Posts tagged “wonder

Eleven Miles from Somewhere…again….

“Yesterday morning, on my drive home from the store where I had just purchased the week’s food and other household supplies, I was looking at the neighborhoods I passed and at the smoke and steam coming from roof-top chimneys and vent pipes.  I also caught sight, through and beyond the clouds, of parts and pieces of the white and enormous mountains that line our eastern horizon.  It was and is still amazing and weird and wonderful to find myself in this place in the middle hours of this last day of the year, in a place so new and strange and removed from where I was last year.  As I drove those snow-lined streets back to our neighborhood proper, I happened to notice a mile-marker sign that was posted along the road.  It said “Mile 11.”  Now, I am familiar with state highways and roads that leave their freeway confines and become or pass along the same route as a city street, like US Highway 60 in Arizona that becomes or passes-along on Grand Avenue, bisecting the Valley of the Sun to take travelers on their way to Wickenburg or beyond, and I know of US Highway 89 that takes us from Flagstaff to Page, and to Kanab and Panguitch, and then marks a parallel course to I-15 as it leads north to Provo and Salt Lake, eventually becoming State Street that runs the central length of our city, but I was not familiar with any such state route or US highway that had turned into 700 East as it made its course through the city.

Seeing the sign made me wonder about the eleven miles that had passed on the other side of that mile marker and how many other miles existed in the opposite and other direction, whatever and whichever way that actually was.  It struck me as odd, too, and maybe allegorical even, in the processing of what yesterday was and what today is in the marking of time in a year and this present time or era or segment of my life and my family’s lives in this time of crazy and dramatic change.  We’ve come to this station and place in our lives, taken such drastic steps to find ourselves in a new state and locale, and work and living and natural environment and our heads and hearts and sometimes emotions are spinning and wondering and looking for something familiar to grasp and hold-on to as we attempt to regain our balance and direction.  And here we are then, eleven miles from somewhere, remembering and thinking about the past and wondering about the future, holding-on to each other, leaning against one another in our little relocated family, awaiting the arrival of others and missing those who won’t or cannot join us…and our friends, of course, we remember and miss them too, those precious ones who, even from outside the circle of our family and intimates, loved us and brought us joy and companionship for the past twenty years and more.

So it’s not only us, but you, too, who on this first day of a new year are eleven miles from somewhere.  Where are you going, what are you doing, how are you, and we, too, going to measure this year when it’s gone, like we’ve done to the one that is just passed and passing?”

***This is a Favorite Re-post from January 1, 2011.

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I’ve seen you before, again….

I saw your face and thought of a name, but was it yours, I wondered, and couldn’t say for sure.  Was it at work, in the clinic, in front of the vet, or down the road at the gas-station, the gym, or…?  I know, I remember now…it was when you were getting out of your car that day with your little ones in the grocery store parking lot and I hesitated before pulling into the spot next to you because your kids were standing there with big eyes looking at the car, my car, that was coming at them.  I just sat there in my patience and waited for you to grab their hands or usher them in some other way out of “my” spot.  You looked up and glared at me and angrily waved at me to drive on in.  I still waited, as I do, for you to get the little ones’ hands, to offer them your security, that sense of “Daddy’s got you, so it’s OK” before I continued in with my car.  You were swearing at me when I finally parked and you were walking away, little ones in tow.  As my car alarm beeped in my leaving, your words of “What the fuck are you looking at?!” bounced into my ears and around in my head and I couldn’t imagine “what the fuck” you were talking about.  I shouted “Hey!” and you yelled “What, bitch?!” and I said “I was waiting for your little ones to move.”  You suggested that I stop being such a fucking idiot and just park my goddamned car as your little ones’ eyes went from you to me as they were being tugged bodily up through the asphalted parking lot and into the store where the air-curtain above the door whooshed and splayed at their hair and yours and mine as I followed, not following, per se, just going in the same direction.

And it’s you I see again one day, inside of another store, with you waiting in line for the lady to ring-up your stuff and me walking past to go into another aisle.  Your kids aren’t with you and we, consequently, have nothing to talk about, but you see me and I see you and I remember very clearly where I know you from.  I see you looking after me as I turn into the aisle and my face is calm and your brow is furrowed.  “Where do I know you from?” you’re wondering, maybe, as you were wondering, still, when I left the opening to the aisle and was gone again.

