Monday, April 18, 2011

Death Valley Desert, Wildfires & Gratitude, Sunday Meditation

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans”.... John Lennon
Time has moved by at warp speed and I'm realizing I haven't posted for over six weeks. So I suppose I've been taking a breath, or two, away from the little screen that captures my words and images and sends them to who knows where or to whom....

The Desert, Death Valley
I finally got my taste of "Southwest" kind of terrain. We set off on a two and a half week road trip (love them) which included the desert. Death Valley, always wanted to go, finally made it. And added this to my list of National Parks visited, I want to experience them all. How to describe something so vast and so diverse... let me see, did you know Death Valley has very high undulating sand dunes? And a 150 mile long valley floor, called Badwater Basin that has white salt flats on it? Yellow canyons colored like mustard. A canyon named "Artist's Palette" because of the colors - red, ochre, sienna, brown, black, turquoise, all mixed up, just like a palette against the cliffs. Volcanic craters. Mountains, with very high points to look down at the valley on several sides. Flowers. Lots of raucous ravens. An actual Spanish castle in the cliffs of a canyon. Slickrock, narrow canyon passages. And more.
It was very warm (for me) in March, mid-80's, I wouldn't dare wait any later to go. I have to say it was stunningly beautiful in it's starkness and harsh terrain. I love the wide open space, seeing forever, big skies, and all the other cliche sayings about that kind of landscape...... nature undressed, getting down to the bare bones of what's essential, and letting my artist's eye relish the colors, shapes, lines and dancing mirages..... I had fun with my sketchbook and paints. And I left reluctantly, but filled with inspiration.

Sunday Meditations - Wildfires and Gratitude
One day you are peacefully going about your life immersed into your world, your routines. And the next, nature throws some sparks your way, maybe sets a blaze into your world. And it wakes you up (again) to the enormity of our universe, of what a small piece of it you are, of the greater forces always present.

This past week nature stirred some massive storms in the Texas panhandle. Hot dry dusty wind, severe drought conditions with no rain in months, so conditions were ripe for the huge fires that raged across the plains, pushed by 60 mile an hour winds, no mountains or anything to stop them from advancing. There were many homes burned down and lives turned upside down.
Among the lucky, were my two brothers. They both live in the rural areas surrounded by pastureland and both had huge walls of fire raging nearby - one up to the back of the house (see photo's, courtesy of Jonathan Clubb) after it had eaten nearby houses, and the other, across the road from his house. Evacuations, road blocks. Lots of firemen. Very scary.
Foremost, I am so thankful none of my family was hurt. Or suffered the loss of their houses. It's a bit calmer today, but it will be a long hot nervous summer, if the drought doesn't get relieved. I imagine sending them some of our Seattle rain to ease the pain. Water is such a life giving fluid. So today, Sunday, it's a good day to be grateful for family, for rain and water, and the abundance of life and home sweet home.