Tag Archives: La Sal Mountains

Excuses, Spring is Coming, and One More Staircase Story

day planners old and new

day planners old and new

Excuses Although it is March, I still haven’t transferred all of my phone numbers, passwords, and other data from my 2017 Audubon Birder’s Engagement Calendar to my 2018  Audubon Birder’s Engagement Calendar. This transfer usually happens early in January (see Old Year, New Year: Flexibility, Part 3). Part of the delay may simply be that there is so much minutia scrawled in the 2017 book that I am daunted by the task of transferring it to the new book.

I think the real reason might be more fundamental, though. I have been sitting here — each day at once agitated and inert–waiting to see what happens next to our country. My own version of Potomac fever, I am afraid. And I am afraid: I used to tell my children that our country had had difficult times before and had gotten through it. Now, I believe the current regime and its attendant problems are by far the worst in my lifetime.  I went to one march so far this year and will soon go to another. I sign petitions. I walk. I do my weights and stretches, and sometimes I even do my planks.  I photograph flowers and trees.  On TV, I watch cooking shows and basketball games. I think spring is coming. I believe my hibernation is ending and my hope is growing.

oak leaves and crocus

oak leaves and crocus

scilla, Mary L. Ripley Garden

scilla, Mary L. Ripley Garden

Happy Interlude  In early February, Tom and I camped for three nights in the Big Cypress National Preserve and for one night in Everglades National Park. We saw alligators and manatees; anhingas and egrets, mangrove islands and dolphins, and much more.

gulf fritillary, Big Cypress National Preserve

gulf fritillary, Big Cypress National Preserve

great blue heron, Shark Valley, Everglades National Park

great blue heron, Shark Valley, Everglades National Park

Spring is Coming Wood frogs are mating in vernal pools here in Arlington, Virginia. Salamanders are on the move. Daffodils are blooming and so is the witch hazel and some forsythia. Almost two weeks ago a cherry  tree was blossoming at Arlington National Cemetery. Tourist groups are massing on the National Mall. I think it is time to put aside my 2017 almanac and rejoin this year, this fight, and this life.

sign, Gulf Branch Nature Center, Arlington, Virginia

sign, Gulf Branch Nature Center, Arlington, Virginia

witch hazel, Mary L. Ripley Garden

witch hazel, Mary L. Ripley Garden

early cherry blossoms, Arlington National Cemetery

early cherry blossoms, Arlington National Cemetery


Staircase to Heaven, again

1972–1973 (North Rim and environs)

Did I ever tell you about the time I got dropped off at Pipe Springs National Monument? I was on my way from the North Rim to my friend Anita’s wedding reception in Salt Lake City. Someone drove me to Pipe Springs–on the Arizona Strip–87 miles from the Grand Canyon Lodge where I worked.  I tried to hitch a ride from Pipe Springs to Cedar City, Utah so I could catch a plane to Salt Lake.  At least back then, Arizona State Road 389 was not a well traveled road.

After some time, Pipe Springs National Monument closed for the day. It got dark and I felt forlorn and probably a little scared.  I settled down in the ditch beside the road. I wasn’t about to take my chances standing on the side of the road through the night. I worried some and I slept some.  Morning came, someone picked me up, and I made my flight to Salt Lake and the wedding reception.  I was an idiot back then, no doubt, but all that expansive sky, sand, canyons, and forests made me feel that all was possible, all was good, and I would not be harmed.

Angry and sad aside: Most of my life now, this Grand Staircase, this Colorado Plateau, has been for me not only the land of the beautiful, but also of the good and hospitable. I want to scream and cry and kick and yes, hate, as I see people and entities want to destroy this land. I don’t do those things: I am still trying for the beautiful and good.

So many more stories to tell, but I think I am finished for now.  I wanted to tell you about Hop Valley, the double rainbows on the snowy road to Bryce, pine nut gathering at Cape Royal, the smell of the ponderosas in the sunlight, and Chesler Park in late winter.

Now, I will march, I will sign petitions, I will walk.  In the end of summer, we may be at North Rim again, and, in November I will vote.

Thank you for listening.

Here are some photos:

aspens, La Sal Mountains

near Chesler Park, The Needles, Canyonlands National Park

near Chesler Park, The Needles, Canyonlands National Park

In the Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

In the Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

clouds, Natural Bridges National Monument

clouds, Natural Bridges National Monument

our camper in Capitol Reef National Park

our camper in Capitol Reef National Park

ponderosas on the North Rim

ponderosas on the North Rim

 

 

 

 

Book Report II

I’ve loved books as far back as I can remember. When I was almost five, I started Cooke Elementary School in Northwest Detroit.  That’s a long time ago now, but I still remember the school—staffed by plenty of tough old birds, some with their hair done up in braids like stern fräuleins out of Heidi. I remember the school library where  I read the Billy and Blaze books by Clarence William Anderson. It’s not like I’ve remembered the author’s name through these intervening years. In fact, until I Googled the title a few minutes ago, I had forgotten about the eponymous Billy as well. I have remembered some of the illustrations and—more—the joy I felt reading those books.