Today, literally, these years later, I still see your little ones’ eyes.  Their tiny, large brown eyes looking at me through long and curly lashes and framed with clean black hair.  I see them looking at me behind the windshield and then walking through the parking lot, seemingly at and after them and I wonder at their wondering.  I see them looking up at you and your full brown angry face and silver black hair, first one and then the other, and then back at me.  I see their little arms tugged in their tiny t-shirts as you hauled them out of the parking spot and across the lot and into the store.

I see them still….

This is a Favorite Re-post from October 2010.


Hole in the Sky


Field Trip to Antelope Island

It’s always pleasing when a recommendation (direct or otherwise) from a friend results in a rewarding experience.  About two weeks ago, Fergiemoto commented on my Salt Lake City Seagull post and mentioned that you can see LOTS of sea-gulls on the causeway that leads from the mainland to Antelope Island out in the Great Salt Lake.  As I have lived in the Salt Lake area for just over a year and had not yet ventured out to visit the lake up-close and personal, let alone traveled the 40 miles north of the city to visit Antelope Island, it seemed like a good time to do so.  It was a rather chilly and windy February morning and afternoon, and while there were plenty of birds flying about and resting in the lake’s water, I have to admit that I didn’t take particular notice of the gulls…there were too many other things that captured my attention and begged for me to stop the truck and take their pictures.  Anyway…thank you, Fergiemoto, for your recommendation.  It was a wonderful day-adventure.  🙂

Antelope Island is about 15 miles long and 4.5 miles wide and is the largest of the six or eight or more islands that exist in the Great Salt Lake.  This photo was taken on the road that lies on the eastern side of the island and leads out to a farm/ranch near the north end of the island that was originally established in the late 1800’s.  Even though the island is smack-dab in the middle of a lake that has greater salinity than the oceans, there are more than 40 fresh-water springs on this eastern side of the island that serve as water sources for the natural and imported wild-life.   Aside from the prong-horn antelope, from which the island gets its name, there is also a herd of more than 600 imported buffalo, or American Bison, that roam freely over the island.  There are also long-horned sheep, mule-deer, bob-cats, coyotes, and many ducks, gulls, other water-birds, and raptors.  The state-park literature also reports that Bald-Eagles frequent the island during their seasonal migrations.

We didn’t spot this antelope until we were actually leaving the island.  As I got out of the truck to take the photos, I heard him making some barking-type sound…almost like he was calling to his friends to come back.  A cyclist who had also stopped to look at the antelope and listen to his calls said that this particular antelope was a male, as only males have the black cheek markings and a bit of a mane that runs down the middle of the neck.

I think it’s remarkable that we could be on an island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake and see buffalo resting in the tall and winter-dried grasses.

The boys were eager to get out of the truck and climb the rocks…having fun with their own little adventures and seemingly mindless of the chilling wind.  There was a bit of haze on the lake…maybe an inversion layer of vehicle particle emissions…or salt dust carried in with the winds from the desert south and west of the lake.  Those are the Wasatch Mountains in the background.

I’ve seen these deer in the mountains of Colorado and in the mountains and canyons of Utah and Arizona…but on an island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake?  Yep…

When I mentioned in my earlier post, Mass and Form, about trying to get a good profile shot of the bison/buffalo, this is the closest and best that I could get.  He kept moving in circles away from me….

Everyone had a nice time driving and walking about the island…even my 3yo grand-daughter.  This last photo was taken near the farm/ranch on the north end of the island.  You can see that the winter grass has been mown beyond the fence.


Nature’s Art in Ice

Up-stream from where I found the ice tubes or chutes from those earlier posts, there was another ice spectacular that I couldn’t resist.  It was the perfect cross between the chute and the over-turned punch bowl in a stream, house-like, almost…or maybe not…but wonderful, still.

There’s something crazy or magical or even mysterious about this…like looking at the growth rings of a tree without having to cut it open to see them….


Years and moments…and wonder….

While time and circumstance can or might remove some of our curiousity and marvel for life, if we allow them to, it is a treasure to wonder again, and still, with the eagerness and attention of a child…and to have our hearts touched by their amazement with what they discover in the simple and the every-day.

My quiet friend and his grandson share a moment in a day…gentle…tender…loving…miraculous…thank you.


