Jay Meehan: A planet growing wise to us
“In the most sophisticated way we can summon, we must return to the awe, and even fear, in which primitive man held the mysterious world about him… ”
~ J. V. Neel
Something is definitely afoot in the redrock. As a community of geological magnitude, the mutterings of discontent between strata are getting harder and harder to ignore. All the way back to the Precambrian and up through the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic, the recognition of the most invasive species in planetary history is under discussion.
It’s as if the rock senses what we are up to. From road construction to drilling rigs and bulldozers gouging its outermost layers, it knows it is under attack. And in alliance and allegiance with the sacred sites of its most indigenous life forms, there are indeed rumblings of self-preservation and, some might say, retribution.
It matters not where we as the resistance roam about our deserts, the symptoms of rabid extraction are everywhere. And even as the rock tries desperately to get our attention, our responses appear unequal to the task. Hoodoo? You do! Do what?
Speaking of hoodoos, it becomes more and more obvious as metaphorical mornings come and go that, while we sleep, they are up to something. It’s like they refuse to wait on our collective sense of outrage to respond in kind. In the heat of day, a growing number of them have even refused to provide shade.
Across plateaus, mesas, buttes and the pockets between, sightings of the anomalous are on the increase. From Goblin Valley and the San Rafael Swell to Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon, the gorgeously eroded skin of this third rock from the sun is leaving us notes, messages in bottles, and caresses from breezes generated by the flutter of faraway butterfly wings.
On the cusp of yet another summer solstice, we search for our own Stonehenge – a spot from which we supplicants might enter pleas for planetary justice. From Natural Bridges to Bears Ears and Comb Ridge, we have peeked under rugs and subsequently implored to the holy from just about everywhere.
From the Gates of Ladore to the Confluence of the Green with the Colorado, save for skinned knees and full hearts, we come away with little but the seemingly untranslatable gospels of the cosmos. As far as the eye can see, from atop the Sky City of Acoma Pueblo to the summit of Mount Ellen of the Henry Mountains, we are left wanting.
One would have thought going in that getting stuck under the brim of the iconic Mexican Hat itself might have brought additional epiphanies to the table. Of course, getting the newly acquired camera, a 35mm film SLR, up and down in one piece weighed more heavily at the time than one’s own safety or personal insights.
You’d think this 4-and-a-half-billion-year-old planet is also hip, by now, to the fact that our president, the current majordomo of planetary rape and pillage, is “hoping” his millions of followers don’t “force” him to extend his demagoguery beyond two terms. What we got here, folks, is the poster child for “delusions of grandeur.”
The secret of how best to build a wall around him, of course, remains out there for us to discover. Many calls from the depths have grabbed us by the lapels and shook us both vigorously and continuously. We must learn to listen to their songs and feel their pain.
The one that cried out with the most tone and timbre possessed the wooden-sign designation of “Devil’s Hole,” however. Aha! Now we’re getting somewhere.
The fact that it’s a “National Wildlife Refuge” and is home to the only naturally occurring population of the endangered – so far – Devil’s Hole pupfish should provide sufficient irony to the equation. As Clemenza might whisper, “He swims with the pupfish.” Well, I suppose we all will sometime.
And finally, to continue with the epigraph to “The Only World We’ve Got,” the Paul Shepard Reader that introduced this piece some dozen paragraphs back: “… and like him (primitive man) we must strive to live in harmony with the only biosphere that we can be certain will be occupied by our descendants.”
So, strive away, you dissenters-at-large. Allow the rock access to your inner location, as it were. And remember, this dude is not a clown. Although many of his flock are unaware, an incarnation of evil is upon the land. Hoodoo? You do!
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.
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Tom Kelly reflects on ski season. “Saturday ski groups didn’t work this year. We waited longer in lift lines, often silently. More people discovered our personal secret access points. But we survived. And we skied.”