Mindfulness and the First Celebrity Chef

May 28th, 2017 · No Comments

St. Lawrence by Jane St. Clair

Since two men called St. Lawrence are both Roman Catholic saints of cooking, it is confusing for us.

Now’s the time to clear up our confusion!

St. Lawrence holding his grill

Brother Lawrence with pots and pans

St. Lawrence of Rome should be the saint of grilling,as opposed to cooking. The Romans murdered this poor man by tying him to a grill and burning him to death in 225 A.D. He said as his killers were roasting him, “I’m done on this side. You better turn me over now.” It is no wonder that St. Lawrence of Rome is the saint of comedy as well as cooking.

The second St. Lawrence is very much in style now for two reasons. He is our first celebrity cook, and he invented his own version of mindfulness.

Brother Lawrence of Paris was born into a poor French family in 1614. Like our own Abraham Lincoln, he wanted to go to school and learn to read, but his family could not afford it. He joined the army and received a war injury that left him crippled for life. Brother Lawrence was a big heavy man, and now a bum foot made him even more clumsy and awkward. He took a valet job, waiting on tables and opening doors for rich people.

One day when Brother Lawrence was around 25 years old, he was looking at a tree sprouting in spring and felt a strong calling to join a monastery. He hoped the monks would let him work in their library, where he’d read and study and become an educated man. Instead, his abbot took one look at our clumsy humble Lawrence and assigned him to permanent kitchen duty.

I picture Brother Lawrence in the kitchen, as awkward as Peter Boyle’s monster in “Young Frankenstein,” tripping over boxes, spilling hot water, and breaking dishes. He was the kind of guy that other monks would tease.

Although Brother Lawrence felt disappointed to get kitchen duty, he made the best of it. “I shall have to find God among the pots and pans,” he said, vowing to keep his mind on love and God at all times.
Like anyone who tries mindfulness, Brother Lawrence had a hard time concentrating. His mind kept jumping around in what Buddha called “monkey mind.” Ten years passed before Brother Lawrence reached his mindfulness goal, which was to experience God in every moment of the day –in what he called “Practicing the Presence of God.”


I picture the big guy chopping carrots and seeing cathedral stars in them. I bet he was full of wonder at the inside of an orange pepper, the beauty of a purple eggplant or the splendor of an orange pumpkin with beautiful yellow ribs. I bet he’d see the mushrooms dancing.

As sensitive and sweet as Brother Lawrence was, I bet he felt bad about taking the life of any vegetable. No doubt he’d apologize to a cabbage before he cut into it. I bet he heard the sound of the universe in the squeak of corn husks when he shucked them, and I bet that every time he cooked a meal, he prayed that the food would reflect his love for the other brothers, and God’s love for us all.

Modern people try to find work they love. Brother Lawrence tried to put love into grunge work that he got stuck with. As the Arabic poet Kahlil Gibran wrote and as Brother Lawrence discovered, the motivation behind your work is all that matters.

“It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.”

Before Brother Lawrence died, his friends insisted that he tell them how he achieved mindfulness. They recorded their conversations into a tiny book that is a practical how-to manual for anyone who wants to try a mindfulness path to spirituality.

The funny thing is that Brother Lawrence’s little book became a classic. That means God gave him the very gift he always wanted – to be an educated, wise man.

Guess what! You can download Brother Lawrence’s book for free at the Gutenberg Organization

Negative Capability Press accepted Jane’s short story, “The Gerber Secret,” for an upcoming issue of their magazine.

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Yellow Crayon Lights Sonoran Desert Spring

April 28th, 2017 · No Comments

Yellow by Jane St. Clair

In the spring of the year the Sonoran Desert goes from light green to yellow.

Everywhere you look you see yellow.

April picks up her color crayons and throws them all away except for one, and then she colors it all yellow.

