Great white mounds sliced through with red veins of lightening that billow out of the earth like they would be soft clouds, but are mostly sandstone. Deep umber colored towers rise in lumpy segments toward a sky they will never touch, while a river rushes at their feet carving its way through willow and sage. Creamy shades of white, burnt oranges, reds that dive into a bilious purple, all piled on top of each other, all looking like they’ve been painted, all carved by wind, and water, all stunningly lovely, all in southern Utah.
This is a Disneyland for nature lovers. It’s almost goofy. These huge pillars of bloated rock striped in shades rich and wonderful, rounded feet of cliffs overflow onto the floor of canyons yielding themselves to become fine orange and pink dust. Inevitably there is a river of some sort snaking through their maze-like canyon floors; generous layers of willow, sage, rabbit brush, and tiny yucca bank these rivers. We are wandering through a play land that is both benignly wonderful and still a desert. Rattlesnakes, long needled cactus, dry heat and the always-present possibility of flash floods during this monsoon season dance on the periphery while we happily run down trails and splash through rivers.
Tonight is our 6th night in canyon country, we are currently perched above Calf Creek, in the Grand Staircase and its music is mingling with the crickets and my typing fingers and my husband snacking on granola.
And then the baby woke up and it’s days or so later… We are in Zion. The penultimate natural Disneylandia. Tour buses run up and down the valley from 6am until 9pm leaving every 5 minutes. The turn over in the 300-site campground is dizzying. Today I heard several different languages batted around the tour bus.
We came here 4 years ago when Wayland was moving from Colorado back to California and we spent 4 days tromping around the Narrows, and Climbing Angels Landing and getting off those over populated paths to explore quiet canyons. We were still in that cloyingly sweet phase of love, where everything the person does is fascinating and forms a new doorway to their soul, or something. We were madly in love. We barely knew each other. And it was awesome.
Now we are married.
Now we have a toddler.
Now we know one another real well.
Now we are prone to snapping at one another, to being short, and our patient kindness is used up by our tender toddler. But, walking the paths I once walked with my boyfriend, (now my husband) sparked the tenderness, the absolute trust I had in him and us. It has been good medicine to tromp through the Narrows once again, watching him carry our son on his back and see him once again in the light of fresh love.
It has scrubbed away some of the hardness, the built up assumptions of who a person is, and what they are going to do. Scrubbing away those expectations, pulling away from what I think I know of him and being willing to let go of my whole construct that I’ve boxed him in. Freeing. I got to see the man I wanted to marry and build a life with. And he got to be seen in that light, received and loved for who he actually is, not my narrow box.
We need more pilgrimages like this. Or I do. I need to be diligent in finding ways to shed the stories I write and forgetting the plot, I get to dive deep into living.
But, really, it’s just all about huge cream colored sandstone striped in deep orange that invite us all to want to climb, play, find the next ridge and keep going.