Wandering Thoughts

August 2, 2008


Filed under: Going Places,Ramblings and Musings — terence @ 6:05 pm
Tags: , ,

If I’ve spent a colder night before or since I can’t remember it. We were camped near the rim of the Grand Canyon under the perfect desert sky. The Milky Way hung above us, smudged white like the steam of breath. The stars glistened like ice on a frozen windscreen. And a deep inescapable cold crept up out of the ground. Neither of us had thermarests; we had figured that body heat and a pile of bedding would keep us warm, but the duvets flattened under our weight and the cold leaked in. Denise, at least, had polyprops. I had an assortment of backpacker’s hand-me-down clothes which even when worn all at once couldn’t keep out the chill.

It wasn’t a great night but the next morning the sun shone through the same cloudless sky, trying once again to defrost the land and we were, both of us, somewhere new and beautiful. Excitement in my experience is as good a substitute for sleep as anything else that exists.

Keen to spend at least some of the morning quiet away from the Canyon’s crowds, we drove in the other direction, parking the car at the beginning of a service road and walking amongst the pine trees. A little way in we found a Fire Service observation tower, which when climbed lifted us above the tree tops. Up there, carried by the clearness of the light, the view bent into a distance as indistinct as my memories now are. Pine trees swayed over gentle hills that drifted to a horizon somewhere, and everything was covered in snow – other than our happy puffing the only sound was the trickle and patter as it melted.

Blue, green, white – there was no grand canyon, nothing remarkable at all other than the perfect sky, the unending trees and the silencing softness of snow, but the memory was born fully formed.

I don’t know for certain why this memory returns more than most from my time in the States, or why it makes me happy, but I think the answer lies in the certainty of those colours and the promise of that view, stretched away, clear and not quite finished, into the newness of Arizona.

Ok, and seeing as I mentioned the car, I just have to tell you this. A friend once told me that the highest point on Long Island (where Denise was from) was the top of the Deer Park tip. I dunno, that sounds a little too good to be true, but the place was flat. So flat that Denise learned to drive without ever learning what a hand-brake was. Just leave the car in park and that would be enough to stop it rolling. Heck, leave it in neutral and it still wouldn’t go anywhere. So as we drove around Arizona, she thought I was crazy for pulling on that emergency brake thing whenever we stopped. Once, we swapped from driver to passenger and she drove the car, hand-break still on, until smoke was coming out from under the bonnet. Now I’m not telling you this to convince you of her silliness – she wasn’t silly, and I managed to pull out of one rest area and drive off happily down the left hand side of the road – I’m just trying to emphasise that, compared to the fault and volcano lifted, plate-boundary-island I call home, Long. Island. Was. Flat.


1 Comment »

  1. twertwertw

    Comment by wertwretw — August 8, 2008 @ 9:11 pm

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