Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Words by Greg
Photos by Greg and Trina
We live in the wide West in a wide valley with wide views. It has become an easy habit to look up from our daily lives, to scan the distant horizon of mesas and cliffs, to let our eyes sweep across the sky and clouds, to note what surrounds us, and by that to note our own position within the expanse of changing light, shadow and weather. We like to think we take the broad view.
But the wide landscape that surrounds us is rich with smaller, more hidden places. Places where the slide of gritty water has carved away stone over time and left passageways where walls tower above. Some of these passages are the large canyons where rivers flow, where we often float or wander. Others are smaller and only graced with water infrequently. A very few are so tight that they reduce our view to nothing more than the closeness of walls and a slim stripe of sky above. Close enough that our eyes can narrow and we can use other senses. The coolness of shadowed stone. The cathedral crunch of gravel under foot. The muddy smell of puddles in close places, of dust rising slowly . The intimate touch of crowding walls, one hand on one wall, one hand on the other.
The virtue of narrowness can lie in a focus that brings out otherwise unnoticed details. Or in a clarity of direction, since choices are reduced to either forward or back. Or in a boost to determination, as obstacles must be confronted directly since there is no easier way around.
We spent two days exploring the undulating curves of narrow canyons, the pulse and squeeze of digested stone. Perhaps we were focused. Perhaps decisive. Perhaps determined. And after, we emerged again into the wider world, an open sky above. The spinning planet turned our faces toward the night and spiraled the stars above the red coals of our campfire.
We sat between the warmth of that tiny fire and the cold, distant heat of those burning stars. Perhaps we exist in a harsh world of too many tough choices. Yet we try to take the broad view. We try to realize that our time is limited. Our influence small. The directions we choose may lead us around dark corners into places where we'd rather not go. Or lead us to moments of clarity and happy surprise. And that it's unlikely that we will know which choice will lead where.
That night we chose the simple pleasure of snuggling together, small dogs between us, sand under our backs, and a wide, open sky above. It was easy to note our position within the changing moonlight and shadow around us. Yet no landmark could hold us there for long.