About 5 AM this morning I threw on Levis and Redwing boots and rushed into the early February cold before the hint of dawn. As I fired up the Jeep it was so frigid that I quickly retreated into the house waiting for the engine to warm up. The day before, after church, I drove into the desert to plow in four-wheel-drive through fresh snow and get a good scenic view of the aftermath of a big blizzard that had moved through on Saturday. After turning on a random dirt road, I drove about 50 miles cutting fresh tracks in the new snowfall. It felt like I traveled back in time, very nostalgic. I’ve roamed these hills enough to believe it still is like the frontier days. As I looked off into the distance I thought I saw the Wells Fargo stage-coach heading towards the mining-camp of Pioche, Nevada.
Later on I was passing a bend in a canyon and witnessed two coyotes playing in the snow on the opposite hillside. They were unaware of my approach but took off over the ridge after getting spooked. Ten miles later, I came upon a large heard of sheep in a desolate basin scouring for the grass beneath the snow. Two huge white dogs guarded the bunch like vigilant cowboys. They barked warnings at me to stay in the vehicle.
I need to write more for posterity. My Grandpa Lamoreaux suffered a serious stroke recently and he was known as a story-teller in the family. But everything was oral. With the stroke, those stories and memories are lost in time. I grew up with my grandpa telling me about the lost Spanish Gold, claim jumpers, and ghosts. I regret not recording the stories of my grandfather & his prospecting days. All I have is what I remember him telling me. It was often when we were traveling back from the Alabaster mines on the other side of Bryce Canyon that he would begin a tale.
My love for the hills was spawned and nurtured by my grandfather and his love of nature and prospecting. My own sentiment about the landscape evolved in a different way. I’m not so much a prospector or capitalist like him. More or less, I love the wilderness because it is all we have left. I want to see things go back to the old ways. If I could I’d reverse time and send everyone back to the days of their ancestors. I just love the history of the red sandstone and the deepness of the canyons. The history it still there, haunting these places and we are another chapter. Those canyon will still be there long after we are gone. When I’m in a sandstone canyon there’s nothing more archaic than the echo of a hungry ravens as it glides above the sandstone rim & or the distant thunder of a monsoon cloud-burst off in the distance, or the trickling stream winding it’s way through a rattling grove of Cottonwood. I live for the simplicity, ruggedness, and the rough terrain of Canyon Country, and getting up before sunrise. My gold mine is the beautiful places that have taken root in my heart.
I’ve lost sight on occasion of these most precious things in my life. God created these holy places to seek refuge from the bitter storms of life but I’ve allowed myself to get bogged down like everyone else who gets plugged into civilization. Our modern lifestyle destroys our connections to the Earth and the land. I haven’t forgotten my roots, and I am going back to them. I’m familiar with the canyons and high plateaus of Utah where the meadowlark still sits on the fence-line in spring, singing in as the morning dew glitters in the sun-rays. It’s almost March and I am feeling so restless with summer fever. I’m restless and was up before sunrise with the neighborhood in a slumber.
So I’ve returned from the drive – rejuvenated by snowy country roads and greeted by the sun as it rose from the East. I beat the dawn and it lengthened my day. Life is super-short, why spend it sleeping!? I’ve also been so distracted trying to locate my better half, and haven’t met a girl who loves the mountains & canyons as much as I do. Well, may I have? It’s too early to tell! It’s the end of February and winter is ready to fight. I don’t mind the Spring snow. It’s expected but unwelcome to most who live in the high desert. As a photographer, I always welcome stormy weather but I really love seeing snow slush on green grass and yellow daffodils. The first cricket started singing in my apartment yesterday. He was telling me that Spring had arrived!