Saturday, February 23, 2013

Almost Home

Morning in Albuquerque and the final leg of my Southwestern Odyssey.  I am SO ready to be home.  Hell, I'm even looking forward to one last act of National Security Theater with the TSA at the airport.

This trip has reminded  me what amazing light is to be found in northeast Arizona and northwest New Mexico.  The light here is palpable and  as real as the people, animals and landscape.  No wonder I made so many photographs during the years I lived here.

This time around I brought my Yashica medium format and shot a roll of film so I will have some images to play with in the darkroom.  I also had my little point and shoot digital for more immediate results.  Here are a few samples.

My  former neighborhood in Window Rock.  I lived in the third trailer from the right.

The old IHS hospital in Fort Defiance.

View from the Sawmill Road

Navajo Veterans Cemetery

The Window Rock

The gray northwest skies will take some getting used to after all this light.  Still, it's home now and that is where I want to be.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Night Sky to Remember

Last night I got away from the "urban" core of Window Rock and had my first view of the night sky visible in the deep darkness of the Rez.  I saw the Milky Way for the first time in a long, long time.  The Big Dipper stood straight up and down above the northern horizon.  The crescent moon, two days shy of first quarter, was high in the western sky.  Jupiter was crossing the meridian just behind the Plieades.  If I hadn't been freezing my butt off I could had stared at this glorious sight for hours.

Just standing there for those few minutes brought back so many memories of watching that immense sky during the five years I lived here.  Walking most nights with my dog most nights, I watched the eternal parade of planets across the sky and saw the stars wheeling about the pole as the months progressed.  I came away from that experience with an acute sense of my cosmic insignificance.  Surprisingly, that sense of insignificance also reminded me that I was very unique, that somehow random chance brought me into being in the midst of this vast universe.

I don't get the same sky in Olympia but I carry the understanding of my place in the universe from my days in Window Rock.  And when Olympia skies are cloudy or diminished by urban light I will think back to the cosmic glory of the Window Rock sky.  I may be far away from it these days but it is always a part of me.

Last night was a wonderful reminder of that.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Back to the Rez

I'm in Window Rock, Arizona on a two week contract with the Navajo Nation Auditor General's Office, my former employer from 1997 to 2001.  First time I've been in this part of the world in almost six years.  The past few days have been pretty busy and haven't left much time for much of anything but figuring out a new routine in a different place.

The trip in was kind of dicey--I hit snow showers not too far west of Albuquerque on I-40, which made for slow going.  The snow lasted all the way over the Continental Divide at Thoreau, NM.  I passed about four vehicles that ended up rolled over in the median.  I just hung with the truckers and took it easy.  After  Thoreau the road and weather were reasonably clear in to Gallup where I stayed the night.  I had a chance to see a few old friends and check out the monthly art crawl and have a few beers at the American Bar.

 Sunday I made it to Window Rock and have been working since.  Here are a few photos from Sunday.

Gallup Sunday Morning

The Cliffs in Window Rock

Looking Toward the Defiance Plateau

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A February Hike

21-22 February 1981.  AT south of Reeds Gap, Virginia.  Warm winter hike.  Almost hot.  Hike up to Three Ridges is steep.  Barren trees give woods a very open feel.  View of The Priest is spectacular.  Lots of philosophical discussion.  Return via Mau-Har Trail.

(from the journals)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Some Well-Chosen Words

A summer day near Fort Bragg, North Carolina:
Thursday was hot and sluggish, the sky hazed over with a scum of cloud the color of congealed bacon grease.  The air had a dense, malarial weight...
 from "The Good Ones Are Already Taken", a short story in Brief Encounters with Che Guevara by Ben Fountain