03 October 2010
the watchman watches
I'm sitting under the watchful eye of the Watchman Tower at Zion National Park. The setting sun, until about 5 minutes ago when it disappeared behind the other canyon wall, was making the Watchman burn red-orange, brighter and steadier than fire.
Now, though, the sun has set for those of us in the canyon, but the Watchman still watches.
In this place that immediately brings to mind time immemorial, God's finger pointing in creation, and our particular smallness of existence, in this place, I'm using the Internet.
I know why this astounds me. I want to feel disconnected from modern life, but even here in a canyon, surrounded by millions of years of erosion, even here I can be connected.
This is the beauty and the beast of the 21st Century. I'm in a place of breathtaking sights, but if I wanted to, after catching my breath, I could call my best friend and describe for her what I'm seeing.
I would say to her:
Everywhere I look out here, my little eye lands on something else to describe, and my little eye is on overload.
On the hike today to the Emerald Pools, up canyon from our campground, I went around a bend in the well-traveled path and there, rising in the distance ahead of me, surprising me, was a white cliff. It sat on top of the red rock, and there was a transition section of pink-streaked rock. On top of the white peak, there were trees growing, scattered about as if they were thrown by a careless child. How do the trees grow out of the rock like that? Where do the roots go? How deep can they reach into the mountain? Is the tree always a split second from falling?
I would tell her about the wildflowers, yellow and looking like black-eyed susans but I don't think they are, swaying in the canyon breeze.
There are fruits on the prickly pear cactus right now, these bulbous purple fruits, and bulbous, a word usually applied to noses, really is the right word to describe them. They look like the nose of a cartoon character known for his sense of smell, a superhero trait that doesn't seem all that exciting.
I'd mention the sky. The blue of the sky out West always makes me blink more than normal. Blink: how can that blue be true? Am I seeing the same color blue as everyone else here? How can they all stand such a blatant reminder of goodness and beauty? Blink. The blue makes me think of that line from Our Town: Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?
This place makes me yearn for connection. I just didn't know that there would also be an Internet connection.