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,
“How do you stand the 110 degree summer heat? “
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 is only a few hours out of town. One nice place in High
Country is Ramsey Canyon, world-known for gorgeous hummingbirds
And dorky looking frogs.
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.
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.
Under the Greenwood tree …
who loves to lie with me …
Here shall we see no enemy
but winter and rough weather …
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
all the time all spaced out watching him, all rapturous like St John of the Cross
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!
Friend-squirrel stops to eat; he knows my mind is playing forest tricks
on me. He also knows I stepped on the snake first.
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:
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.
Jane St. Clair’s very short story,“Roadkill,” won Literative’s July 2016 Contest.