Canyonlands Journal
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Desert Walks

In mountain wilderness, my habit is to walk from sunrise to sunset. Friends suggest that I should pause more and “be in” rather than “move through.” But if a meditation serves the spirit, why meddle? Buddhists chant, Dervishes dance, I hike. And a sense of place slips in quietly through body’s urban armor.

My first visit to Utah’s red rock canyons brings a different experience. At noon, the dry washes shimmer with heat waves, trumping mind’s will to move. Body, wiser than mind, closes down – eyes, nose, ears, skin. And so I travel short distances, pausing at small pools to wet hat and neckband and stopping to shelter in shaded alcoves.

Late afternoon brings dramatic changes. Sun’s glare diminishes, and, as with a lover’s caress, a light breeze refreshes and tantalizes skin. Eyes inherited from a people who evolved in the filtered light of forest canopy, once again take in.

Dusk now. When only a few hours ago the junipers sagged like dusty tramps, their turquoise berries glow like fireflies and alpenglow colors sandstone walls. Frogs begin to sing their lust and bees hum in the sweetness of yellow barberry.

The desert is dancing in color, sound and fragrance.

land of little water –
washed clean
by the walking

Note: the haiku/aphorism was modeled on one by my poet friend, Chris Bullock. This is a revision of a haibun originally published in Roadrunner Haiku Journal, February 2007.

Image: Desert Lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus)

desert lupine (lupinus)