One day I went hiking on the South Rim Trail and
stepped into a miracle.
Not my footprints (fossil footprints of an ancient creature whose name I did
not record; let's call him Leon).
The miracle had nothing to do with my footprints or
Leon's. Here's how I described it in my journal:
Grand Canyon Journal
Sunday 30 January 2011
You walk and breathe and walk and breathe. You breathe without thinking.
You're doing all your thinking and feeling with your eyes. The Canyon's
beside you and what you're thinking is how to mark this place on your soul
and make it matter. Make it rearrange your bone structure and your
metabolism. Make you get up in the morning for sunrise, which is some-
thing you've almost never done.
You're thinking these things and you're aware, on and off, that it's hurt-you
bright and that the innermost of the four layers you're wearing, the sweaty
one you thought you'd have to shed, is now essential in all this wind. You're
thinking that your hands are swollen from swinging as you walk, and too
cold at the same time.
You walk and breathe and walk and breathe. On a curve in the South Rim
Trail, tearing over low scrub oak silhouetted against the bright distance,
comes a gust screaming in. You don't know it's coming. It hasn't reached you
yet. Milliseconds before it arrives you stop walking and yawn, unexpectedly.
Walking is tiring and you're on mile four, maybe five, and the wind has
wearied you. As you open your mouth and inhale--a big intake of sharp
January air--the wind hits you with a high-pitched, hollow, beautiful, fluted
And there's your miracle. You're startled out of your skin. For that portion
of that second, until your relentlessly logical, you-damn-well-wished-it-
wouldn't brain shatters the harmony, you and this place are the same thing.
You're startled because your lungs suddenly had superpowers and sucked
the air straight from the Canyon, and it came rushing to them with a
surprised yelp and it filled you to your soul's brim.
This really happens to you. It's a memory, it's not a fiction, not a metaphor.
For one split second of flawless harmony, the wind was inside you, not out.
You were this place.
These were some of the things I saw on my walk.
And I met these people, too, about 10 minutes before I yawned. They were all from Hawaii, and they were freezing.
The hike had got me thinking about scale: my lungs
sucking the air out of the Canyon. The shock of contrast
was what stayed with me. I wanted to print my shadow
shots in a way that was true to this place, that captured
the shock of scale and the immensity of erosion. And
the beauty of shadows. And I thought to myself, Hey,
self, why not print the shadow images on beach
pebbles? So much of the Canyon rock is lime and sand-
stone, products of ancient oceans...I decided when I got
home I would collect tiny white beach pebbles from the
Atlantic seaboard and print them with images of
thousand-feet-long black shadow streaks from the
Canyon. The results, together, might look lie abstract
Native American geometrics...
An idea that I haven't pursued: the shadows printed as musical
notes on a scale
This is more like it. A series of shadow-printed pebbles...