Monday, April 22, 2019

Chapter 4: Throb and Quiver and Glow

There could be no better way to conclude a short series of blogs on the Grand Canyon than to share the magic of sunrise and sunset.  According to my colleague John Muir:
'The dawn, as in all the pure, dry desert country is ineffably beautiful; and when the first level of sunbeams sting the domes and spire, with what a burst of power the big, wild days begin!  The dead and the living, rocks and hears alike, awake and sing the new-old song of creation. All the massy headlands and salient angles of the walls, and the multitudinous temples and palaces, seem to catch the light at once and cast thick black shadows athwart hollow and gorge, bringing out details as well as the main massive features of the architecture; while all the rocks, as if wild with life, throb and quiver and glow in the glorious sunburst, rejoicing. Every rock temple then becomes a temple of music; every spire and pinnacle an angel of light and song, shouting color hallelujahs.'

'As the day draws to a close, shadows, wondrous, black and thick, like those of the morning fill up the wall hollows, while the glowing rocks, their rough angles burned off, seem soft and hot to the heart as they stand submerged in purple haze, which now fills the canyon like a sea.  Still deeper, richer, more divine grow the great walls and temples, until in the supreme flaming glory of sunset the whole canyon is transfigured, as if all the life and light of centuries of sunshine stored up and condensed in the rocks now being poured forth as from one glorious fountain, flooding both earth and sky.' 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Chapter 3: Like Wisps of Long Hair

My first photo of the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is of course a single, immense geological entity.  But its appearance, character and spirit are ever-changing with location, time of day and - especially - weather conditions.  The Canyon is so large that it has its own micro-climates, influenced by but seemingly independent of those of its immediate surroundings. Aided by these meteorological forces of nature the Grand Canyon becomes a great geological chameleon possessing magical powers of transformation; a quick-change artist unfailingly resplendent in any of its adaptive guises.

Of course my fellow Wisconsinite, John Muir, said it best:
'Half a dozen or more showers may oftentimes be seen falling at once, while far the greater part of the sky is in sunshine, and not a raindrop comes nigh one. These thundershowers from as many separate clouds, looking like wisps of long hair, may vary greatly in effects. The pale, faint streaks are showers that fail to reach the ground, being evaporated on the way down through the dry, thirsty air, like streams in deserts.  Many on the other hand, which in the distance seem insignificant, are really heavy rain, however local; these are the grey wisps well zigzagged with lightning.  The darker ones are torrent rain, which on broad, steep slopes of favorable conformation give rise to so-called "cloudbursts"; and wonderful is the commotion they cause.' 
Next time in 'The Grand Canyon of the Colorado"- Chapter 4: Throb and Quiver and Glow

One of the most intense rainbows I've ever seen, and a more
understated companion.

Its going to rain

Storm over Desert View Watch Tower, South Rim

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Chapter 2: The Proudest Temples and Palaces

This is Chapter 2 of a collaborative effort including photos from my visit to the Grand Canyon annotated by passages excerpted from naturalist John Muir's "The Grand Canyon of the Colorado". (5 photos) You can view 'Chapter 1: The Living, Rejoicing Colors' here.

If the Grand Canyon were an invariant entity its size alone would make it difficult to appreciate in full. But the Canyon is anything but constant.  It is continuously being reshaped by myriad cycles of deconstruction, construction and reconstruction, giving rise over eons to new promontories referred to as amphitheaters, temples, palaces and buildings.  Not surprisingly, Muir says it best:
"Thus the canyon grows wider and deeper. So also do the side canyons and amphitheaters, while secondary gorges and circues gradually isolate masses of promontories, forming new buildings, all of which are being weathered and pulled and shaken down while being built, showing destruction and creation as one. We see the proudest temples and palaces in the stateliest attitudes, wearing their sheets of detritus as royal robes, shedding off showers of red and yellow stones like trees in autumn shedding their leaves, going to dust like beautiful days to night, proclaiming as with tongues of angels the natural beauty of death."                          - John Muir

Next up: Chapter 3: "Like wisps of long hair"