When? and How The Four Directions Came to Be – Part 2

The Anasazi, the buildings they left behind, the places they lived and farmed and the indelible story they left upon the earth are all part of what I sought. On an equal footing with all this is a place. Grand Canyon!

My first view of Grand Canyon brought tears to my eyes and I cry even now when I think about it. What a magnificent piece of the planet! How can there be something so perfect and beautiful that changes and becomes more so, even as we view it?

In Lawrence Kadan’s film Grand Canyon, the characters Simon (Danny Glover) and Mack (Kevin Kline) have this conversation:

Simon: Man, get yourself to the Grand Canyon.

Mack: Beautiful, huh?

Simon: It’s pretty, all right.
But that’s not the thing of it.
You can sit right on the edge of it. I did that.
I did everything. I went down in it,
I stayed overnight there.
But the thing that got me was sitting on the edge of that big old thing.
Those rocks. Man, those cliffs and rocks, they’re so old.
It took so long for that thing to get to look like that. And it ain’t done, either.
It happens right while you’re sitting there watchin’ it.
It’s happenin’ right now while we’re sitting here in this ugly town.
When you sit on the edge of that thing, you just realize what a joke we people are. What big heads we got, thinkin’ that what we do is gonna matter all that much. Thinkin’ our time here means diddly to those rocks.
It’s a split second we’ve been here, the whole lot of us.
And one of us? That’s a piece of time too small to get a name.

From “Grand Canyon” by Lawrence and Meg Kasdan © 1991

The first time I saw the Canyon, it was March and there were snow squalls moving across it constantly. I’d be at an overlook and see clouds rushing toward me. Suddenly I was in a white-out and the Canyon disappeared. I’d jump in my car and head for the next overlook. The sun dappled the Canyon walls and the snow striated the tiers of red rock sprinkled with greenery. There were rainbows everywhere. Before long another squall would take me from all that earthly beauty to a spiritual place immersed again in total whiteness.

A photo from the book, Moonrise, Grand Canyon is the direct descendant of this initial experience. I shot it digitally in infrared years later, but it’s all part of the same love I have for this corner of the world. And, as so often is the case, I didn’t shoot just one☺


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