We see faces; we hear voices

We see a face in the shining visage of the full moon.

It’s not so much a matter of there being a fully developed

set of facial features on its surface to perceive

as it is that we, looking for facial features, find them.

 

It’s what we’ve been doing all our lives.

 

When our parents first held us,

we looked into their eyes;

we recognized features there,

though we had no names for them:

eyes, a nose, a mouth,

set in a roundish, oval.

 

And from that point on,

when we heard a voice or recognized

the form of a human, we looked for that

indicator of their intent,

that source of love and approval

and nurturing

— the face.

 

Many times, I’ve noticed,

especially when my mind is tired,

that staring into seemingly random patterns on walls

on floors, even ceilings, that my brain will form those patterns into faces.

Bearded and bewigged ones, angelic ones;

too many Lincolns, Washingtons, and cherubs to count.

 

But it all links back, ultimately to those first experiences,

when being lifted from crib or cradle, we came quickly to realize

that the best indicator that we were loved

was a smiling, cooing face, searching our own

for signs of a response.

 

I think that’s why the craters and shadows

we perceive on our friendly sallow-faced satellite

most often seem to be smiling back at us.

 

*******

 

Western outdoors adventure writer Craig Childs

tells of an experience deep in a slot canyon

leading into the main basin of the Grand Canyon.

 

He had been wandering interconnected canyons for days,

isolated from human companionship,

when he heard voices ahead, hidden in the folds of the rock.

 

He definitely was drawing closer

and the voices became clearer as he approached.

He could almost make out the words of their

boisterous conversation,

 

He was about to shout a greeting

when he turned a bend and found water flowing over rocks.

 

Like faces from the visual,

we seek to make human conversation

from the auditory.

 

It’s almost enough evidence to make you think

we are deeply, to the core of our souls,

engineered for connection to each other,

to the giving and receiving of love and attention

and mutual validation through our interactions.

 

Perhaps we are all bits of the Trinity,

longing for the give and take of connectedness.

 

Bits of the Trinity longing to share the give and take

of life and love with humanity,

even if we have to create them ourselves.

Colorado come to Cowtown

The massive quantities of rain that fell here were even more drenching in counties to our north, where they also spawned tornados and more of the 60 mph straight line winds that we had a week or two ago. But walking the trail along Overton Creek, not far from my house was fascinating, a touch of mountain stream action.

Gently flowing creek
flows with roar of Colorado’s
rapid-flowing streams

Floods, tornados
flash through places north of here
but we get the pleasure
of water dashing over rocks

Surprised itself with its own speed
Roaring, roaring, roaring
with delight.

Approaching Enchanted Rock

No matter how great most experiences are, there’s almost always some way we can figure out how it could have been improved if we had it to do over again, that’s all I’m saying…

 

I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy

streaming up the side of the huge dome of red granite,

joining the antlike stream of humans in hiking clothes,

like some work party intent on plundering a giant sugar bowl.

 

I’m not saying that reaching the 425-foot summit

with its tinajas holding rainwater

and supporting little colonies of algae and green plants

amid the red, rugged granite

wasn’t worth the climb,

that the view wasn’t at least somewhat enchanting itself.

 

What I am saying is that if I had it to do over again,

I would have lingered longer

as I made the morning leg of my daytrip,

taken a few minutes to pull over to the roadside

to admire the furrowed fields of red and pink clouds

covering all but the sharply contrasting edges of brilliant blue sky background

of one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve seen.

 

And I would have lingered at the side of the highway

as I crested the little rise when you enter the valley

that holds Enchanted Rock

and her smaller granite dome sisters

to admire a view more engaging

than that offered by the summit of the great rock.

 

That’s all I’m saying…

 

 

Colorado at 8,000 feet

The wildflower meadow was near the little up-sloping spot where we found the tipi (see yesterday’s post). Wildflowers with a view. It was  a great day.

 

Mountain wildflowers

incredibly diverse

from the blue columbines

 

to the pink phlox,

25 or 30 kinds,

dazzling the eye.

 

Richness beyond price,

free for the taking.

Tipi near the Divide

Craig Childs became one of my favorite, colorful Western nature and wildscaping writers many years after our trip to western Colorado’s mountains. A hummingbird stained-glass piece we bought in Ouray from an artist just as he finished it was only one bit of memorabilia we returned with.

 

Traveling the western slopes

of the Rockies,

a few hundred yards

from the highway,

we stumble upon a tipi in a meadow

ringed by tall pines,

patchy snow,

rocky ground,

early wildflowers.

 

Twenty years later

I read a passage in a book

by wildlife writer  Craig Childs,

an adventurer,

who mentions being lost,

finding his way in a blizzard

back to his tipi

—   also near Ouray

and the Continental Divide.

 

 

Green ranger

You kind of have to wonder just where they recruited this young man to work in the new Buffalo River National Park. It’s a bit dodgy to draw a map on the side of your Park Service pickup, even if both you and the truck are green.

 

Seeking a trailhead

in the newly minted park,

we found a ranger.

 

And there, roadside in

Buffalo National River

he gave directions.

 

No paper at hand,

he carefully drew his map

on Park Service pickup

 

with a wood pencil.

He was newly minted too,

careless kid in green

 

to match his pickup,

color of his wood pencil,

the surrounding trees.

 

 

High above the river

It was a 17 year old who shared my last name. 

 

High above the river

at certain points along the ridge line trail

I’d leap from one rock formation to another

there in the Ozarks,

out to a promontory

for a better view of the Buffalo River

in the valley far below,

and the distant hills.

 

And later in the day,

listening to one of those

local mountain stations

with such limited reach

they sound like

an old style telephone party line

or someone reading off

the contents of

a supermarket bulletin board,

I heard of the falling death

that same day

of an Ozark native

who shared my last name.

Chills down my spine.

 

 

Turkey, deer, buffalo

Though this sounds dreamlike — or delusional — this really happened. I did chase a flock of turkeys and end up too close to a giant buffalo with his feet folded under him in a woods in the Wichita National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma. And he did indeed begin to rise to his feet before I withdrew to safety. Eerie, unreal, but nonetheless true.

 

As turkey crossed trail

I took off after him and

found the other 12.

 

Chased them through the woods

and nearly spooked the three deer

between me and the

 

monster buffalo

with his legs folded under

his massive body.

 

Testing boundaries,

I approached as close as I dared

until he rustled.

 

At just 30 feet,

eyes staring from his shaggy

giant, horned, brown head.

 

I was close enough,

part of me concentrating

on the nearby trees

 

I had kept in mind

to shelter my swift retreat

If he rose to feet.

 

Lady bug, lady bug

Truth can indeed be stranger than just about anything. I’d taken the circuit trail around an extinct volcano in southwest Colorado, when about halfway around, I came to a tree with a 4- inch diameter trunk. The tree was coated in a one-bug deep layer of lacquered red — lady bugs — apparently funneled through a pass here, collecting in an artful display.

 

At the edge of this caldera

in Southwestern Colorado,

a wind-sculpted tree is coated,

wrapped in a sheath of red and black-spotted ladybugs

gathered here where the wind

blows through a long

and undreamed of migration route,

like those maps of flyways

taken by ducks and hawks and songbirds.

But this hidden pathway

is only for six-legged insects

with tiny curved wing-covering red shields

that now make this tree trunk

as jeweled as those cow skulls

trimmed out in dazzling, flat, flaked bits

of semi-precious turquoise.