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!”
The High Country is only a few hours out of town. One nice place in the 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 Rockie Mountains.
About half-way up I see a mama turkey with six babies. I did not know that turkey babies like to climb up mama turkey’s back for rides.
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...
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.
I spot a gentle deer in the meadow, and watch him as
he leaps like a springer spaniel to eat some leaves.
I follow him into tall grass,
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 hooded mean little eyes --
and his awful open serpentine mouth!
YIKES! Run away!
Suddenly formerly friendly forest is forebodding!
Every tree looks like a monster!
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.