(unearthed: written August 2013)
This week I visited the Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks Monument and passed late morning exploring a slot canyon. Soaring walls of whites, browns and oranges towered overhead. All whitewashed in the strong sunshine, they curved with the memory of rushing waters. Phallic rock cones, sinuous crevasses; just the place to bring a newborn and nurse in shaded pockets, letting the milk be the meditation.
The little ones and us big ones, too, were grounded by the presence of an immense Ponderosa Pine at the mouth of the canyon. It’s green needles arched high above against the perfect blue of the sky. The roots were large and exposed, forming a cave for the kids who climbed, dug and spoke incantations for their hour spent in it’s magical presence.
I traded spots with another parent and sat, observing the kids. Soft sand in the shade of the wall cushioned me and I watched the line of shade retreat as the sun rose over our temporary camp. What if I took photos to remember the shapes and colors and painted something later? I am immersed in what caught O’Keefe and so many others in this enchanted land.
Whilst I sat, a Western Swallowtail Butterfly entered the canyon, passed the magic tree and sailed on, up. I watched it’s flight until it merged with the branches of the next pine tree.
I love watching the play: shadows of butterflies follow their corporal selves about and try to catch up. I hear myself calling out, “A butterfly!” when in the company of others. When I don’t hear a response or see people’s eyes lifting, I might worry myself over what else they may be missing. For me, it is a habit of joyful distraction, reinforced by time spent amongst children: the ones graced with this easy awareness.
For me, when I heard it years ago, I promptly took it to heart: Take time to stop and smell the roses.
I nearly always do and often I giggle at myself just after for an act that seems almost clichéd- in these days of iphone attuned faces and air conditioned existences- but if it’s solid advice, I will comply. I am, after all, just making this all up as I go along.