Blackbirds in Snow

It snowed again last night, giving us the second “significant” snow of the winter.  There might be an inch of the white stuff on the ground, if that, but it is enough to cover the land and bring the white beauty of the season that I love.

As I was standing on the back porch attempting to get some good close-up shots of a couple of Robins in the old Russian Olive tree, a flock of some type of black birds stopped-in for a visit…

Less than a minute after they settled, the birds spied another mass of their companions approaching, and with a great rustling of wings and feathers, they were gone and away….


Wonder….

“There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child.  There are seven million.”  ~Walt Streightiff


Winter Berries

Natural Christmas ornaments, somehow…bright winter berries for the birds…they turn dark and black by the end of the season, but they’re bright and beautiful for now….


Crystal Craziness

I left the trail and was preparing to cross the Little Cottonwood Canyon stream-bed where it lies beyond the Temple Quarry nature-trail and was surprised at the crystal nursery that I found in front of me.  The stream is empty at this time of year, as the remaining water coming down from the canyon is mostly diverted and captured for use by the local cities.  When I was finished taking photos at this location, it was almost hard to make myself step between the rocks and proceed on my way, knowing that I would be crushing some of this natural wonder with each move of my foot.  Hopefully I will be forgiven for my destruction, as I will be preserving these crystal images forever…or as long as they exist in the ether of the world-wide-web….


Fall…Part Two and Three and Four and…

Somehow, we can’t leave the three to four inches of leaves all over the back yard…snow is coming and its melting and more snowing will turn the Fall beauty into a Spring nightmare of deep raking to get the leaf-slime out of the waking lawn…but there is nothing like the smell of raking the leaves…as odd as it sounds…so earthy and rich…and clean, too….


It’s Friday Again….

It’s Friday again, somehow, and thankfully…and I simply do not want to get started on my work-day, even though it technically started about half an hour and more ago.  I’ve been looking at a photography blog that contains photos taken in Colorado, outdoor shots of people and nature, and it was so easy to stay there and not attend to the stack of papers on my desk that represent people and infections and stories and trying to be nice as I listen to their unconcern, panic, or whatever their names and phone numbers hold for me today.  I marveled at the pictures of scenery and nature that so resemble the area of my new home and the beauty of Fall and her changing seasons.

As I was driving to work this morning, I couldn’t help notice the orange and yellow and pink and red of the leaves on the trees and sidewalks in our downtown and nearby residential areas.  It reminded me again of the walk/hike I took at this time last year through Memory Park and City Creek Canyon.  Upon further reflection, it dawned on me that I went there exactly one year ago next week, so even the stars and planets are similarly aligned, as the trees and everything were the same…as I looked again at the pictures I had taken and posted on Facebook.

The office is now waking and my co-workers are talking on their phones with their own patients and infections and the computer keys are tapping in their fast and slow paces and the piano music is still talking to my heart from my computer’s speakers and the cars and trucks pass silently and loudly on the street below our eastern-facing windows, as the boss is gone today and it’s Friday, again, and the pen feels so good in my hand as its tip scratches the paper and I can still smell the wood-smoke and feel the chill in my ears and nose as I remember my walk from last evening…as the echoes of my little one’s boisterousness rang in my ears and reverberated still with flashes and snapshot images of his silly and smiling eyes and clownish grin.  So I think I’ll take him and his brother/nephew out to City Creek Canyon and see if they enjoy the colors of the falling leaves and the crisp morning air as much as I do and will…and maybe I’ll snap some beautiful photos to post here, too…of people and nature, and people, too.


Twisted in the drive to live….

A couple of weeks ago, my son and I stopped in the middle of a trail to admire and wonder at a twisted Aspen tree that was rather pretzel-like at about 10 feet up the trunk.  Another hiker noticed our noticing of the tree and commented that it was “Redecorating by Avalanche.”  It appears that the weight and force of the snow cause the trees to bend and nearly break during the winter months, but then the drive to keep growing in the spring is so great that the young trees continue to do so, often changing directions from their downward or sideward leanings and back toward their natural and upward growth pattern.  The results can be crazy….  I wonder how this might be a metaphor for us and our lives, not succumbing to the pressures and challenges of life, but being touched by them, changed even, and maybe drastically, but still enduring in our drive to live, to experience what comes our way…and pressing-on, regardless, on the journey that is our life.