Tom just mentioned that I need to tell you more about why I liked Billy and Blaze. I admit the specifics are harder to dredge up than the memory of  the joy.  I liked this book because I liked reading about someone who actually got a pony.  I wanted a pony–really a horse. I loved the pony rides at some of the parks I went to with my family.  I still want to own a horse, but it seems impractical because a) I don’t know anything about taking care of horses b) horses are expensive c) we own 1/10 of an acre inside a city.  I also enjoyed Billy and Blaze because it may have been the first series I read by myself.  Not only did I get to enjoy one story, but there was more and then more pleasure to anticipate.

Cooke Elementary School, Detroit, Michigan

Cooke Elementary School, Detroit, Michigan

Another book I enjoyed (and have since remembered) from those very early years was Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Robert Clyde Bulla. I reread Squanto a few years ago and I believe I have it now in storage as part of my Native American book collection. Nowadays, I wonder whether Squanto was wise to have been such a good friend, but that doesn’t change the happiness I experienced in reading the book. I think I was probably seven when I read Squanto. Here, I think I was first experiencing a sympathetic hero as well as a strong plot related to real life happenings–a literary element I enjoy to this day.

Here’s the point: Even books that are not deemed great or good literature or even decent popular writing, can calm that whirling in my head (see yesterday’s Prologue) and help me to consider new facts and ideas. This is all leading up to the four books I am currently reading:

 

Lamentation by C.J. Sansom

Lamentation by C.J. Sansom

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lamentation by C.J. Sansom is the latest in the six book (so far) mystery series about Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer in the time of King Henry VIII. Not only have I learned more about politics and intrigue in Tudor England than I’ve ever known, but I have had to consider again the nature of good and evil and of power and powerlessness. We don’t have torture in the Tower of London now, but otherwise those twisty, dark, hot, and smelly London streets remind me too much our own times. Matthew Shardlake tries to be a good person in a bad, or at least troubled, world. When I can, I try to do that, too.

Cordelia Underwood by Van Reid

Cordelia Underwood by Van Reid

I picked up Van Reid’s Cordelia Underwood or The Marvelous Beginnings of the Moosepath League at a store called Bull Moose in Brunswick, Maine. I had facilitated the first part of a workshop and felt the need of a calming book to read that evening and on the plane back home the next day. Cordelia, a young adult book and a New York Times Notable Book, fit the bill. I read it in my spartan college dorm room at Bowdoin College and at the Portland airport and in the air. I’m not sure I will finish it right now, but I will cart it along for my next lonely trip because as the NYT Book Review says, this book is “an amiable, richly populated first novel…” (from the blurb on the back of the book).

 

Look to the Mountains by Charles S. Peterson

Look to the Mountains by Charles S. Peterson

The book that has most often been in my backpack recently is Look to the Mountains: Southeastern Utah and the La Sal National Forest by Charles S. Peterson. Tom’s father, the forest supervisor of the Manti-La Sal National Forest when this book project was undertaken, gave us this book when we recently visited him in Florida. I don’t know what has happened to me, but for the last many years, there is no reading I enjoy more than digging into non-fiction histories of the American West. Talk about calming my fretful mind: for me reading about the natural history,  prehistory, and history of San Juan and Grand counties in Utah is like the meditative breathing I am always forgetting to do. It’s like chanting a mystical syllable and I don’t know why. I do know, or at least suspect, that I am the only person in this country reading Look to the Mountains at this time.

Lake Warner, La Sal Mountains

Lake Warner, La Sal Mountains

Tattered Legacy by Shannon Baker

Tattered Legacy by Shannon Baker

 

Speaking of Grand County, Utah, about a week or so ago Tom bought me, Tattered Legacy (A Nora Abbott Mystery) by Shannon Baker, published this year. I’ve only read 30 pages so far and it doesn’t seem to be (charitable comment) a particularly well-written book, but I am continuing through it because the setting is Moab, Utah. Perhaps almost too trendy for its own good, Moab is in the middle of some of the most beautiful landscape on the earth. Clarification: I have not seen most of the landscapes of the earth and many other places that I’ve seen are also beautiful, but the red rock desert touches me in a way I can’t express with any amount of modifiers, hyperbolic or not. Tattered Legacy is nothing like the reality of the Southeastern Utah landscape and history. So far, this book is overly replete with villainous polygamists and clunky prose, but I am going to finish it. Our hero, Nora, works for a group that is trying to convince Congress to expand Canyonlands National Park. I keep trying to convince Congress and President Obama to do the same. If you want to read more about the efforts to save the land and the human treasures of this area, please see the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the  Grand Canyon Trust, the Bears Ears Coalition, and others.

 

The Needles, Canyonlands National Park

The Needles, Canyonlands National Park

Waiting in the wings: Stephen King, Finders Keepers. My husband it is reading it now, but only in the daylight!