Tag Archives: Needles

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

 

 

 

 

Places and Names

One of the happy memories of my intensive child-rearing days is watching PBS’s Reading Rainbow with our children, Sarah and Robert.  In those hot and humid Virginia summers, the three of us looked forward to piling on the bed, cooling off with the faint air of the window unit, and enjoying LeVar Burton’s light, upbeat delivery of the good news about books (or the news about good books).  My favorite episode, from 1983, featured Paul Goble’s Gift of the Sacred Dog.* In this episode, Phoebe Snow sang a song written for the show by Steve Horelick, “Ancient Places, Sacred Lands,” which evokes the power of American names. I cry whenever I hear the song, including twice this morning. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Odd53Y3d2GM):

Come sit beside me, and hear a story 
Of long ago when the people lived free 
And named the waters, and all the places 
High and low
Refrain:
Ancient Places, Sacred Lands 
Names we know so well 
But no one understands

I guess it is either the English teacher in me or my somewhat obsessive nature that makes me love lists. Furthermore, I particularly love American lists. Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, Maya Angelou, Stephen Vincent Benét, Edward Abbey, heck, even Vachel Lindsay please me with their incantations of American experiences, people, and places. 

Why I am telling you this now: For the last seven weeks my husband Tom and I have been traveling by car in the intermountain west in fulfillment of a long-held dream.  I’ve tried to post some insights (or, at least, experiences) of this trip, but that has proven difficult.  I don’t have words to describe the places we’ve seen. I have some photographs (below), but even the best of them are only crude likenesses of what we have seen. Likewise, I can’t describe my emotions accurately either.  Tom and I have been happy and sad, giddy and pensive, and satisfied or not. We have visited some of our dear friends from the old days and found them to be as dear as ever. That is, we have not arrived on a different plane; life has gone along with us on the journey.  So, I have turned to the names of the places we’ve visited, hoping, as with the poets, that some of the power of the places can be transferred to this page:

Colorado, Denver, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Book Cliffs, Utah, Uinta National Forest, Price Canyon, Soldier Summit, Salt Lake City,Quince Street, Marmalade District, Little America, Goshen, Kolob, Zion, Rockville, Springdale, Refrigerator Canyon, Walters Wiggles (a few), Pa’rus Trail, Angel’s Landing, Oscar’s Café, St. George, Ivins, Santa Clara River Reserve, Arizona, Arizona Strip, Kaibab Plateau, Jacob Lake, Vermillion Cliffs, Flagstaff, Coconino Plateau, Mogollon Rim, Sedona, Sally’s house, Teacup Trail, Jim Thompson Trail, Chapel of the Holy Cross, Jerome, Prescott, Thumb Butte, Nevada, Boulder City, El Cortez Hotel, Las Vegas, California, Needles, Mojave National Preserve, Barber Peak Loop Trail, Opalite Cliffs, Banshee Canyon, Colorado River, Cattail Cove State Park, Virgin River Gorge, Springdale (again), Zion (again), Great White Throne, Pioneer Lodge, Watchman Trail, Coalpits Wash, Scoggins Wash, Weeping Rock, Hidden Canyon, Temple of Sinawava, Page, Big Water, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Wahweap Hoodoos Trail, Kanab, Sq**w Trail, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Track site,  Mt. Carmel Junction, Elkhart Cliffs, Long Valley, Sevier River, Panguitch, Panguitch diner, Panguitch in the snowstorm, I-70 to I-15 in the blizzard, I-15 to Payson in the whiteout, Art and Skip’s Mardi Gras, Spanish Fork Canyon, Price Canyon again, Soldier Summit again, Glenwood Springs, Vail Pass, Eisenhower Tunnel, Denver.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

*In the last three years I have divested myself thousands of books and papers, but I still have all of our Paul Goble books safe and sound in storage. I highly recommend Goble’s retellings of Native American stories, but you don’t have to take my word for it…. I’ll see you next time.