Palo verde trees hang heavy with yellow, yellow falls all over their feet, yellow creates a carpet beneath them, as if it had snowed yellow snow. The yellow of the palo verdes against the bright blue Arizona sky is electric … so electric that you feel as if yellow fire alarms are going off in your head.

In the spring of year in the Sonoran Desert if you walk in the mountains, if you walk in the gray and black shadow mountains, suddenly you’ll see fields of wildflowers, and pop! They are all yellow.


All day long everywhere you look, yellow … the yellow sun lights up yellow wildflowers and gentle yellow wax flowers on the saguaros smiling and welcoming golden bumblebees …

No one can explain yellow to someone who cannot see it. The dictionary says yellow is the color of ripe lemons, but what does that mean? Is the color of your ripe lemons the same color as mine? Just thinking about yellow, that is.

Mark Rothko, the American artist, made gigantic paintings of yellow. Once he painted a huge picture of a yellow square on top of an orange square… so everyone could see the difference between the color yellow and the color orange. Rothko’s idea is simple but yet it is profound in its own way.

In the Sonoran Desert the sky paints its own Rothko painting … the sky makes its own comparison of orange and red and yellow…

Then at night a yellow moon comes out in yellow clouds ..

Coldplay knew these things when they sang … “Look at the stars… Look how they shine for you and everything you do ..Yeah, they are all yellow ..”

..

…Spring 2017 was a fantastic year for wildflowers in the west, and the BBC posted a picture of all that yellow from 65 miles up in space! Go here

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A Beautiful and Benign Science … Kitt Peak

March 31st, 2017 · No Comments

Kitt Peak by Jane St. Clair

A traveler who had been all over the world so as to see holy places like Bethlehem and Mecca .. this traveler once said that Kitt Peak was the most spiritual place he’d ever visited.

The beautiful mile-high mountain has a great serenity, grace and peace about it, as if it were a natural cathedral. The Tohono O’odham nation, upon whose land Kitt Peak sits, recognize it as the holy place that it is –for it is where their elder brother deity resides. Their creator deity lives on Baboquivari Peak, the sacred center of their cosmology. You can see Baboquivari from Kitt Peak’s fabulous summit.

Kitt Peak has the earth’s largest collection of telescopes so you’re seeing this strange mix of high-tech meets mountain wilderness. As you drive up the mountain, the telescopes first look like a field of little R2D2s.

But they are much bigger than Star Wars droids. The Mayall telescope has an 18-foot dome, and it’s so huge that you can see it from 50 miles away.The equipment is crisp and white against the big blue Arizona skies, and it holds all the promise of a sea voyage on a crisp blue day in a white clipper ship.

.
The various telescopes have different jobs. Some are solar telescopes that make the sun look like a gigantic red fireball with fire flares darting around its edges. But oh! the pictures the night telescopes can make! Pictures of impossibly beautiful colors and amazing shapes! Pictures of billions and billions of stars in billions of galaxies, billions of light-years away!



You can go inside some of Kitt Peak’s gigantic telescopes and watch them operate in perfect mechanical symmetry.They move in a high art form, the kind Stanley Kubrick captured perfectly in his movie 2001 when he made intricate technology dance in perfect synchronization to soaring orchestral music.

Plato said, “Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.” I think that is what makes it a beautiful and benign science. It reminds us that our small planet is part of something beyond ordinary comprehension. It is a science where there are no national identities, no boundaries .. just purity and universality. It is the place where science touches the spiritual.

Vincent Van Gogh understood that intersection because he said once … I have … a terrible need… shall I say the word? … of religion. Then I go out at night and paint the stars.

A Starry Night (courtesy of Vincent-Van-Gogh-Gallery.org)

To plant your visit to Kitt Peak, check out National Optical Astronomy Observatory website

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Strange Stillness of a Teacher/Forest … Saguaro National Monument

February 28th, 2017 · No Comments

by Jane St. Clair

I like to go out to the Saguaro National Monument because it is a lonely place. Because it changes in different lights and in different seasons so that it never is the same. Because it is a forest unlike any other forest. Because there is nothing else like it.

