Saturday, January 31, 2009

on the power of sunlight

I am sitting with my grandmother in her hospital room. She has been in the hospital for three months now--three months!--of which she has been conscious for about the last five weeks. Something that really strikes me here is the seeming alarm about sunlight and a view that some of the hospital staff seem to possess.

I open blinds to let sunlight into my grandmother's room. It hits the bed, creates a gorgeous backlight behind her flowers, brightens a tirelessly, endlessly routine space. It slips up over the sheets, lighting her mostly still form beneath the blankets and her cherished yellow robe with purple flowers from home. The light touches her face gently, its afternoon winter rays weak, yet strong enough to illuminate the healthy color in her skin, the still-lively smile that pulls up her lips when she teases us.

But the workers ask, when they see the opened blinds, Won't the sun bother/hurt/annoy her? Won't it get into her eyes? Doesn't she prefer it closed?

Oh. Well, why did I not think of that? Shutter the light, keep the air stale and still and unnaturally lit, and of course she'll get better. Why did I not think of that before? Silly me and my frightening love of the light. The sterile, cold environment is best for healing.

I wax sarcastic, but it stems from months of uncertainty and varying healthcare and wildly differing opinions. It pains me to think how oddly fearful urban and suburban dwellers seem to be of our own sunlight. (My fingers keep slipping on the keypad and I write "sinlight" by accident. Interesting, no?) Some of that trepidation is culturally created, with all the genuine concern about skin cancer. But really. We need at least 15 minutes a day of direct, glorious sunlight on our bare skin in order to obtain vitamin D. And for our souls, our psychology, our humanity, I think we simply need to be sun worshippers, in the best, healthiest definition of that label.

Do not fear the light. Do not shut it out, do not always replace it with a pale artificial imitation. And please, please, do not withold it from our suffering and ill, locked away in our places of rest and wellness and recovery. They need the sun. My grandmother needs the sunlight, to remember that she is human, that there is a world out there still awaiting her return. And I, for one, will gladly let that light fall across the beautiful, soft, lined map of her face. She's every bit as worthy of her place in the sun as anyone else.

Monday, January 26, 2009

natural bridges, naturally stunning

Found this article in the the Salt Lake Trib today about Natural Bridges National Monument. As the writer says, it is off the beaten path. It is gorgeous. I do recommend visiting it if you're so inclined. Generally, it's not a destination in itself, but part of a loop, since it is waaaay in the boonies.

I've been to Natural Bridges twice--maybe three times? There is a paved road one can drive with little stops that overlook breathtaking parts of the park. You can of course also get out and stretch your legs with a hike. You know me--move your rear and get up close and personal with all the sights out there. But I think a lot of people just do a drive-through en route to somewhere else. (Guilty as charged on that count myself! I was headed to Colorado for a workshop and short on time. Judge not lest ye be judged, yadda yadda yadda.)

The sky is dark, with no large nearby towns to drown out the starlight. The land itself can be immense, silent, so vast and fierce against one's puny humanness. And the remnants of the ancient ones who called the place home are scattered throughout, provoking creative speculation among the more speculative-minded.

Sigh...I'm longing for Utah right now. I miss the canyons, the natural stone bridges, the bright skies, the star-pocked canopy of night. Thank you, o random article, for reminding me where home truly is...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

some Sunday contemplation

Sundays are made for contemplation of one sort or another, are they not? Today feels particularly contemplative. It is cool, overcast, and rather quiet. The ground is still saturated from yesterday's downpour of blessed water from the sky, which of course came originally from the ground, and before that from the oceans and rivers and lakes.

Sometimes the circle of life makes my head spin. How amazing is it that we know so much? That everything works so perfectly, if all is left to its own devices? How do people figure out things? Who takes the time to look at a given thing--say the cycle of rain--and really understand how it works?

People from an earlier time, that's who. People who were not so distracted by television, the Internet (ahem), movies, their mobile devices, the generally fascinating world of humans at large. Those people still exist today, obviously. There are many throwbacks among us. I'm one, for example. While I loves me my online world, I'm also a sucker for sitting in silent wonder in a dusty little depression in the ground, surrounded by towering cliff walls and unknown scratchings on those very walls by long-dead hands, wondering to myself who those people were, why they wrote those symbols in the sandstone, and what their lives might have been like.

I'm missing the red rocks just about now.

