Category Archives: Places

The world is a big place. Let’s see all of it.

Desert Ghosts

The air was dry–bone-dust drifting on a desert draft. A storm was coming, you just couldn’t see it yet.

I could hear an engine–distant but closing. The angry sound broke a stillness the desert was reluctant to give up.

Desert dirt road.
Arizona highway? Just a dirt road in the desert.

A Border Patrol agent looked like he was cruising main on Saturday night, one hand on the wheel and one arm out the window–low and slow, The mud caked SUV stopped rolling and a red dust cloud wafted across the sun.

“What you boys doin’ out here?”

Grit ground in my teeth and I spat. “Taking pictures.” I held up my camera.

“Nice night for it,” he said. The sun was setting, but it wasn’t night yet. “Best be careful.”

The way he said it, I wondered if I should call my attorney. I nodded, not agreeing, just nodding.

Marana sunset.
Arizona sunset near Marana, Arizona.

“Ghosts,” he said, shaking his head like I knew what he was talking about, “don’t leave no tracks.”  He looked  down at the dirt and I couldn’t see his eyes. “They like to cross the border after dark.”

He continued to study the sandy ground for a long moment. Then he looked up. Our eyes met.

“Watch yourselves,”  he said.

A coyote howled in the distance.

“Ghosts,” he said again. He tipped his hat and the SUV lurched forward. Tire tracks appeared where tires used to be and a new dust cloud buried their trail.

As the SUV disappeared into the desert, the sun touched a mountain and set the sky on fire.  Quiet fell on falling dust.

Arizona Sunset.
Sunset near Marana, Arizona.

My friend came out of the brush with his camera and tripod.

“What was that about?”

I thought I knew, but I wasn’t sure. I could hear movement in the brush. Footsteps, maybe.

“Ghosts.”  I Pressed the cable release on my camera. The mirror popped up and the shutter opened. The sound was louder than I remembered.  “They like to cross the border after dark.”

Lightning flashed on the horizon. The sound of a distant jet called from above. The coyote howled again.

Moon rise.
A crescent moon rises after sunset over the Arizona desert.

We stayed there taking pictures until long after the light was gone.

 

Stopping by Woods…

I lived in New England for two years. My first winter was spent in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, my second winter in Maine. Both winters were brutal. I was cold all the time. Nor’easters or down’easters were common. I survived the blizzard of ’78. One storm was so bad we couldn’t open our apartment door because the snow drifts were too high. We had to climb out the window and dig out the snow so we could open the door. Another time, we lost power for days because the ice storms had stripped the power lines and trees. The damage was horrific. But the world was sparklingly beautiful. It was during this time that I fell in love with the poetry of Robert Frost. His words evoke imagery and meaning with powerful poetic device which transcends place.

DSC05228_29_30_Mountain FenceI no longer live in the east. Yet the seemingly simple home spun lessons of the New England poet stay with me. The words resonate in my western surroundings in spite of their New England sensibilities. Frost’s poetic imagery transcends time and place. The inspiration I found in the New England woods is also to be found in the Wasatch Mountains.

STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING

by Robert Frost (an extract)

DSC05253_4_5_Snowy WoodsWhose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow…

…The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

MENDING WALL
by Robert Frost (an extract)

DSC05207_Snow Fence…He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours”…

Aruba–Bodies in the Sand

Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya…
Beach Boys

Palm Beach Aruba Couple from James Dalrymple on Vimeo.

I enjoy the four seasons, I really do, especially Vivaldi’s. When it comes to the weather, I like it warm. Hot. Rarely is it ever too hot. I live in Utah. This week, Thanksgiving week, it is supposed to snow. Don’t get me wrong, I like snow. I even like to shovel snow. I just don’t like the cold that comes with the snow. I would enjoy the four seasons more in Aruba, where the average high temperature in November is 86ºƒ and the low temperature is 71ºƒ. Gentle breezes blow all year round and the temperature never varies by more than a few degrees.

I’ve been to Aruba.
I want to go back.

As our family gathers for the holidays, I give thanks for the warmth of home, family, food and abundant blessings. However, as the snow begins to fly, I will turn my electric blanket up and dream of warm Caribbean waters, tropical breezes and the white sands of Aruba. And, I will return, at least in my blog.

Fall in the Wasatch Mountains

I turned off the engine and got out of my car. The first thing I noticed was the quiet. My footsteps crunched. The sound shattered the quiet so I stopped moving.

Not even a breath of air disturbed the stillness.

Late fall colors.
Late fall colors behind Mt. Timpanogos.

I strained to hear something, anything. A distant bird cry, found my ears. A hawk floated on invisible air currents above a mountain meadow. It had seen me first. Its screech brought relief. I had not lost my hearing, rather, I had lost the noise of cities and people when I drove beyond the paved road. It would take some time for my brain to adjust to the back country silence.

Heavy footsteps echoed against the mountains, coming closer. A father and son lumbered past, walking a nearby trail with rifles and backpacks. Deer hunters. They were not quiet. The deer would hear them coming.