The Saguaro National Monument is called a forest but it is nothing like your idea of one, a forest with a green canopy of leaves over your head and soft mulch under your feet. Green forest is much noisier than the Monument –your walking makes noise, you hear birds singing and the rustle of animals moving about – furry big-eyed animals with faces like humans. The smell of green forest is lush and green, especially after a rain, when you smell the sensuality of wet earth.

No, the Monument forest is nothing like that. It is more open. It is more still. It is more wilderness. It is just as much about the spaces between the cactus trees as the trees themselves. The spaces enable you to see the shape of each cactus –its arms, its vertical ways. The spaces make this forest quiet.

The Saguaro National Monument is also about the light that makes the saguaros change color. In sunset the whole forest turns red. In twilight the cacti can look golden. In winter when it snows, the saguaros turn gray.

I love the way saguaros just stand in stoic silence, even in broiling desert sun. You can learn from their silence. As Eckhart Tolle writes in his book, Stillness Speaks, “We have forgotten what rocks, plants, and animals know. We have forgotten how to be. We have forgotten how to be still, to be ourselves, to be where life is: here and now.”

“Stillness is the only thing in this world that has no form,” Tolle writes, “but then, it is not really a thing, and it is not of this world.”

The saguaro already knows these things and can teach you them.

We go into wilderness silence to find ourselves, and instead we find something greater than ourselves when silence speaks. We realize only that we are part of something bigger than our individual selves.

John Steinbeck described the still wilderness experience something like this … One time he went out in the wilderness to find his own soul, and he found he just has a little piece of a great big soul. A wilderness is not any good because a little piece of a soul is not any good unless it is whole, unless it is with the rest of the great big soul …


For more information about how to visit the Saguaro National Monument, see Tucson national park information.

Jane St. Clair’s coming-of-age story, “Touched By Copenhagen,” is published in the annual 2017 edition of poemmemoirstory.

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Martin Buber Could Change Your Life

January 29th, 2017 · No Comments

Buber by Jane St. Clair

The other day I came across a machine that gives out ice cream.

Hi there, Mr. Tall Redwood tree!

I was surprised to see a sign on it that said,”Like Us on Facebook,”

as if you could be friends with an ice cream machine on Facebook.

Then I thought about Martin Buber’s beautiful book, “I and Thou.” Usually I only think about this book when I am in nature, but someone it fit the ice cream machine situation as well.

Buber’s work isn’t easy to read, especially if you try to “think” it rather than “feel” it. His book is like scripture that way — very poetic, very intense, and only difficult if you don’t open your heart to it. You feel and do Buber rather than read him intellectually.

Buber has several really revolutionary ideas that seem more relevant today than when he wrote them a half-century ago.

His big idea is that we either experience or encounter. Most of the time we are in our ego-mode, and we simply have experiences.

Hi Quail!

We experience everything as an “it,” the way an ice cream machine is. We depersonalize everything and name it all “it” or that which is other than me. We slice and dice things. We make them useful. We give them purpose. The “I-It” way of viewing the world is not bad because it helps us survive. Yet the “I-It” experience is what makes us feel alienated and crazy all the time. We never feel part of our own world. We’re always walking around alone and detached, and figuring out how to use the people and things we come across.

Hi, Beautiful Rock Formations!

On the other hand, when we encounter another being as a “you” or “thou,” we feel something akin to love.

Hi Mama Bobcat!

We feel that our own spirit is the same as the “thou” of the person in front of us. We sense a cosmic force that is always with us, the force that Buber calls love. We can have I-Thou encounters not only with other human beings, but also with animals, flowers, rocks, the sky … whatever. Every I-Thou encounter connects us to something other than ourselves. Every I-Thou encounter opens our hearts to the ultimate encounter with the “Thou” of the universe, the God of Love.

