strongly brings out the scent of the sage, and the earth itself. That is beautiful and stirring. But rain every day? For hours? For an entire week? No. Uh-uh. Ick.

Do we need the rain here? Of course! Am I happy it rained? Uh...sure. Mostly.

Just ask me again when I've dried out. Until then, my thoughts are too soggy to be intelligible. I need the hot desert sun to bake me back into life.

Friday, August 01, 2008

rivers run through me

I must first begin by asking what happened to July? Time = weird.

But on other matters: rivers. I realized some time ago that rivers define me, surround me, soothe me, call me, and offer me sanctuary. I've always been drawn to rivers. The gurgles and rushes and trickles, the rumbling sound of boulders and rocks being moved along the streambed, the meditative quality of the endless play of water against the earth--aahhhh. It's lovely, it's filling, it's soothing, it's invigorating.

Many rivers have rumbled through my soul over my lifetime. The Fremont River, of course. The Animas River in Durango. The little stream that runs briefly and then dries up through Eaton Canyon in Pasadena. Countless others. Carcass Creek. The river that runs off Mt. Baldy. The Merced River racing through Yosemite Valley.

Oceans are great. Lakes are serene. But really--give me a river. And it's not that I fish, or run rapids (shudder), or canoe or kayak or even tube float all that often. I just like rivers. Simple. I sit by them, I read, I dream, I write, I nap, I stare mesmerized into the flashing waters, I cry, I laugh, I splash water at friends, I skip stones, I watch my dogs play. I live my life by rivers, in a sense.

And how beautiful is that?