White Water, Mountains, and Clouds….

I guess the theme is natural white…the color we find in the elegantly contrasting clouds against the rich blue sky, the massive mountains of White, or “Temple” Granite that were the birthplace for the boulders that were used to build the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, and the crush of water that is flying and thundering down the Little Cottonwood Canyon Stream…all beautifully brilliant and alluring….


Revisiting the walk with giants…and geese….

Two circuits of the moon, give or take, and the giants are awake…the guardians of that city’s central park are no longer stuck in their winter slumber, but are alert and watching, steadfast sentinels on guard…no longer skeletons bare with trunks and arms akimbo, they are clothed in spring-time finery and seem to perform a ballet in the blue and noon-time sky….

You can visit the earlier post and see the winter-bare trees by clicking on the words “To Walk with Giants and Geese.”

Beautiful canopy of Cottonwoods covering the central walkway of Liberty Park in downtown Salt Lake City.

He/she almost has a quizzical look….  “Have I seen you before?”

Mine!  Mine!


Peace in Liquid Form

It trickles and slides down a slate or travertine bed, held in its course by the same or different, or by siliconed shores of flame-colored copper pipes or pewter-hued stainless tubes, squared or not.  It ascends heights and heights in rivers round of rubber or acetate or plastic somethings that are bolted and clipped and bound to wooden frames, primal substances joined again in processed forms, the outside brought within, wrought components of elemental peace.  It jumps up, propelled or thrust there by motors quiet or loud, close or far away, tucked into a cabinet pool or beneath the spray in a basin bare, a basin bare or full of stones come from rivers away and worn in a tumble from a mountainside over years and eons and miles away.  Wires bring life and form and motion to all, copper arteries in plastic coats in various thickness and color, loose and curled in their spooling or taut in their barely-reaching, as they were cut too short by a helper’s hand.

Life pounds quietly in this watery form, in its climbing and falling again, in its soft spray or gentle trickle down.  You can hear it in that sacred room, your sanctuary away from life’s rush and static loom, those tiny waves rolling from above in tender cascades that bring peace from his hands to your home, from his heart to your life abode or enterprise or garden or celebratory hall.  Those islands of craft and science in a sea of wakefulness and thought and design and calculating engineering and peace and satisfaction that cause and stir a watery genius of art and science, they become substance and form in hours of concentration and delight in a dusty garage in a desert land, they live in those plastered walls’ confines, brought together in after-hours’ times and moments stolen from a day, born in the solitude of his heart and brain and sent finally across miles to live in some other realm, they come from gentle hands and rough, and a tender heart and torn, where peace is sought and restored in a blended liquid form of art and craft, and love.


To Walk with Giants…and Geese

Liberty Park is about a mile from my workplace in downtown Salt Lake City.  It’s roughly a quarter of a mile wide and a half mile long, so it makes for an excellent lunch-time routine, walking there, making one circuit of the paved perimeter, and then walking back…it takes just under an hour.  The first time I went to the park, which was in probably September of last year, I found the trees almost mesmerizing me with their huge trunks and canopies of leaves as I tried walking around the track.  I don’t know that I had ever seen trees so tall, especially in the middle of the city.  Anyway, I’ve been meaning to take some photos of the trees to share here, and even though they are still bare from the continuing winter weather, I find them beautiful and alluring…maybe even awe-inspiring.


