That subtle ridge is the edge of an exquisite slot canyon, the perfect metaphor for the beauty and enchantment that is hidden from our view
Every time I spend time in the Great Basin desert, I feel an irrepressible sense of resonance. That soil is in me, energetically and literally (my mother being conceived in that landscape implicates me too.) This time my experience was heightened by reading Rebecca Solnit‘s early book about this region, Savage Dreams. Her unique ability to effortlessly blend the personal, political, critical and poetic made it the perfect companion as I explored a landscape of such depth, complexity and power.
And once again I come back to the words of nature writer Ellen Meloy:
Of all the things I wondered about on this land, I wondered the hardest about the seduction of certain geographies that feel like home—not by story or blood but merely by their forms and colors. How our perceptions are our only internal map of the world, how there are places that claim you and places that warn you away. How you can fall in love with the light.
For a homebody surrounded by the familiar or a traveler exploring the strange, there can be no better guide to a place than the weight of its air, the behavior of its light, the shape of its water, the textures of rock and feather, leaf and fur, and the ways that humans bless, mark or obliterate them. Each of us possesses five fundamental, enthralling maps to the natural world: sight, touch, taste, hearing, smell. As we unravel the threads that bind us to nature, as denizens of data and artifice, amid crowds and clutter, we become miserly with these loyal and exquisite guides, we numb our sensory intelligence. This failure of attention will make orphans of us all.
Peek-a-boo Slot Canyon, near Escalante Utah