Tugging at the tattered edges of night along the front range of the Appalachian Mountains, dawn peels back the night as the showers diminish to virga that hangs in the morning sky as though expressing darkness’ reluctance to yield to the light of day.
We follow the night…Breathing deeply the cold indigo air we relax in our pursuit with no sense of speed, but for the rapidly growing contrails in our wake, painted on the luminous pre-dawn sky.
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Flowing through the high terrain, running off of the Rockies’ steps, time exposes invisible earthen flows while rivers flow in small measure through the windswept crags of desert canyons…The passage of time is expressed in the collision of Arches’ striations with the winding flow of the Colorado River as it reverberates in meanders through the Canyonlands.
Following a twisted course, sinking into the landscape, the San Juan River recedes from its epochal peak flows and creates a topoglyph in the steps of its meander…a layered abstraction of earthen art with depth and motion.
Cruising along a tangent spectral line as the sun’s first rays kiss the troposphere, we look into our Brocken Spectre at eye-level as if caught in a purple limbo between night and day and we bear witness to the spectacle of dawn over the Three Sisters… Light shines forward; light reflects backward, upward, and downward; light bends in all directions; light illuminates and projects…Light has direction and resolve as it constantly moves forward…But darkness has no path; darkness has no direction; darkness is ambiguous and irresolute as it marks only the void hidden behind the light…While we may perceive the void of darkness, we can only see it along its rough edge as it is illuminated by the light of day.
When earth planted obstacles in her path that threatened to stop her progress toward the sea, she kept going. The sun and desert warned her that they would sap her of strength, that she was too small, and that she would evaporate in the face of their power. The mountains explained that she was too low, slow, and timid to challenge their greatness. Still, she moved on, slowly but surely defeating the brutal landscape and wearing away at the harsh edges of earth…removing or circumventing all obstacles, she stripped away the austere and threatening facade to reveal the nature of earth…peace and beauty flourish when all parts flow together in harmony…
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
And through persistence, the nature of all things will be revealed.
The San Juan River.
As we race toward dawn, time does a funny thing…it stretches and compresses almost simultaneously before seemingly folding back on itself…The clouds flow past us in slowly streaming elongated forms while the streaming lights on earth count off the seconds before our eyes. In a moment we will experience the first light of day and our circadian rhythms will command fatigue…but then we land in the shadows to experience the last moments the night all over again.
You sleep beneath an overcast morning sky that you have yet to see, the light that illuminates the thin veil of cloud still invisible to you. Shadows can be funny things, especially when they are on the scale of planets…In the shadows, what we fail to perceive is not unseen…just unknown. From our vantage point, seven miles above the earth, as we speed toward home and the event of sunrise at 8.8 miles per minute, we see it all unfold. A narrow ribbon of light emerges from the edge of earth’s shadow, trapped beneath a clearly defined cloud layer, the darkness of heaven still clear above…Earth is but another spot of reflected light in a vast dark universe…but darkness is just that…radiant light abounds, simply waiting for something or someone to step from the shadows and bask in the light celestial. In a moment, Virginia, it will be your turn. Awake and turn into the light…I’ve missed you.
As we cruise over the desert of Sonora, Mexico, we observe the undulating waves of sand slowly drift across the landscape, their rippling motion indiscernible, but for the patterns that mark their gradual movement. The desert wears a mask of stasis that disguises the dynamic nature of a landscape moving freely over the earth, unfettered by obstruction or the weight of water.
We cross the plains and wander into the high desert until we reach a great chasm that appears impassable…It is wide, long, and deep…There is no way around it, over it, or through it. It has divided the land and the land here can never be rejoined. We ponder the landscape on this side and that, marveling at the intricate textures and patterns…though the two sides are uniquely shaped by weather and time, their patterns and colors make them appear more alike than they are different…we look again at the divide and see it for what it is, a multifaceted puzzle’s edge that, while baring its soul, binds the two sides together and reminds them that they are similarly composed. If we look deeply into the divide, we may just come away with a better understanding of ourselves.