Aspen Grove.
The leaves are mostly gone from this aspen grove behind Mt. Timpanogos, although fall colors remain.

I turned from my overlook and hiked into the Aspens. The stillness of open land evaporated amidst the stand of trees. It was not that it wasn’t quiet. It was more that the trees were aware of my passing and were whispering among themselves. I could hear them, but I could not understand the words. I was not unwelcome, but I was watched.

Fall had come to the high mountains. The calendar did not yet speak of winter, but the nearly barren branches spoke of cold nights and shortened days. Fall colors still glowed beneath the trees, holding on to their end-of-life color. There must be an inherent knowledge in nature that life will come again in order to celebrate death with such brilliance.

Mountain stream, American Fork Canyon.
Time slows down near a mountain stream in American Fork Canyon.

In the distance I could hear the soughing of water. In a few minutes I found the stream. It wasn’t a big stream but it had been raining and the gentle babble was swelling to a rush. A persistent drizzle suggested more rain was coming. Perhaps the stream had river aspirations.

American Fork Canyon.
Rays of light penetrate the clouds just before sunset in American Fork Canyon behind Mount Timpanogos.

I would not stay long in these mountains, this day. My journey was meant only as a reminder of peace and place and permanence in Mother Nature’s cycles.

I would touch the earth to quiet my soul and take with me a portion of stillness.

Transcendence, Capitol Reef in HDR

There are moments in life which transcend expectation, which transcend time. And there are places in life which transcend those moments. Transcendent experience is something to hope for, even, to seek after. Yet, the fleeting nature of transcendence reveals an existential quality of mortality.

Grand Valley
The road through Grand Valley, Capitol Reef.

Transcendence can not be achieved, it can only be experienced. And, the experience of transcendence  comes when least expected.

It may be that transcendence is only possible when the imposition of expectation has been removed. Perhaps, in those moments, there is a void which only grace can fill. As grace reveals divinity, divinity reveals truth. Truth transcends the moment and our understanding of existence, who we are, where we come from, what our purpose is, becomes clear, or, if not clear, at least implied. In transcendent moments, inspired questions transform the heart. The sacred nature of transcendent transformation ennobles the soul.

Chimney Rock.
Chimney Rock from a distance, Capitol Reef.

Capitol Reef is such a place–a place of transcendent transformation; transcendent because it exceeds expectation; transformative because it is slowly, yet contagiously transforming.

I have , purposely, waxed philosophic. Indeed, the loftiness of the ideas expressed can not compare to the actual grandeur of visiting Capitol Reef, however briefly I was there. In geologic terms, any time that I could spend there, however long that might be, would be brief. Nevertheless,the time I spent in the park was transcendent.

It is impossible to capture the essence of the place, nevertheless, the  majesty of the rocks cried out for something beyond the ordinary. So, forgive, if you will, my HDR sensibilities. While the images presented may lean toward hyper-reality, the actual experience of moments in Capitol Reef transcends the ordinary and claims the extraordinary.

Besides that, it was a lot of fun 🙂

Deep Time, Capitol Reef

It takes a while for things to change.
Patience and faith, they say.
I can’t wait. I won’t, I say.
You must.

Grand Wash Stars.
Stars above Grand Wash Capitol Reef.

Deep time puts the age of Earth at four-and-one-half billion years.

Hickman Bridge
Named after Joseph Hickman, Hickman natural bridge is 133 feet long and 125 feet high.

I sense immense distance in Earth’s span, yet the years mean nothing in comprehending the patterns of death and life and death again which deposit layers of yesterdays upon tomorrows, until all that remains is this moment.

I stand in a place where the evidence of change surrounds me, yet actual change can not be seen.

Perhaps these rocks crumble to dirt,
waiting,
for a million, maybe a billion years, for me to walk this path.

Red dirt sticks to my shoes and I carry it with me in defiance of the law of long waits.

Capitol Valley.
The Freemont river cuts a valley just below Capitol Dome.

I am here. Now.

The wind soughs and the rocks speak in whispers. I stand still and listen. The words do not bring me comfort. Change is as the rocks.

Capitol Dome
Capitol Dome, Capitol Reef National Park.

I look up at the sandstone sentinels and the sky stretches out before me.

I am small, insignificant, tenuous.

I look down and a silver stream glints below towering canyon walls. My heart skips a beat and I step back from the ledge. I have climbed much higher than I realize.

Davy on the rocks.
Davy scales the cliffs near Hickman Bridge bowl.

My breath catches as my son scales the cliffs below me. The rocks he climbs are hard broken. I call out not to walk those rocks, they may crumble. He has not yet reached the precipice on which I stand and must choose his path. I squint in harsh sunlight and see myself in his approaching shadow.

I feel old.

I see in him that I am old,
old in that my body is not what it once was;
not so old, in that the elements which make up my frame have not yet been scattered by hot winds relentlessly carving through stone.

My son will climb much higher than I have steps remaining. Yet, I still have steps remaining.

And the Gods said, “Let it be so.” And they watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed. For even the Gods must watch and wait.

