Tag Archives: Crossfire Canyon

Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt.3) by Patricia Karamesines

Desert storm with rainbow

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

Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt. 2) by Patricia Karamesines

Brown's Canyon.
This canyon is a tributary canyon to Crossfire Canyon..

Part Two of a three-part post. To read Part One, go here.

Nearing the grove, I find the trail leading into it paved with a light mosaic of shed brown and yellow leaves. I resist the impulse to resent fall’s steady encroachment into summer’s back edge. When I reach the interior of the woods, Belle, very thirsty, trots ahead to a beaver-felled trunk, our customary bench, and plops down to wait for me to offer her water. I open my waist pack to discover that I’ve forgotten to bring her little plastic water dish. Thinking about how that might have happened, I can’t even remember why it isn’t in the pack. Maybe I took it out of the pack when I refilled her water bottle in the kitchen then forgot to put it back in. This is the kind of mistake I make when I’m worn down. I’m unhappy about this error and try to figure out what to do. I cup my hand and pour water into it, continuing to pour as Belle laps water off my palm. Looking at her face, I can tell it isn’t enough. The cap on my canteen is big and will probably hold 4 ounces of water, but I don’t want to offer the lid of my canteen to my dog’s tongue unless the need becomes urgent. Continue reading Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt. 2) by Patricia Karamesines

Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt. 1) by Patricia Karamesines

Crossfire in the Fall

What a mystery is the air, what an enigma to these human senses! [T]he air is the most pervasive presence I can name, enveloping, embracing, and caressing me both inside and out, moving in ripples along my skin, flowing between my fingers, swirling around my arms and thighs, rolling in eddies along the roof of my mouth, slipping ceaselessly thought the throat and trachea to fill the lungs, to feed my blood, my heart, my self. I cannot act, cannot speak, cannot think a single thought without the participation of this fluid element. I am immersed in its depths as surely as fish are immersed in the sea. 

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous

Part One of a three-part post.

August 24, 2013. When I head out today for Crossfire Canyon, I step into a world in motion. Currents of surface wind, smooth in texture, cool to the touch, flood out of the south, curling around every solid body be it person, fencepost, or stone, leaning into every curve in the terrain. Weeds and spindly desert sunflowers undulate in it. As I pass my neighbor’s orchard, waves of wind sound in the apple and pear trees’ leaves, oceanic in temperament, noising like breakers crushing themselves against sand.

Here on White Mesa, the character of the desert air ranges widely from spring’s sandpaper winds that rattle windows and flake shingles off roofs, to the sudden dust-ups of sand spouts or dust devils, to dead still, the odd hour where the air’s quiescence reminds me of a motionless pool deposited in a stream bed after a flash flood has rumbled through. Today’s wind surges without half smothering me. I’ve walked into mesa blasts that grapple with me for my breath. This wind is respiration friendly. Continue reading Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt. 1) by Patricia Karamesines

The Trap, Part Three by Patricia K

Stone and junipers in Recapture Canyon. Photo by Saul Karamesines.  Click image for larger view.

Part One here.  Part Two here.

I wasn’t enraged, like a trapped coyote, because I hadn’t been really trapped, but I felt plenty angry as I put the Danger Tree behind me.  What a dumb trick, I thought, quite possibly one that could have ignited more trouble.  And yes, probably, it had been intended for BLM personnel.  That being the case, I was glad I’d triggered the gadget instead of a BLM officer, who might have not only taken its message more seriously but also regarded it as a threat, especially in the wake of the of local agones in which the BLM had played either black hat or white hat roles (sometimes both), depending on the angle from which you viewed their actions.  After the 2009  artifact raid, they’d pulled some of their rangers out of back country recreational areas for their safety. The mood of San Juan County residents simmering at the high heat it was, authorities harbored concerns that more radical elements might express outrage over Dr. Redd’s tragic loss and arrests of friends and relatives through violence rather than by the traditional outlets of Fourth of July anti-environmentalist floats, ATV activism and rallies, and the usual long, rambling letters to the editor that typically publish in local newspapers. Continue reading The Trap, Part Three by Patricia K

Death of an old dog, part five, by Patricia

I meet a young couple in the canyon. A dog in their company tells me more about them than they guess. I see a piñon pine tree alight with fall sunshine. As I exit the canyon, I discover a prying eye. This is another long and the last installment in this series but it isn’t the end of the story.