The friend who first gave me Buber’s book had battled polio, which left him with a withered leg. He felt that those people who stared at his withered leg turned him into an “it,” rather than a “thou.” He wanted people to see him as a thou, as a person, and not as the guy with the peg leg.

Hi-Thou Ice Cream Friend!

My friend taught me that when we perceive someone as different or put the person into some category, we lose the I-Thou encounter that is so important, even vital, to our souls.

So going back to the ice cream machine … Maybe this machine makes people happy on a hot Arizona day. They look forward to seeing him, they appreciate the cold wonderful treats he gives to them. They think of him as a thou, even as their friend. I think Mr. Buber would like them back.

If you’re interested in Martin Buber’s book, read more at I and Thou on goodreads.

Hi Squirrel!
Hi Cat!
Hi Martin!
Hi Bunny!

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Just Wild About the Tucson Jaguar

December 29th, 2016 · No Comments

Tucson Jaguar by Jane St. Clair

El Jefe came up out of Mexico to the Santa Rita Mountains to live just north of the city of Tucson, Arizona. He walked across the border — El Jefe’s not one for fences.

The Tucson Jaguar made the 130-mile journey by himself, but then, he is a jaguar and jaguars like to be alone. This animal is now the only known living wild jaguar in the United States.

El Jefe (“The Boss” in English) is afraid of nothing for he is on the top of the food chain and prey to no one. There is no animal his jaws can’t take down. He stalks and ambushes his prey with a bite-force that is the most powerful in the New World. The Tucson Jaguar can bite through the armor of an armadillo, and we now know that he kills black bear.

We also know that El Jefe has been living in Tucson for at least five years because hunters, hikers, and ranchers have taken hundred of pictures of him. Some have seen his enormous paw print. It looks like that of a mountain lion with four toes without claws, but his heel pad is much bigger. Tucson jaguard-paw-print-from-az-fish-wildlife

When biologists from the University of Arizona and other agencies tried to capture El Jefe on film with temperature-sensitive cameras, he eluded them. Finally in February 2016, the Center for Biological Diversity took the very first video of this magnificent cat. He is walking near water, which is typical of jaguars who like to live near rivers and in the rain forests of South America.

El Jefe lives a solitary life. He moves around in his beautiful muscular stealth way in the hours of early dawn and dusk. His spots are called rosettes of all things, and he is the only big cat that can roar. He roars to warn his competition to stay away from his territory.

Tucson Jaguar El Jefe

Once American jaguars roamed from Colorado to Texas, as far north as the Grand Canyon and all the way west to Southern California. Now all we have left is El Jefe, the Tucson Jaguar.

I watch his beautiful glowing eyes and his muscular tawny body, and something about him is bright and burning. The Aztecs, who had elite Jaguar Knights, believed something similar about the jaguar too. They believed the jaguar gave fire to humankind, and that seems right to me. El Jefe has a light about him, he has a splendor wonder … or in William Blake’s words, a fearful symmetry.

Imacon Color Scanner
Drawing by William Blake

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

For the latest updates on efforts to conserve jaguar habitats in Arizona, see jaguar conservation on the Arizona Fish and Game Department’s website.

jaguar-aztec-warrior-foundation-for-mesoamerican-studiesjaguar-aztec-warrior-foundation-for-mesoamerican-studiesjaguar-aztec-warrior-foundation-for-mesoamerican-studies

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Arizona Thanksgiving for Things We Love

November 22nd, 2016 · No Comments

Arizona Thanksgiving by Jane St. Clair

Like people everywhere, we who celebrate Arizona Thanksgiving have much to be thankful for, such as the election is over. Thanksgiving here is unique in that you can eat your dinner outside on a picnic table, just like a Pilgrim. This made me think about other neat things to be grateful for about Arizona like the months of October through April, and that the last two surviving jaguars in the United States live in our state.

I’m also grateful for the beautiful way the Anglo, Mexican and Native American cultures come together here.

