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Creek Running North

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June 09, 2003


A few years ago, camping by myself on the long, anonymous plains between the Painted Desert and Winslow AZ, I watched the sky.

It was night, after a long day of driving in a month of long days of driving, and I was tired and a little lonely. I was reading a book I'd started in Oklahoma the day before. I was disappointed that the rattlesnake museum in Albuquerque had been closed that morning.

I was caught between the desire to prolong the trip and to head home. To head south to Tucson, or back into New Mexico to visit Ellen in Luna, or down to Organ Pipe, or Big Bend, or who knows where — or to speed across the Mojave and San Joaquin and home.

I chose the latter the next morning. But that night, I honed my indecision into a fine ache, watching the pale yellow lights of Winslow low on the horizon.

A raven flew past, alighted on a sagebrush, croaked merrily — and then flew on, wobbling low over the plain. And the feeling rose so fast it caught in my throat.

Envy. I wanted to be that raven, wholly of that place and yet still above it, able to wrest a living from the lizards and bird eggs and garbage dumps, then glide off to the trees of the Mogollon Rim as the whim struck. The emotion surprised me: it was so vehement. I stood for half an hour trying the get my wind back.

It's mainly crows here — not so many ravens — but the raucous caw and wedge-shaped tail, once encountered, can still bring that catch to my throat.

Posted by Chris Clarke at June 9, 2003 10:19 PM TrackBack URL for this entry:

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decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs


Yeah, Beth's right. It's a good and moving tale. Most people don't feel comfortable putting themselves into the raw open landscape like that - things happen. Things you don't expect.

It's very different but you might like my Greylag in flight description.

Posted by: Coup de Vent at July 20, 2003 11:30 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs