11.28.2006,12:42 PM
Texas Canyonlands I: A Day in Wonderland

From the journal…

It’s chilly. But as I sit at the table sipping my coffee I can feel the morning sun compete with the chill of the wind.

It reminds me of Maine when I would lie in the snow face up to the bright winter sun and absorb its warmth while the cold snow under me fought to cancel the sun’s heat. A balance allowed me to lay for awhile in the pristine white and silent snow and still be warm, until the dampness crept through the many layers and to my skin. Wet cold is numbing.

I’m on the canyon floor amongst the mesquite shrubs and prickly pear carpeting the ground, the cactus like hundreds of giant furry mouse ears sticking up in every direction. Regardless, those ‘hairs’ are giant spears, certain to stab through a sandal sole or a tire. And excellent evolutionary adaptation in self-preservation. Now if only I could grow thorns.

Leaves on the mesquites are golden brown lit by the morning sun against the red-beige of the ground and black of the branches and bark. The canyon walls to the west, north and south are aglow with color: horizontal stripes of red, brown, rust, beiges, mossy green, all layers differing in thickness and betraying their geological history. A map of time, a time before we were a twinkle in a cell’s molecules, is revealed here. Naked, for anyone to see and read, it is a journal of millions of years on which nature reveals herself:

“I was here, all of my children: the wind, rain, forests, fires, seas, blistering sun and cold, and creatures you can only imagine.”

Read her story and listen to her speak a language only few truly understand but none of us can experience.

Unlike the canyons in Utah, the vertical sweeps here are dotted with green low-growing and scraggly brush: junipers and mesquites. The floor is another world of flowing grasses, tall cottonwoods with their bright yellow twirling leaves, streams creeping along washes, dry riverbeds suggesting violent rushes of seasonal water, a myriad of mineral deposits and even some gems (opals and geodes), small caves and animal dens dug into cliff sides, gnarly twisting mesquite bushes and thorny cactus. It’s like one world juxtaposed inside another; the colors, heights and distances contrasting each other.

And I wonder what it would be like, what is was like, to live down on the canyon floor, to watch the canyons and life progress through their annual cycles as they have for thousands and thousands of years; to meet all the inhabitants of the floor and the rim, they whom live a cycle of birth and death with no pretense. All these cycles and changes overlapping each other. Infinitely.

I wonder, and contemplate, but I may never know.


posted by Macrobe
Permalink ¤