I’m grateful for amazing sunsets every single afternoon, and the beauty of a zillion stars against unpolluted black night skies. I’m grateful for the vastness, silence, grandeur and solitude of the Sonoran Desert.

So as the song goes –when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad– I simply remember my favorite things about Arizona. Other times I just think about them for no reason.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Arizona Thanksgiving panaromic-view-of-grand-canyon

The Grand Canyon
Cowboys
Kartchner Caverns
32 million acres of public land
Reid Park Zoo
Free Solar Energy
Sedona
Starry Nights
Kitt Peak
Route 66
Ostrich farms
Hopi Culture
The Desert Museum

Pusch Ridge
Mama Quails and their babies
Copper Queen Hotel
360 Days of Sunshine
The Saguaro National Monument
Tarantula spiders

Arizona Sunset by Jane St Clair

Sunsets
Monsoon Storms
Tombstone and OK Corral
Yaqui Easter Festivals
Organ Pipe National Monument
The Thing in the Desert
Arizona cures some allergies
Old Tucson
Canyon de Chelly
Road trips
Hot Air Balloon Rides
Cowboy Songs and Poems
Swamp Coolers
Saguaros
Petrified Forest
Cars Don’t Rust
The Mystery Castle

Arizona Thanksgiving Sedona Mountains with Clouds by Jane St Clair

Mountain Vistas
Ghost Towns
Ramsey Canyon
Pioneer history
Sky Islands in Cochise County
Day of the Dead Parades
Big Horn Sheep
Civil War Reenactments
Fort Apache
Jerome, AZ
Desert Snow
Rio Salada Walks
Biosphere 2
Flagstaff, AZ
Spring wildflowers
Pinetop, AZ in summer

Arizona Thanksgiving Tucson Rodeo by Jane St Clair

Rodeos
Professional Phoenix Sports teams
Lizards
Desert Washes
The Heard Museum
Campgrounds
Tohono Chul Park
Fishing in mountain streams
San Xavier Mission
Christmases that look like Bethlehem
Degrazia
Arizona sometimes helps Arthritis
Real Working Ranches
Walnut Canyon
Mexican Restaurants Everywhere
Cinco de Mayo
Coyotes
Desert Eccentrics
Cold Swims in Summer
Jackalopes
Southwestern Art
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Mountain and Desert Soulitude.

Arizona thanksgiving-day-by-jane-st-clair

Jane St. Clair’s essay “Nowhere Near” appears in the 2016 Fall issue of Ruminate magazine.

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In Appreciation of Clouds

October 27th, 2016 · No Comments

Clouds by Jane St. Clair

I love to lie on the ground and look at clouds. It’s not for everyone –there are people who don’t like clouds. How do I know this? Because I’ve seen them look at a bright clear sky and say, “Hooray! Not a cloud in sight!” which is hard for me to understand because some of my best days on this planet have been spent watching clouds. But as Jane Austen wrote, “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.”

clouds-with-church-by-jane-st-clair

Because I’ve spent many lazy days looking skyward, I never agreed with Wordsworth’s “I wandered lonely as a cloud.” Clouds don’t look lonely to me at all. They look as if they are having a great party up there, just dancing along in elaborate formations with all the precision of a medieval cotillion.

I love all kinds of clouds … the slant ones… the big puffy ones … the ones who walk the straight and narrow. Some are little tufts in the sky like playful wafts of smoke from the pipe of an old man amusing his grandchildren, while others form lines so straight and horizontal that they look as if they’ve been drawn from an architect’s red pencil.

puff-clouds-by-jane-st-clair

I like all the familiar forms a cloud can make and the ones you can imagine that they are– like seahorse and face-in-the-moon clouds … the Puff the Magic Dragon clouds and the ones shaped like ducks and giant caterpillars.

I like the way clouds can take all day to build up to a thunderstorm. I like the way they hide in the crevices of mountains, softening the look of harsh grey rocks, and then emerge like smoke from great smoldering fires within their captors’ deepest cauldrons …only to later light up the sky with a rainbow.

