The writer’s dilemma: as much as those of us who think we have something to say also tend to believe we perceive the entire firmament of truth associated with our subjects and can name all its constellations, each of us actually stands on a cliff with limited views. We can only speak to the best of our abilities from those positions, speak of and to what we see now in the best language available to us, knowing that we’re missing something, all the while looking forward to finding the frontiers of insight that form at the edges of our current narrative takes. This letter is such an effort. Given the time I had to register my concerns, the current developing attitudes about the “usefulness” of public lands and oil and gas dominance, limited character space for submitting comments electronically, and my current view from the cliff, I felt pressing need to say my say and wrote a “comment” to the Bureau of Land Management regarding my best understanding of the risks oil and gas development would pose to Crossfire Canyon, aka Recapture Canyon, and those of us living near its edges. Readers may notice that I’m not inclined to outrage or agitation over uncertainty. This may be because I’ve faced so many threatening situations for so long that I’ve learned something about directing my focus and efforts and, in cases where the happy ending failed to develop despite my best efforts, living with unfortunate outcomes and what they truth they reveal. But perhaps something in the comment’s contents will have meaning and effect.
Subject: Canyon Country District March 2018 Oil and Gas Lease Sale
Please withdraw Parcels 29 and 30 (Map 7) from your auction and consider permanently closing both parcels to oil and gas development. Three good reasons exist to take such action: 1) Parcel 29 and part of Parcel 30 border the rural residential area at the end of Browns Canyon Road where I and several families live quite close to their westernmost boundaries; 2) both Parcel 29 and 30 cover an environmentally sensitive area, with 29 taking in part of the canyon bottom that includes a series of 10-year-old beaver ponds and their developing riparian zone, as well as a black bear migration route; and 3) both parcels cover an area of dense prehistoric cultural remains that the BLM has already determined to be at risk and worthy of permanent protection. Continue reading “Dear BLM, Parcel 29 is beloved to me”
This is the third part of a three-part entry. To read part one, go here. To read part two, go here.
Glancing at Belle, I can tell she needs water, and soon. I lead her away from the beaver ponds before she’s tempted beyond her ability to resist to drink from its giardia-laced teapots. I hurry her to the shade of a big juniper, another of my stops, and sit down in the dirt beneath a broken branch that hangs across the trail. Obviously, Belle needs more water than I can provide by cupping my hand. I relent and pour her a drink in the canteen lid. She laps four or five lids full then lies down in the shade without my prompting, her shoulder pressing against my knee. She pants rapidly but seems to have gotten enough to drink, refusing another offered lid.
Looking around inside the juniper’s shadow, I notice a single penstemon blossom, looking like a wind sock on a pole, glowing red against the litter. Its color leaps to the eye from a backdrop of live blue-green and dead brown juniper stubble; last year’s curled, tawny oak leaves; green wisps of grass growing in a clump; spider webs clouded with dirt and other debris; and round, purplish-blue juniper berries dropped into grey-toned soil speckled with blacker grains, probably of decayed organic material. From somewhere up-canyon, a canyon wren’s laugh pipes its downward-falling scale. Continue reading “Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt.3) by Patricia Karamesines”
As often happens, this offering of field notes runs long–so long I’ve broken it into parts. Even more of interest to me than usual unfolded during this trip to Crossfire Canyon (not the canyon’s real name). Because of the nature of this experience, some of the material leans toward the technological, so many thanks in advance to those who read the series all the way through.
In the planetary equivalent of a full house, a total lunar eclipse late on December 20th combined with the arrival of the 2010 winter solstice on the 21st to lay down a winning cosmic hand. My family and I watched part of Earth’s occulting of the moon. It was like seeing the moon speed through its full set of phases, waning then waxing in a few hours instead of a month’s time, with the €œdark phase € played by the moon wearing a smoky red vizard. Except we didn’t make it to that climactic red phase. When the shadow-serpent had swallowed two-thirds of the egg, clouds from a drenching storm out of the Pacific that had discombobulated parts of California rolled into southern Utah and eclipsed the eclipse. Continue reading “Field Notes #11: Winter Solstice 2010, Part One”
Dec. 21st, a.m. As I started out, temperatures bumped around in the low 20s. A ragged ceiling of waxy yellow clouds sometimes let through bright sunlight. Mostly, though, the cloud cover took the polish off the snow. An unexpectedly cold breeze chilled the denim of my jeans and cut through my gloves, making my hands ache. I pulled the overlong sleeves of my parka’s polar fleece liner over my gloves to better protect my hands. Continue reading “Field Notes #9: How I celebrated winter solstice”
October 2, 2009. This morning, as I walk down the road toward Crossfire, I barely avoid stepping on a small, silver-and-grey-winged butterfly sitting on the pavement, trying, I think, to warm itself after our first night of ice-on-the-dog’s-dish cold. The insect’s coloration matches that of surrounding gravel. Only its thin wings and their accompanying shadow tip me off in time. I veer. Very slightly, the upfolded wings lean away from my foot swinging past. It’s hard to not step on something that looks like a piece of your path. Continue reading “Field Notes #8”
Mom came home at just after 11 AM on Saturday and told me that she wanted me to finish what I was doing and go down into Crossfire Canyon. She explained that the creek had stopped flowing, leaving some fish stranded in a puddle, at the mercy of garter snakes.
I was working at the time and it took half an hour to finish what I was doing, devour some watermelon and put together a my gear: a butterfly net, a metal bucket, a notebook and some water. At last, I rolled my bike out of the garage and took off. Continue reading “Field Notes #7, pt. two”
This is the first part in a two-part Field Notes entry written by two authors. I’ll take the first part, my son Saul the second. It wasn’t my intention to put up Field Notes again so soon, but this story is just too good to wait for.
July 11, 2009. As I take Coyote Way into Crossfire, I find its coyote gate keep reduced to little more than a fur doormat. The carcass’s light bones seem to be floating away downhill. Many are missing. So that took, what? A little over three months? Three months for decomposition to the point of fur and bleached bone.
We’ve had a run of hot weather, so I’m curious about how the beaver ponds in Crossfire are faring, especially the last one located along my route. Around this time last year, that pond dried up completely. Dozens of small fish locked in between its dams died in the mud as its last pocket of creek water turned inside out, summer’s heat having emptied it of its currency.
As I approach the dam, I can see the creek bed below it has run dry. That means there’s no flow out of the dam. That probably means €¦ yes, the pond is empty.
But walking to the bank and visually following the curve of the muddy pond bottom to its lowest point, I discover a puddle, three feet long and two feet wide, sunk in a crease. Its murky, greenish-brown surface roils. Desperate fish, I think, trapped in the last shreds of water heating up fast in the rising morning temperatures, losing oxygen, losing volume. Continue reading “Field Notes #7, pt. one”