So. Because Utah isn't the only land imperiled by blind human "progress" and ego, here are some links to contemplate yourself:

A friend just saw the movie Red Gold at the Banff Film Festival last night. She was so moved by it she cried, as apparently do many who view this film. There is a town in Alaska, Bristol Bay, that calls itself home to the last wild salmon hatchery in the world, and it is of course threatened by The Pebble Partnership, ye typical big huge corporation with an avaricious glint in its eyes, which wants to build an open pit mine at the headwaters to dig up gold. You can see the trailer at the Red Gold site, and it's a breathtaking cinematographic experience just in that snippet. And here's the blog site of the filmmakers, Felt Soul Media, with updates on the town. (Odd tidbit: Mitsubishi has a 10% stake in Pebble. Huh?)

For even more info, check out the following links:

Save Bristol Bay
Bristol Bay Alliance (seems to be a bit outdated)
The Pebble Partnership (the mine's site)
Stop Pebble Mine
The Pebble Blog at the Alaska Daily News

Seeing this sort of organizing, this public awareness-raising, makes me feel good. You know?

And here's some stuff going on in Wyoming: the Red Desert (never been, but it looks amazing) is being attacked by, you guessed, that dastardly old Bureau of Livestock and Mining. As usual, it's all about the oil and gas development. Shocker that, no?

Ah. Enough to contemplate for one morning, is it not?


Thursday, January 22, 2009

i'm vibrating with rage at the moment

Okay...this is basically off topic. I've read about this before, and just ran across a Facebook group about it.

So there are truly sick and twisted individuals in China (be careful not to get angry at the whole country, although it's very tempting) who SKIN ANIMALS ALIVE. Dogs and cats. Every day. For their damn fur. Because of money. And, apparently, because they get off on torturing living beings?

A group called Animal Saviors is trying to raise awareness about it. Check it out. Please sign the petition. Please forward it.

You may not want to watch the video. I didn't and won't. But I will remember. This is the kind of thing that brings murderous thoughts rising through me in a bright red haze. Very, very hard to extend compassion to the people who do (RIGHT NOW! They are doing it right now.) such things.

Good god. I need to go throw up, cry, scream, or something now.

I may just have to write about it. Using my voice is sometimes the best (only?) tool I have.

Monday, January 19, 2009

oh, those land lease updates...good times!

Ken over the San Juan Alamanac beat me to the punch today with his link to good news about the Utah land leases, detailed in the L.A. Times. The Salt Lake Tribune had the story two days ago (naturally, since it affects Utah more directly). Hoor-rah! So. Why is this a good thing? Because all indications point to the incoming (tomorrow, phew!) Obama administration being much more receptive to conservationist ideals, land preservation, careful and educated approaches to land uses, etc. etc. In plainer terms, it seems that the folks on his team might be more, ah, kind and gentle to Utah's lands. (My personal jury is still out on Ken Salazar (Interior Secretary nominee), but we shall see.)

Here's what the Salt Lake Tribune had to say yesterday about the juxtaposition of the incoming team and Utah's land interests. They also point out that Salazar is focusing almost exclusively on energy concerns, letting fall to the wayside very important concerns like off-road ATV use (which pisses people like me off to no end). That issue is of growing concern, fueling ugliness and downright violence all over the place, such as the ongoing issue in Garfield County, Utah, that went on for quite some time. I agree that energy concerns are vital right now. But we can't forget all the details. This is when delegation becomes an essential ingredient of governing. Hey, Mr. Salazar! Put me to work on the ATV yahoo issue. I'll be part of an eagle-eyed team on that subject.

It's exciting to think about the possible future. One of my favorite activities is just wandering red rock country in southern Utah. Really. Just wandering. It can get so silent...the space is so vast, and so beautifully unfilled by people, that the silence can actually ring in your ears, pounding along in rhythm with your heartbeat. The flap of a raven's wings might be the only sound breaking the silence, along with a brief croak or two as the bird scans the area and lets you know, as it passes overhead, that you are in its territory and it does indeed spy you down below, o flightless human. The smell of the pinyon pines, the lack of human trash or footprint, the abundance of jackrabbits and pack rat droppings and imaginings that fill the landscape...ahhh. The thought of that remaining untrammeled, undrilled, and simply being, is what excites me. We all need places where we can just be, can just exist, can wander without worry, secure in our simple connection to the land.

Doesn't the land itself also need such space to just be?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

San Juan Almanac

Yes, two posts in one day. Gasp! One of my hazy writing goals (I say hazy only because I wanted to "write more" in general) for 2009 is to post on here much more regularly. So far, so good. But...check back in June and pull out your scorecard then. :)

I've been invited by author and blogger Ken Wright to participate in his latest online venture, the San Juan Almanac, with the tagline of "All things Southwestern Colorado."