Clouds and rain in Mountains by Jane St. Clair

I particularly love the thunderheads you see out West. If you climb up high enough and look down from hundreds of feet so that you can see for miles and miles, you’ll see rain coming from a thunderhead that causes not even a sprinkle just a foot away.

Thunderhead Cloud in landscape by Jane St. Clairlandscape-in-arizona

But I do think that even non-cloud people agree that clouds are everything when it comes to fabulous Arizona sunsets. You need those clouds to create those fabulous colors and form those beautiful horizontal patterns like gigantic Navajo rugs in the sky. Otherwise your sunset is just plain vanilla.

Yellow Clouds in Arizona Sunset by Jane St. Clair

And even non-cloud people know that Western landscapes would be dull without them.

Microsoft Clouds over Desert by Jane St. Clair

Philosopher John Lubbock wrote, “Happiness is a thing to be practiced, like a violin. Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water and watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” Just saying.

Native American thunderbirdNative American thunderbirdNative American thunderbirdNative American thunderbirdNative American thunderbirdNative American thunderbird
Jane St. Clair’s essay “Nowhere Near” appears in the 2016 Fall issue of Ruminate magazine.

The Cloud Appreciation Society has the wonderful mission of uniting cloud appreciators everywhere.

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The Owls Next Door by Jane St. Clair

September 29th, 2016 · No Comments

Owls Next Door…. by Jane St. Clair

One morning –very early–for it was dawn and dark outside– I saw two strange birds outside my window. I could see only their silhouettes which were enormous as birds go. At first I thought they were hawks, but their heads were too big, and their bodies too square and chunky. Then I thought they were vultures, but they did not have hunched shoulders. They were roosting high up in the tree next door, but not near a nest.

two-great-horned-owls-next-door-jane-st-clair

As the dark light changed into yellow sunrise, I could make them out better. Not only did they have enormous bodies, they also had enormous heads with tufted ears and big round yellow eyes. They stared back at me in this patriarchal way, as if I were a court clown annoying a pair of kings.

I had never seen owls this big before. When we lived along the Ohio River, we often saw a family of owls but they were funny little creatures — a gray mama with her five white babies that lined up in a row and turned their heads back and forth as they said “who who who.” They had a sweet energy about them and reminded me of that nursery song, “‘Sing,’ said the mama, ‘Sing if you can,’ and they sang and they sang all over the dam.”

But the owls next door are different.

great_horned_owl_with-big-yellow-eyes-3

They stare back at me as if they wish I’d fly away. They stare with those eyes — oh! those yellow eyes! and those big straight eyebrows that tilt up, as if they’re making strategies for Wall Street. And they have these enormous muscular legs –with fierce claws mean enough to carry off a cat or a small dog!

The owls next door are there every morning, staring back at me. Some days I see not two but four of them! Between them they have enough fierce energy to take on Patton’s Army! They have a name: Great Horned Desert Owls. They are predatory creatures of the night, and they are at their deadliest when the sun goes down. Once I was able to watch one of them zero on a little rodent with those terrible swift eyes and then –with all the pressure, purpose and precision of a high-tech drone– he angled down and grabbed that rat.

great-horned-owl-flying-1

The Native American tribes here near Tucson respect the owl kingdom very much –in fact, some even say owls are harbingers of death. In some legends owls are a channel between this world and the world to come.

owl-kachina-doll-northern-arizona-university-museum-1Albert Einstein wrote, “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that we can comprehend the universe.” I think he meant we can understand physics in terms of numbers and formulas and pi’s written in white chalk marks on never-ending blackboards. But what is just amazing to me is that we can understand and relate to strange creatures like Great Horned Owls in the way all living things understand one another, even though our lives are quite different.

Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that the most incomprehensible thing?

