First you have to see it. Can you see it?
Maybe you can’t go all the way. Maybe the rocks underfoot prove too much for you, even if the saguaro forest at Spur Cross Ranch tempts you.
Beefy, odd, some more masculine than others.
A well placed bench welcomes us. Behind is a mature mesquite, shaggy and fissured.
A plaque on the back of the seat has a few words from
Walking in Beauty, the closing prayer from the Navajo Way blessing ceremony:
In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk
It has become beauty again
The lines are supposed to bring peace and calm, and I’m beginning to feel iit, surrounded by an intense aroma that floats on the hot air, herbal and intoxicating, combined with the smell of horse. So many ride these Cave Creek trails.
My father would always find a bench. I don’t like to walk, he always said. I never understood. You’d find him seated, whether on the side of a trail, say, or on a bench at one end of a museum exhibit even when the greatest Jackson Pollack canvas in the world could be found at the other end. He wouldn’t move.
This trail has ancient rocks that have never moved, hot to the touch.
My mother says it’s strange because when my father hit the tennis court he was a demon, with a killer serve.
I think now he was just at home in his skin. He didn’t need art, or a view from a hiking trail.
Sometimes you find a tableau in the desert. Frozen, totally stationary, looking as if were posed by a mighty hand. My mother found one today.
Sometimes you see a saguaro that took protection as it grew under a larger plant, one quite different from itself.
My father never blinked when I said I wanted to go to grad school for an MFA in poetry. What a useless endeavor! He bankrolled the whole thing, and launched me as a writer.
Am I growing up yet? Like the saguaro, I’m taking a long time to be in my skin. I’m trying to be patient. “Patience is also a form of action,” said Auguste Rodin.
There might be birds here, sometime, if you wait patiently.
Two century plants side by side, one quite dead, one obviously alive.
Sometimes the llve and the dead grasses grow together.
In one of his most acute descriptions, Walt Whitman praised “the beautiful uncut hair of graves.”
Today, down a hill, Cave Creek.
Little more than a trickle now. In another season the rains will come and the creek will rise.
All we can do is observe and be patient.
Wendell Berry writes:
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
Not a long trail today, but one just the right length.