But Red Rock Writer, you say. You don't live in southwestern Colorado anymore. This is true, dear reader (all three of you faithful folks). However, I did live in Durango for a while, and it was there that I discovered his writing, which is right up my alley. Our viewpoints on things like land and writing and the West run in a similar vein, and due to the wonders of the internet, he discovered my blog and I his back when I was a Durangotan (thanks, Robin, for that particular appellation!). And here we are today, and I am so excited to join in with another chorus of interested voices.

My philosophy about preserving Western lands and ideologies (only the good ones, natch!) from certain depredations (say, modern miner 49ers, oil seekers, big fat greedy developers--you know, the usual careless suspects) is that communication is part of the key. Getting the word out there is essential. And even if just one person gets fired up enough, in love with these areas enough, to make a small change, then that is good enough for me.

Okay, and it's just fun in general to be part of a community, no? So check it out, and check out Ken's blog too.

I should note that I just added both of Ken's links on here (look to your right somewhere), and I also cleaned up a lot of my old writing links. This blog has evolved, for me, into a much more Utah-, West-, personal thoughts-focused type of place. I created a professional blog for EditWorks, which is how I'm trying to mostly earn my bread & butter, and to which I moved many of the writing links I'd had here.

Here's to writing, community, and the endless world of our thoughts and actions. May they intertwine peacefully....

updates, updates

Some new (rather belatedly passed on by me) news about Utah's wildlands: positive advances for the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act, referred to as the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (no sense in making things short and easy to say, now is there? Be warned that this doc includes all sorts of tidbits about land management throughout the entire country. It weighs in at a meager 1,294 pages. Ahem.) Washington County is south of Wayne County and includes the utterly sublime Zion National Park. There's more here on Senator Bob Bennett's site. And here's a pdf document in a Q&A format about the bill, which provides more illumination about the thoughts behind it and how bills like this one can help protect land.

Washington County is also home to St. George, one of Utah's bigger cities. Visitors to Zion very often fly in to Las Vegas, drive to St. George and stock up on supplies, then take an easy jaunt over the Zion to ooh and aah. Zion has a very high visitation and name recognition, as opposed to a place like Capitol Reef, which is smaller and off the beaten path and not well-known. Does this make a difference in protection? Possibly. I don't have any stats on that theory, although of course now I'm going to look into it. But the generally accepted precepts of capitalism (pay attention to where the moolah is made) tell me, sure, yeah, totally possible. Interesting...

Here's a little update on Tim DeChristopher, the activist who threw a gorgeously Abbey-style monkeywrench into the land lease sale last month in SLC. Should the big enviros be doing more to support this guy? Would you? Good questions. As a knee-jerk reaction, I'd be inclined to support him. After all, he was trying to do the same thing I advocate: preserve our Utah wildlands. But does that mean I condone his actions, which are possibly punishable by law? How far do we go to make ourselves heard, to clearly state our opinions and passionate beliefs in this world that often seems dominated by the powerful, greedy, moneyed few?

How far would you go to save something you loved?

Shiver. This is the sort of question that makes me ponder my own boundaries. Really, how far am I willing to go to put my money where my mouth is?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

continuing the conversation

I just saw this post and find it really interesting. A way to comment on specific parts of blog posts might be much more helpful...much more interesting...and indeed engender more conversation.

Encouraging more conversation--real conversation, thoughtful and hopefully insightful, rather than the blatherers that just blather--is something I will always champion. Talking to one another is the only way we can continue to grow and evolve and increase compassion, which we desperately need on this planet.

We have evolved from the fears about online communities detracting from the ways in which people truly connect. Sure, emails might be less poignant than, say, a long and chatty letter to a friend. Twitter might have taken over quick communication and be contributing to the dumbing-down of language.

But I argue that the Internet has provided an outlet for so many who may not communicate as deeply otherwise. Those who are shy, paranoid, quiet, awkward in person but eloquent on the page, might all benefit from being able to "talk" in the virtual world. We all want a voice, to be heard, to be listened to, to be acknowledged as existing and as being of value. Sometimes, expressing one's soul can happen through a medium as everyday and as mundane and as astonishing as the Internet.

Quote from Mary Oliver (love her work):

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy 2009!

I wish for you multitudes of blessings, wild abundance, joyful abandon, extravagant expansiveness, and the courage to reach for your wildest, most heartfelt dreams.

Happy New Year!