I don’t know what it’s called…

…but there’s definitely a “something” that I feel when leaving the forest and hills and trails on my weekend outings.  I would offer that it’s almost a tangible sadness, but that’s not precise enough, I don’t think.  There is a…I don’t know, maybe a separation occurring somewhere in my soul, my core, a literal leaving of something that speaks deeper than words, that moves, maybe, in a way that simply cannot be defined.  For the hours that I’m out there, the notion is essentially absent, I’m not worrying about leaving, not preoccupied with the loss that is around the eventual next ridge or hillside, I’m not thinking about it at all…but when that last draw has been passed or the last canyon crossed, or when I’ve come to the place in those long upward trails where my body is not responding to my mind’s bidding and jamming up the slopes with as much fervor as it did those hours ago and I decide that it’s time to rest for a bit and then turn around and head back, within that instant, or in one of the several that shortly follow that one, the sensation of a coming loss becomes real and my heart and mind know that all of the things I have so loved for the last however many hours will be shoved away for another week or so until I am out there again.  And no, it’s not that I “have” to go home…I am not dreading my return to family life and work and responsibilities and whatever else.  That’s not it at all.  I love and enjoy my family and my life and home and work and all of that…I’m not dreading what I am returning to, I’m immediately missing what I am in the act of leaving.  Yes, I am attached to those in my life whom I love…but I’m strangely attached, too, to whatever it is in those forests and hills, as well…those crazy-tall mountains that fill the eastern horizon with their canyons and draws and the rugged rocks and crags that adorn the mountain-sides, all the varieties of trees and bushes and groundcovers, the moss on the rocks and scrub oak, even the fallen and decaying leaves with their smell of sweet rot and life, mingling with the perfumes of new buds and leaves and spring flowers that brave the cold and wind on their bare hillside homes.  I don’t know what it is, really, but it’s something…it’s something that I’m attached to and I feel a genuine separation and loss when it’s time to leave.  Maybe it’s like leaving the peace and quiet of a beautiful sanctuary or temple and returning to a loud and profane world of city and cars and signs and electrical poles and streets and sidewalks and airplanes….  Whatever it is that draws me out there, I start to miss it before I’m gone.


Temple Quarry Saturday

The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City was built from blocks of white granite that were “mined” from a “quarry” near the entrance to Little Cottonwood Canyon, just south and east of the city.  When I imagined what a quarry might be, I pictured a huge hole in the ground, or at least a huge scar on the rocky side of a mountain.  The blocks for the temple were actually carved out of boulders that fell from the mountainside in the canyon.  I’m not advertising for the Mormons or the beautiful architectural feat of their showcase temple, I am, however, sharing the natural beauty of the place where this people gently obtained what they needed to build it.

 The site of the Temple Quarry Nature Trail is also the lower trailhead for the Little Cottonwood Canyon Trail.

You can see a boulder in the very bottom and center of the picture that came from the mountain above.

It’s probably easier to see the size of the boulders that were used from this picture than the last one.

Frozen waterfall from the snowmelt on the side of the mountain.  There’s not normally a stream there, so I imagine it’s just from the melting snow on a few warmer days.

This is the snowy canyon at the base of the mountains.  The creekbed/streambed is in there somewhere…not running now, but frozen and diverted further up the canyon.

It’s crazy what the fog does when it freezes on the branches and poles…beautiful crazy….

Took this at the end of the hike…heading toward early afternoon and the winter sun was just creeping over this part of the Wasatch range…beautiful.

Go Sun Devils!


Don’t use that name

Years ago I found stories in the everyday lives of the people who populated mine, those from my workplace, especially, and sometimes, and still, with my family.  In those years of the past, the situations and lives of my clients easily became the foundation or the substance of the stories and recollections that I put into stories and musings.  Yes, I changed the names, always, but the things and events that I shared were straight from their lives.  I would change some things, as is my license when I’m the writer; I would add to or delete from what they had told me, as sometimes the truth was too raw…other times I made the truth a touch stronger so that it would bite harder when it was read, so that it would cause us to think more, you and me both, about our own lives and the importance of the people we love and the things we take so for granted in our own little orbits around the sun. 

I have recently returned to the first “former occupation” that lived so vividly in my earlier writings.  When they say that you can never go home again, this seems to be true in this instance as well.  Things are different than they used to be.  The grass isn’t greener, by far, over here, but it is still good and the rewards are similar to what they were in the past.  Some notable differences, though, come in the level to which I am able to participate in the lives of my clients and the other categories of people who used to fill my work life as I did what I did in the health department context.  Most of my experiences and involvement with people are now over the phone, similar to when I worked with 9-1-1.  I participated in the callers’ lives over the phone, I was witness to their tragedies as they played-out through the headset, I typed the facts as I obtained them, or as they were hurled at me through the technology of a cell phone or land-line that was so utilized to request our certain brand of help.  And today, or now, again, with this health department, it’s back on the phone.  Most of the interviews with my clients/patients are conducted on the phone.  I do, occasionally, as much as I’m able, bring people to the clinic to speak with them face to face, the contacts anyway, if I can’t do so with the original patients, so that I can deal with and participate in the human exchange again.  Yes, I enjoy it being a limited exchange, 20 to 30 minutes of their lives, but face to face, looking into their eyes, watching them try to find the right words to express their concern, or watching them react to the pointed and intimate questions that I must ask them in order to do my job…it’s so much more preferable than doing it over the phone.  I can observe and then respond to the nuances of their half of the conversation, those non-verbal parts that can betray the spoken parts.

