Wednesday, April 29, 2009

for Ronan

Ronan, I don't know if you can hear me, but listen to me now: You ARE my family. Peace and amazement to you on your journey, which has come too soon.

At last you have departed and gone to the Unseen.
What marvelous route did you take from this world?

Beating your wings and feathers,
you broke free from this cage.
Rising up to the sky
you attained the world of the soul.
You were a prized falcon trapped by an Old Woman.
Then you heard the drummer’s call
and flew beyond space and time.

As a lovesick nightingale, you flew among the owls.
Then came the scent of the rosegarden
and you flew off to meet the Rose.

The wine of this fleeting world
caused your head to ache.
Finally you joined the tavern of Eternity.
Like an arrow, you sped from the bow
and went straight for the bull’s eye of bliss.

This phantom world gave you false signs
But you turned from the illusion
and journeyed to the land of truth.

You are now the Sun -
what need have you for a crown?
You have vanished from this world -
what need have you to tie your robe?

I’ve heard that you can barely see your soul.
But why look at all? -
yours is now the Soul of Souls!

O heart, what a wonderful bird you are.
Seeking divine heights,
Flapping your wings,
you smashed the pointed spears of your enemy.

The flowers flee from Autumn, but not you -
You are the fearless rose
that grows amidst the freezing wind.

Pouring down like the rain of heaven
you fell upon the rooftop of this world.
Then you ran in every direction
and escaped through the drain spout . . .

Now the words are over
and the pain they bring is gone.
Now you have gone to rest
in the arms of the Beloved.



Sunday, April 26, 2009

Everett Ruess: Mystery (Almost) Solved

The wandering ways and days of Everett Ruess caused much speculation in many folks over the last 75 years. The young explorer of the wild, wild West disappeared forever in November, 1934. The last signs of him were seen at Davis Gulch, a prohibitively remote area near Escalante, UT. His beloved burros were left in a corral there, not long after his last known contact with people, a couple of local sheepherders.

His body was never found. Until now. According to the Ogden Standard-Examiner, human remains discovered near Comb Ridge, Utah, are most definitely his.

But it seems as if the skeptics still abound. It is intriguing, to be sure. His burros were found 60 miles from his body. How in the heck did he travel that distance without them? I say, duh--he was bopped over the head by the "bad guys" (opportunists, more likely), who took all his worldly goods, headed west, and left his critters holed up near Escalante. Or something like that.

At any rate, I understand the desire to hang onto the romance of this old mystery. It hooked me too, years ago, when I first moved here. I've read his journals, I've dreamed about discovering clues to his death. And...if this is case closed, then that's it to the dreaming, the wondering, the curiosity.

Although the cynic in me foresees a biography (David Roberts, I'm looking at you), more articles, more people making their names on his brief life and much-debated death, the romantic adventurer and idealist in me longs for more. More information, more mystery, more knowledge to tuck close to my heart and soul and bring out and re-examine on a cold evening.

Cheers to you, Everett. May not all your mysteries be discovered nor solved. Because when I wander in the canyon country, I like to think your spirit whispers out there too, guiding my footsteps and lighting my dreams.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

touching my ancestors

Today I looked at potsherds and arrowhead pieces and broken ax heads and irregular marbles hand-fired years ago. I touched the intricate paint designs on the snapped pieces of bowls and mugs, licked my finger to touch the paints and make them come alive in deep, rich color, as if new. The whorls and swirls of mud pushed together by hands long since returned to dust bumped under my questing, delicate touch. I imagined the Fremont, the Anasazi, the tribes I'd never heard of, my visions fuzzy, possibly romantic, certainly not quite accurate. But my imaginings were very earnest and respectful, no matter how they might lack in precise truth.

I imagined myself. I felt their pain, their joy, their simple acceptance of daily existence. I touched their lives, broken and scattered in my palms, and it was only afterward that I thought, This might be all that is left of this person. A broken shard of mud, claimed from its ancient desert resting place by eager, modern, white hands. This might be all that is left of an entire human life.

