Monday, January 25, 2010

Gaian Wisdom in the Granite Dells of Arizona

Two new friends and I caper along the Granite Dells after days of study, discussion, decisions. The Granite Dells are orange-red, round granite rocks in sudden explosions of mounds and hills outside of the town of Prescott. After a foot of sudden snow, the clear sky and half moon beckon us upward on the scree path. Following a stream bed in a cleft of rock, we encounter the strange and unaccountable smell of wet earth, a rarity in this Arizona mountain landscape, desert a mile above ocean. We discover ferns curled and unfurling in shade spots where the many kinds of oak have scratched a tight-limbed life on red rock. I pause to gaze at auburn and white tipped rocks as the other two scamper up diagonal surfaces.

Finally, hearing we will be able to see many peaks, I clamber up and up, cross cutting on the eloquent language of macro-microscopic cell wall-seeming aged lines and curves in the umber granite. Rock the color of Rhodesian ridgebacks, of pumpkin, of salmon flesh. Rock the texture of shark teeth, sunflower seeds, barnacle bone. Rock the taste of ice fall, sound of pterodactyl, flavor of deep time. We scuttle through a creek bed, rock slot where ice and snow cover hard-won native grasses, up impossible verticals in city shoes. In the hindbrain I wonder, how will I ever get back down? At one point, one of my shoes falls off but does not roll down and I am able with a friend's help to retrieve it. I pause and honor the tenacity and welcoming footholds these rocks offer.

Up on the bluff we see in all directions the far-off snow-covered slopes, the nearby lumps and eggs perched on eggs of granite. Across the dropoff we see the feet and toes of yam and brick colored granite carving down to earth. The mountains of granite a people's procession of feet and hands: nature walking westward toward the approaching night. These rocks feel like wisdom libraries, emanating wholeness, the density, super-reality, and slowness of sages. As the living earth, they are slowly moving and travelling, earth summoned from depths through ryolitic birth to visit these millenia with the sun and snow.

May I have this same property of smooth roundness and gritty up-close-ness, good gripping and surely strolling. May we have this same surety of wisdom, numinous and lively. Like these women who have led me up to the granite crest, may we move beyond the limits of the edge of our possible to new terrains of water, fern-unfurling, and to new vistas of rock scamper, creek flow, and life. May we embody the contradictions of cactus in the snow and may our presence be as sweet and holy as the smell of wet earth in the desert, that surprising, refreshing, and life-giving. May it be so.