And then there are some occasions, very limited ones, thus far, in which I am actually out on and in the street again, traveling, driving the new old streets in this new town and home of mine, seeing people and places for the first time that my daily routines and even weekend wanderings don’t usually allow me to see.  On those few times that I was able to get out there again, I felt an odd familiarity and excitement, almost, at being on strange doorsteps and knocking on those strangers’ doors again, watching and wondering at their reactions, or wondering if they’re going to answer the door in the middle of a late afternoon snowstorm for whoever might be knocking or ringing the bell after I’ve already seen them walk past the window or move the curtain after I parked in front of their house.  I haven’t been out and walking up and down dusty alleyways or sitting at a picnic table in the park, watching a dominos game while asking about whoever knows whomever yet, but that day may be here again, someday…maybe…maybe not.

At any rate, I’m back inside the stories again, on a vastly different plane, but still there, listening sometimes to the confusion, marveling with them as the light comes on or as the blinds are pulled-up on what they had been told, and hearing that “Aha!” moment come through over the phone or in person as they’re learning the truth about how they got that particular infection, etc.  Back inside the stories…not on the 9-1-1 phones again, not on the radio where the cop-talk became a way of life, but back inside the stories where intimacy got defiled, or germy, anyway, and sometimes watching the eyes as realization comes, or as truth is rearranged or lost in the speaking of a few words.

Another thing that’s different and a concern of mine/ours, in this recent time, this current working with the health department that I do, is that of confidentiality.  Yes, the concern was there in the past, those 10 and 20 years ago in which I did this same work, but it seems that the emphasis then was upon medical information and names, not necessarily the stories and the content of those lives.  At least that’s how I remember it anyway.  And today, this day and yesterday and the literal tomorrows of my work here, all of that information is confidential, somehow, especially in print.  Their step into the clinic and the color of their car and the big tree under which it was parked in their neighborhood home and the 20 weeks at which they lost their baby and the husband or wife or boyfriend who cheated on the patient and the other, and whatever, those things aren’t mine to share…as much as I’d like to in some of their various forms, their disguised forms, their interesting stories and then, they’re not mine, somehow.  I can almost hear a voice inside myself saying “Don’t use that name.  Don’t say it aloud.  Don’t spell it while you’re doodling and sitting on hold.  Don’t whisper it as you’re typing your notes.  Don’t think it as you’re driving home, and don’t say it in the echoes of your imagination, not even in a conversation within your hidden self.  It belongs to someone else in a different place, in a different life, and it ceases to exist in yours once you’re done doing what you do with it.  If you remember it later, you had better forget it just as quickly.  If your pen starts to write it down, you’d better put it away.  When you dream at night or in the middle of the day, that beautiful name had better stay gone from your thoughts and reflections.  In all of your remembering, remember that it’s not yours.  When your heart cries with your mind in knowing why you know it, when that ache transcends reason and thought, your bones had better remember what will happen if you don’t forget it.  It’s not your name, so leave it alone.  Years might pass and places change and the context of your rotating around the sun might be different or the same…and you might start reflecting on life and your trod steps and the people you have known.  You might remember the faces of those who peopled your earlier lives in those earlier places and those other worlds, but when you start to recall their names and the places and contexts in which you knew them, you’d better remember to forget some of them.  If your self fails and your resolve dwindles or your heart still aches too much to ignore, you’d better change the frame, the context, the situation, the details, the heartbeats, the coursing blood, and the number of stairs that led to the place where you knew it.  You’d best make it so different that nothing is the same, not even the smell or the taste of the memory that resides in your cells.  Don’t use that name…it isn’t yours.” 

Anyway, if I tell stories here, they aren’t true…but they’re not made-up either.


Backyard Visitor

The pictures aren’t the greatest, given that I had to climb into the tub and take them through the window and between the bathroom blinds, but it appears that we had some type of falcon or hawk stop in one of our backyard trees for a breather…or maybe he thought he spied a mouse or something scurrying along in the morning snow.  Again, the pictures are a little grainy, and maybe not as spectacular as one of my fellow blogger’s backyard guests, but I thought it was neat having the visitor that we did. 