What do we leave behind, anyway? How much? Why? And who will see it, feel it, in some distant and unknowable future? Who did I touch today, anyway? And how will I ever know that person? Can I actually understand, fully comprehend, the life of someone who lived so long ago, in such a different way than I do?

Doubtful. I mean, I barely comprehend myself in all my complicated, complex, blazingly simple human glory, right?

But I do understand that I hold history in my hands as I look at the shards of pottery. I do understand my link, tenuous as it might be, to these people who hundreds of years earlier roamed this very area I now call home. I can make up stories about them, conjure up their lives, a moment in their day, which might be fired in part by movies and books and snippets of overheard conversation during my lifetime.

I can hold a piece of them in my hands, and I can link myself back to them, and I can touch my ancestors, no matter how far removed they actually may be from me in cellular or geographic or cultural terms. This little piece of mud is me, and you, and it might be the only thing left of us when we too shuffle off this mortal coil. So handle with care.

Friday, April 24, 2009

ATV rant

I mean, it's not as if I would PRAISE ATVs. Of course this is a rant. But as it is late, this will be a gentle rant, dear reader.

Stay the @#$#*&$ on the roads meant for your use, ATV riders. Or can you not read the signs that clearly state, "No Motorized Vehicles"?? (And in case the answer is No, actually, I can't, as I'm a morally bankrupt illiterate--well, may I kindly point out that said signs include very clear PICTURES also indicating No Motorized Vehicles.)

So. The most current history behind my rant is from a few days ago, when I took riders (that would be horseback) up toward a gorgeous place called Lost Lake. As we left the road part of the trail to hit the trail part of the trail, guess what greeted my wondering eyes? Yep. Signage, pulled out of the ground and flung (flung, I tell you) carelessly aside, barricading rocks & tree limbs hurled elsewhere, so the oh-how-pretty ATV gouges could destroy the trail, making it five times as wide as it had to be.

I almost said Very Bad Words in front of the guests, but I managed to restrain myself. Instead, I sighed and explained to the Easterners (East as in Massachusetts, not as in Oil for which we spill too much blood) why I was upset. They agreed it was uncool.

Luckily, the trail is a really hard-core one, and the ATV tracks petered out after a few hundred feet. HA! But those hundred feet really did not need to be churned up as they were by some troglodyte (love that word) on his burly man-toy. (Yes, that comment is a bit sexist...but you understand where I'm coming from, right? I'll find stats on ATV gender use and post them sometime.)

God, it just pisses me off. What the hell is wrong with people? How freaking hard is it to stay on their own trails, follow the rules, and think, Gee, I bet there are other people in the world beside myself who might have different viewpoints on things like trail destruction?

Grr. Rant, rant, rant. I'd've taken a picture, but I was so mad I forgot about my camera in the saddlebag. (And you know, for anyone out there ready to take a deep breath and holler about how livestock ruin the land as well, let me point out AGAIN that this particular trail is open to Hikers and Horseback Riders. Period.)

Okay. I suppose this is another example of how being angry can be constructive. Lookie here, it got me writing again, did it not?

Well. I feel a bit better now. Thanks for listening! And remember: if you must ride ATVs (let me throw in here the little tidbit that someone who was riding an ATV in a nearby area over Easter weekend had an accident and is now PARALYZED from the neck down), please follow the rules. There's enough fricking road for you, already. If you want to see the backcountry, get off your ass and walk into it, already.

Signing off, the irate defender of the wilds (and user of ALL CAPS too, apparently).

Friday, April 17, 2009


Winter is the time to slink off to one's cave, lick life's wounds, and reflect while keeping one's back safely to the wall, no?

I have been in deep hibernation for the past six weeks, it seems. Time has swung for me crazily, veering in and out and sometimes standing still.

I slept. I dreamed. I moved. I cried. I giggled. I contemplated.

I did not, however, write.

Back again, waking up to the world in a slow, leisurely stretch. Gazing around, blinking, taking in the whole bright world through one cracked lid at a time.

Welcoming myself home. It feels good. And, oh, the writing muscles. How they both long yet fear the impending workout!

Good thing I'm surrounded by red cliffs, snowy mountains, and friends. It's what buoys me now as I plunge back into the world....