Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Strange Day

Tiny arches, this view about three feet high

I had the usual anticipation this morning—another hike, another strange canyon, new distorted rocks.  I opened the door and immediately felt warmth, unusual for pre-sunrise, and wind from the south, also unusual to one who lives here and knows nature’s patterns.  Looking up, I found no stars, and that shook me.  I think that one of the reasons I get away with what most people call danger is that I can change in a New York minute, turn on a penny’s worth of evidence, a hunch, intuition.

I had told him I wanted to see a flash flood before I leave Utah, and he said it gets scary around here in a thunderstorm.  Only nine inches of rain falls on an average year, and most of it comes in violent storms.

Any anasazi would have taken this morning’s signs as ominous, any cowboy who came to these mesas, even a uranium prospector bent on radioactive gold, and even me after three weeks. A sense comes with the desert, a feeling.

So I didn’t go the canyon, didn’t see the golden sunrise, but went instead to a cafĂ©, ordered coffee.  I sat outside, which normally would be cold at this hour.  My sitting was humidly and unpleasantly warm, but interesting because I watched a thunderstorm come in from the south, blacken the sunrise, and move out of here, all within thirty minutes.  It dropped no rain. 

The wind stopped, the day turned hotter than any since my arrival.  It felt wrong to go out in the sun for long, but not wrong to make the short drive into The Arches for a walk down Park Avenue, which they named for the rock “buildings” that line it.


Here is my castle with adjoining tower from which I survey my kingdom and the works that I have done. 


This rock was set squarely on its pedestal many years ago, but I moved it to the side just enough to worry everyone.

A Chucker, as the hunters call it, Hungarian Partridge, descendent from the ones Susan Dobay brought here from the old country many years ago.


  1. Wow, what a day, and excitingly and amusingly told. I especially like your precarious and creative "creations" In all it was an interesting day, in a different way from others, and the pictures, from the little peepholes to the Hungarian Partridge, perfect to tell the story. All that is missing is the ominous sky! Maybe it was hard to capture... I am just back from the Poetry Garden... in a different world from you but where you will join me soon!

  2. Susan RogersJune 29, 2011

    Yes, the ominious sky! But I felt it in your words, like seeing a portrait of a disaster from looking into the face of a person gazing at it. Seeing the clouds in your eyes. What did the thunder sound like? Was there lightening?
    I am glad you have such a fine tuned instrument of intuition to keep you safe.
    looking forward to joining you and kathabela soon....

  3. Susan RogersJune 29, 2011

    by the way, your picture of the "Tiny Arches" looks like a face, sideways.

  4. Thanks Kathabela and Susan for seeing the storm without a picture. I just finished reading Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey and I see storms on the desert through his words without a single picture. Many of his descriptions I have now seen and photographed, but he did it without a camera. I do have some pictures of dark clouds but they don’t give the feel of storm.

  5. Gail RadiceJune 29, 2011

    I remember years back having this same feeling while camping on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The eery warmth, humidity, and the quiet that comes with an approaching storm in that area. It feels claustrophobic in a sense, like your space has suddenly become smaller. I guess that is the uneasy part of it that makes you extra aware, to be aware. Yet, in my experience, I also found it kind of comforting too, like a warm security blanket. In my case, a hike through the forest to get to a view point suddenly produced an abrupt downpour that came and lifted in minutes. Soaked to the bone in 60 seconds, and then sunshine and triple digit temperature the rest of the day. The thunder and lightning show over the North Rim was spectacular to watch afterward. It is a fond memory.
    Like the Partridge and the balancing rock action! : )

  6. Yes Gail, we’ve seen some scary thunderstorms, been soaked and blown, rattled and flashed by them. But I have never seen a flash flood in a desert canyon.

  7. Yes, Susan it does look like a face, maybe the face of the storm!? Gail, Susan and Sharon, look forward to a reunion soon!

  8. the "face" startled me at first, it is so unusual. Fantastic photos, Sharon, and your storyline interesting and delightful. Thank you!

  9. I used to see faces, still do sometimes, but I’ve met so many in these rocks they’ve become like a crowd, people who don’t matter. Thanks for pointing this one out, a wise-looking old fellow I think.

    Erika, does this mean you are returned to the motherland?