Another quiet morning in the Back of Beyond. Cloudy (huh?) and soft all around. Yesterday in the morning the dogs and I went out for a ramble (calm down, calm down, I know it’s surprising, but really, take it easy). It was a crisp and lovely morning. I saw cranes grazing in a field as I was driving to the Refuge and my heart gave a little spring. “Maybe???”
I can act blasé, but I’m not. I hoped to see and hear them on our walk and we did. Right now the wooly bears are crossing the road all over the place. I had to tell them, “Little guys, you’re way too small for anyone in a car to see, so BE CAREFUL.” They didn’t pay any attention. The dogs are VERY interested in them. Halfway on our adventure ( relative term, Sir Richard Francis Burton) I heard the cranes and soon after I saw them. I think Bear noticed them before I did because she stopped in front of me. It was great.
On our way home, my phone rang (meaning my watch) and my friend Lois and her husband were on their way back from the Grand Canyon and wondered if I could meet for lunch in Del Norte. I had just enough time to get the dogs home, clean up a little and drive to Del Norte to meet them. What a great surprise! Lois’ husband, Michael, has long wanted to see the Grand Canyon, but every time they tried to go, some misadventure befell them. Now, he can’t see due to macular degeneration, but they went, they got there and within his range of abilities — known only to Michael — he finally saw the Grand Canyon.
My friend’s photos made me want to go. Like Lois and Michael, my attempts to see the Grand Canyon have been met with frustrations. It could happen… If it does, it will probably be one of life’s superlative experiences. No, I don’t have any expectations… 😉
All this made me think of the mystery of love in our lives, and I thought again of a passage in a book by Jack Kerouac where he describes what he felt driving away from his friends — this time they happened to be William S. Burroughs and his family — somewhere in Texas. He wrote that as he drove away they became smaller and smaller until they were swallowed by the immense sky of the American West. I’ve spent all but one year of my life in that very American West and the sky IS vast. I remembered thinking — soon after I moved to Southern California — that we were all trapped there between the desert and the ocean, and all we could do was parade up and down, north and south, on one freeway or another, but the skies were still pretty big, though not really vast. In time I got a more accurate view of So Cal and that perception changed, but here? From the first, the immense and changing sky of the San Luis Valley won my heart. I paint it, I photograph it, I look at it, I live under it.
We finished lunch and said our good-byes. There was something I wanted to see in Del Norte so I went one way and they went another, to cross the valley and be swallowed by a mountain pass that would disgorge them into the vastness of the American prairie.
I drove around the very small town of Del Norte until I found what I was looking for. Del Norte’s back streets (many of its streets) are dirt roads and some of the houses and garages back there are log cabins, a few log covered with adobe. I haven’t driven around back there before, and I saw a lot of things to paint if I wanted to, but at the moment I don’t know what I’m doing as an artist.
I was looking for the city hall across from which is a park. In that park is the original station for the Barlow and Sanderson Stagecoach. Once on the main drag (my street) it was moved to make way for a Dollar General store. I imagined a time when friends passing through Del Norte would have to spend the night on their way to cross the same pass. Their journey home from here would take weeks back in the “olden” days. There would be no phone call on a Dick Tracy watch, either, alerting me of their arrival.