For late November, Crossfire Creek was running high.  Usually, a few flash floods in October knock things around a bit, then bone-dry air siphons the water off into the sky, leaving the creek bed bare except where beavers have gardened two springs to create a year-round water park half a mile long.  As I stood on the bank above a pond contained behind one of the lower dams, I turned to see a young couple I didn’t know walking toward me down the trail, my neighbor’s Welsh corgi, “Goliath,” loping ahead.  November weather in the Four Corners region sometimes runs to the mild side.  The couple wore short-sleeved shirts and were holding hands as they strolled.  Seeing the dog, I supposed the pair to be relatives of my neighbors whose house lay east of mine across a city block’s worth of pasture.  I greeted them and Goliath. Continue reading Death of an old dog, part five, by Patricia

Death of an old dog, part four, by Patricia

Aquila chrysaetos closeup by Richard_Bartz

In which I make my way into Crossfire Canyon and meet a wondrous bird.  I muse upon the experience of eye contact with other species, referencing N. Scott Momaday and Martin Buber.  I see the light, loose and free in the canyon–it’s beautiful. Part one here, part two here, part three here.

As I worked my way down the trail, I discovered that my right knee was finally healing from a months-long bout with tendonitis and perhaps nerve damage.  As recently as two weeks earlier I hadn’t been able to raise that leg very high, so I tripped frequently over stones in the trail or fell on my backside on that more difficult-to-negotiate rock outcrop down which I had to lower myself to get where I wanted to go.  But this time, no trips, no falls.  Still worried that I was inviting further trouble, I forced myself down the trail. As I walked onto an overlook I frequent to see what’s happening in the canyon below–whether or not cows are lounging on the trail, for instance–something fine happened. Continue reading Death of an old dog, part four, by Patricia

Field Notes #10

March 15, 2010.  This winter paved the desert over, storm after storm laying down two-to-three feet of whitetop, setting spring back by more than half a month.  Since December 21st, I’ve been out only rarely, the deep snow creating hazards well beyond my abilities to negotiate them.  Who knew that when I moved to southeastern Utah I’d find myself wanting a pair of snowshoes?  Last year I hiked all the way through winter, staying home only when snowfall piled up over eight inches, which it hardly ever did.

I tried going out yesterday.  An overnight cloud cover had insulated the ground against a freeze.  The result: dense but soft snow, still ranging in many  place from 10-20 inches deep, and on bare ground mud so fluid that, holding still, you moved, gliding on a sloppy escalator whichever direction happened to be “down.”  Every step on snow resulted in a 10-20 inch drop straight to the ground, a vertical fall I’ve learned to move with on a limited basis. The body learns from falling, but when it happens every footstep, you expend a great deal of energy moving the least distance forward.  Meanwhile each footfall on mud resulted in movement barely under control in an only slightly less vertical plane.  Downhill in spots I surfed muddy rolls and creases, riding the soles of my shoes like mini-shortboards. Continue reading Field Notes #10

The Downstream Principle of Language

I’ve cross-posted this over at the onymous blog Times and Seasons in  follow up to a three-part series I wrote there a couple years back.  If you wish to read the original series, the introduction to the T&S post contains links to all three parts.

September 17th marked the two-year anniversary of the closing of Crossfire Canyon (real name: Recapture Canyon) to off-highway vehicular (OHV) travel.  Since then, the canyon has become an even more volatile epicenter of rhetorical and legal power struggles over land use policy.  Private citizens, environmental and off-road advocacy groups, and the federal government have all entered dogs in the fight. Continue reading The Downstream Principle of Language

Getting digs in: On the 6/11 SE Utah artifact raids

Saturday, June 13.  As I was coming up out of Crossfire I heard voices.  Much has happened lately in our small, southeast Utah town, so I was curious about who might be coming into the canyon.  I saw a woman on the rocks above me, well off the trail, turning back in response to a companion’s call.  Picking up my step to be sure to meet them, I caught up with the two retirement-aged women—out-of-towners—as one helped the other over the arched rebar cattle guard at the trailhead.  They had no idea I was there.  I greeted them then asked where they were from.  They were coy about saying, replying only that they were visiting.  “You?” they asked.  I answered I lived up the road but was not originally from the area.  “Are you going to see the cliff dwellings?” I asked.  There’s a nice Ancestral Puebloan (“Anasazi”) structure at the base of the cliffs, a little off the beaten trail.  “Yes,” they said.   Then one of them pointed to the yellow, green, and white, heavy-gauge metal, BLM sign posted at the trailhead announcing the canyon’s September 2007 closure to off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and displaying the extent of the restricted area.

“But we really wanted to see this,” one said.

“This sign?” I said, puzzled. Continue reading Getting digs in: On the 6/11 SE Utah artifact raids