Wintery Weekend Wanderings

Some photos from the past couple weekends – last Sunday it was sunny and over 50 degrees, this weekend it was snowing and in the 30’s…and still beautiful.  We had to stop a few times during the hike just to absorb it all.  After having lived in the desert for the past 20-some years, it is still incredible that we are here with the mountains in our backyard.  Enjoy….


Eleven Miles from Somewhere

Yesterday morning, on my drive home from the store where I had just purchased the week’s food and other household supplies, I was looking at the neighborhoods I passed and at the smoke and steam coming from roof-top chimneys and vent pipes.  I also caught sight, through and beyond the clouds, of parts and pieces of the white and enormous mountains that line our eastern horizon.  It was and is still amazing and weird and wonderful to find myself in this place in the middle hours of this last day of the year, in a place so new and strange and removed from where I was last year.  As I drove those snow-lined streets back to our neighborhood proper, I happened to notice a mile-marker sign that was posted along the road.  It said “Mile 11.”  Now, I am familiar with state highways and roads that leave their freeway confines and become or pass along the same route as a city street, like US Highway 60 in Arizona that becomes or passes-along on Grand Avenue, bisecting the Valley of the Sun to take travelers on their way to Wickenburg or beyond, and I know of US Highway 89 that takes us from Flagstaff to Page, and to Kanab and Panguitch, and then marks a parallel course to I-15 as it leads north to Provo and Salt Lake, eventually becoming State Street that runs the central length of our city, but I was not familiar with any such state route or US highway that had turned into 700 East as it made its course through the city.

Seeing the sign made me wonder about the eleven miles that had passed on the other side of that mile marker and how many other miles existed in the opposite and other direction, whatever and whichever way that actually was.  It struck me as odd, too, and maybe allegorical even, in the processing of what yesterday was and what today is in the marking of time in a year and this present time or era or segment of my life and my family’s lives in this time of crazy and dramatic change.  We’ve come to this station and place in our lives, taken such drastic steps to find ourselves in a new state and locale, and work and living and natural environment and our heads and hearts and sometimes emotions are spinning and wondering and looking for something familiar to grasp and hold-on to as we attempt to regain our balance and direction.  And here we are then, eleven miles from somewhere, remembering and thinking about the past and wondering about the future, holding-on to each other, leaning against one another in our little relocated family, awaiting the arrival of others and missing those who won’t or cannot join us…and our friends, of course, we remember and miss them too, those precious ones who, even from outside the circle of our family and intimates, loved us and brought us joy and companionship for the past twenty years and more.

So it’s not only us, but you, too, and then, who on this first day of a new year are eleven miles from somewhere.  Where are you going, what are you doing, how are you, and we, too, going to measure this year when it’s gone, like we’ve done to the one that is just passed and passing?


The Present

The notes dropped softly into the quiet air of the darkened room, falling easily like thick snowflakes on a wintry and wood-smokey night.  They slid sometimes in icy wonder up the scales and tinkled down again and pattered along the floor like a baby’s footsteps as he’s learning to walk, all wobbly-legged and unsure, patting his bare toes in sprinkled notes and laughs of fancy and then.  They remind the man of a music box that used to sit on the shelf in other babies’ rooms in days and nights of a past that is thin and fleeting.  Cars and cars pass and the furnace clicks on and a smell of warm dust and human dander swirls against the cold walls as another tune steps from the stereo and moves him further along and into the night.  The muted lights from something moving on the quiet television that glow through his closed eyelids make him wonder for a second why it’s on, but then it doesn’t matter…as the notes keep rising and falling like a tiny heartbeat.  A tiny heartbeat that is just below the other notes and endures with its tender strength and doesn’t go away even when the music ends, that one little note that lay underneath and within and kept on with its steady, un-fading ping ping ping ping, and then, that heartbeat.  There is an Indian running swiftly in tinkling notes of raindrops and teardrops of gentle cadence, a rushing of golden tango-notes like freckles falling on a fair and tender face, and a person dining alone in a happy sadness that isn’t sad, with a movement and sway that comforts and soothes in its quietude. They are notes in their touching caress and the passing of the minutes and hours of a night that lure the man into a wakeful sleep where his heart beats slow and calm and there is nothing else, just the song.