Einstein for Jane St ClairEinstein for Jane St ClairEinstein for Jane St ClairEinstein for Jane St ClairEinstein for Jane St ClairEinstein for Jane St ClairEinstein for Jane St Clair

Check out more nature essays about animals of the Arizona Sonoran Desert at Hail Coyote Nation and The St. Croix Cougar Belongs to the West. Jane’s nature essay “Nowhere Near” appears in the 2016 Fall issue of Ruminate magazine. Literative posted Jane’s award-winning story “Roadkill” on their website.

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Ramsey Canyon: A Walk In the High Country

August 31st, 2016 · No Comments

by Jane St. Clair

The Nature Conservancy’s beautiful Ramsey Canyon is where Tucson people go to escape the heat …

People ask us here in Tucson,

Sonoran Desert by Jane St. Clair

“How do you stand the 110 degree summer heat? “

desert 2

We desert rats think to ourselves,”What wimps for asking!” …
… yet our polite answer is, “We go up to the High Country!”

Arizona High Country near Ramsey Canyon by Jane St. Clair

Arizona High Country is only a few hours out of town. One nice place in High
Country is Ramsey Canyon, world-known for gorgeous hummingbirds

Hummingbird in Ramsey Canyon by Jane St. Clair

And dorky looking frogs.

Frog in Ramsey Canyon by Jane St. Clair

The Ramsey Canyon trail is steep and uphill, but worth it for the view. The
country is a mix of desert and mountain pine, because it is where the
Sonoran desert meets the Rocky Mountains.

Ramsey Canyon Trail by Jane St. Clair

About half-way up I see a mama turkey with six babies. I did not know
that turkey babies climb up Mama Turkey’s back for rides.

Ramsey Canyon Wild Turkey by Jane St Clair
I make friends with a squirrel. He jumps around in Shakespearian iambic
pentameter …

Under the Greenwood tree …
who loves to lie with me …
Here shall we see no enemy
but winter and rough weather …

Da Dum da dum da dum da dum…
Friendly Ramsey Canyon Squirrel by Jane St. Clair

I forget that the Canyon has bears and puma and I take the colors of
the many greens and the sweet way the trail winds.
I watch a spider happily at work.
And I spot a gentle deer in the meadow, and watch him as
Deer in Ramsey Canyon 1 by Jane St. Clair

he leaps like a springer spaniel to eat some leaves.
Deer Springing in Ramsey Canyon by Jane St. Clair
I follow him into tall grass,
Deer in High Grass, Ramsey Canyon by Jane St. Clair

all the time all spaced out watching him, all rapturous like St John of the Cross
wrote,

I was so caught up and rapt away,
In such oblivion immersed,
That every sense and feeling lay
Of sense and feeling dispossessed;

I do not notice a coiled-up rattler at my feet —
his hissy sound like water rustling —
his mean little hooded eyes —
and his awful open serpentine mouth!
YIKES! Run away!

Scared Squirrel in Ramsey Canyon by Jane St. Clair
Suddenly formerly friendly forest is forebodding!

Forebodding Ramsey Canyon by Jane St. Clair
Every tree looks like a monster!

Monster tree Ramsey Canyon by Jane St. Clair

Friend-squirrel stops to eat; he knows my mind is playing forest tricks
on me. He also knows I stepped on the snake first.

Squirrel end in Ramsey Canyon by Jane St. Clair

Did St John ever get so spaced out that a rattler snapped at him? I think
about that as I wander up to the top of the mountain and watch
civilization below. I take it in, no longer thinking, just feeling the
transcendental experiences St John knew so well:

Ramsey Canyon Overlook by Jane St. Clair

I entered – where – I did not know,
Yet when I found that I was there,
Though where I was I did not know,
Profound and subtle things I learned;
Nor can I say what I discerned,
For I remained uncomprehending,
All knowledge transcending.

It is time to leave, but in the new stillness of my heart,
I know that I will come back to High Country sometime soon.

Ramsey Canyon Leaf by Jane St. Clair

Jane St. Clair’s very short story,“Roadkill,” won Literative’s July 2016 Contest.

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