Big Dipper above Wind Gate Capitol Reef.
The Big Dipper rises above Grand Wash Wind Gate in Capitol Reef.

In the vast continuum of eternity, patience and faith take time.

So I am learning.

Towering sentinels of Capitol Reef.
Towering sentinels of Capitol Reef.

Wistfully, I lift a handful of dust and toss it to the sky. The wind accepts my offering.

My time has come. I have touched the rock of ages and must not linger.

In deep time,
the changes I hope for are carving the canyons of my soul.

Grand Valley
Capitol Reef National Park.

 

Woman in White, Istanbul

Cedar City Art Walk Image 9.

Woman in White, Istanbul
In coverings of her faith, an old woman waits for answers to her unuttered prayers.

Dressed in white,
in the attitude of prayer,
she rested on a bench in the courtyard of a mosque.

Some great need, a solemn request, or perhaps, a simple expression of gratitude lengthened her stay in the morning shadows.

Eyes closed, head bowed, her lips moved. I could not hear the words, yet, I watched, to see if God might come to her in this place.

She felt my presence and looked up. Her eyes spoke volumes.

Surely, God would grant her request.

 

For more info on my show check out a June 11th article in The Spectrum.

http://www.thespectrum.com/story/entertainment/2015/06/09/suu-features-exhibition-stories-tell/28764023/

ArtWalkFlyer

 

Village Matriarch, Yamoransah, Ghana

Cedar City Art Walk Image 7.

Village Matriarch
Though she is old, she leads–perhaps because she is old.

Three hours from Accra and the roads got really rough. We had been driving into the bush and each mile seemed to take a millennium. The more we drove, the farther back in time we went. As we drove into the village of Yamoransah, young girls stared at us as they mashed roots for food. Young children surrounded us, posing for our cameras. The village Matriarch watched our approach, proudly. She did not speak English. There was no need. This was her village.

As we approached, she slowly rose and the children quieted. She did not need her walking stick for authority. Her voice was soft and quiet, yet the young mothers gathered their children and went inside.

Somewhere, in the delicate balance of past and present, she kept her village safe. The old ways still worked, although her eyes were growing dim.

Teenagers charged their cell phones at a generator near the village well.

 

For more info on my show check out a June 11th article in The Spectrum.

http://www.thespectrum.com/story/entertainment/2015/06/09/suu-features-exhibition-stories-tell/28764023/

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Muslim in Rome

Cedar City Art Walk Image 6.

Muslim in Rome
It can be painful when a pilgrimage is not all it was supposed to be.

Tired, alone and far from home, the Eternal City, can be an unforgiving place. Religious tradition may favor the Catholics in Rome, yet Islam entertains apocryphal hope for ultimate victory in the struggle for religious domination. Global politics and religious ideology lose their import when you are sick and hungry. With no place left to go, a bridge over the Tiber River is as good a place as any to end a pilgrimage.

For more info on my show check out a June 11th article in The Spectrum.

http://www.thespectrum.com/story/entertainment/2015/06/09/suu-features-exhibition-stories-tell/28764023/

Cedar City Artwalk.
Summer art students visit the Cedar City Artwalk.

Summer art students stop by to visit my show. You can too 🙂

Cedar City Artwalk
Art students read the stories about the photos.

The Stories may be as good as the photos–maybe better 🙂 ArtWalkFlyer

Storm over Paradise, Samoa

IMG_0900_Samoa_web
A calm before the storm settles over the bay on Upolu, Samoa.

The air was heavy, oppressive. Dark clouds rose above a steel horizon. The humid air made it hard to breathe. I took a shower that morning, but never dried off, still dripping. The clear ocean called to me, but a storm was coming. I could feel it in the quiet slowness. No one was in the water. Most of the locals were resting on mats in their fales. A Samoan home, or fale, is mostly built with bamboo and thatch, allowing maximum airflow. The air was not moving.

 

IMG_5144_5_6_clouds
Storm clouds bloom over Upolu Island, Samoa.

I watched them come, the dark clouds. The weight of wet-hot weather pushing, pushing down on my chest, holding me in place as I watched them grow, the clouds. I wanted to lie down and not move, sleep until the dark dream dispersed.

 

When the rains came, it was sudden, as if the ocean moved onshore. The sky was water. The air was liquid. The drops were waves, crashing to earth. The sound rose and swelled, drowning all other sounds.

 

Then, quiet.

 

IMG_0454_Waving Boy
Talofa lava–a young boy waves in greeting.

The rains ceased. Clouds moved on, a pleasant breeze chasing them. The sun emerged from hiding. Children were the first to awaken, laughing and playing in streams winding back to sea. Steam rose above fluorescent flora. The world sparkled with brilliant color.

 

IMG_5985_Waterfall
Rain and mountains make for spectacular waterfalls in Samoa.

I witnessed a transformation of the island, Samoa, sea, sky, land. What I didn’t see, couldn’t see then, was the change Samoa wrought in my heart, not until I left that place.

 

I have not been back, yet, I long to return, to reconcile the man I am with man I hope to be, in paradise.