Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Abbey Walk

In honor of Allan honoring Ed, I headed out for a walk this morning. It's warming up, but it's no desert out there and that's fine with me. The walking can still be dangerous though; even the sidewalks which were cleared can now be covered with ice from the overnight refreezing of the previous day's melted snow. So I walked in the street and threw beer cans at the passing vehicles.

I did a short version of Hike #2, figuring I'd enjoy the view despite my morning after headache. Just as I entered the woods, a free range canine charged at me, making a racket I didn't need to hear. Up ahead, ineffectual sounds tried to call the beast back, soon followed by a man with more canines. "He gets jittery sometimes," sez he through his teeth. "Well, that's why they have the leash law," sez I. No reply from the mangy cur. Damned welfare ranchers running their critters on our public land.

I took the high road atop the canyon, having fun looking at the events of the days since last snowfall: mouse with tail, snowshoe human, cone petals beneath a squirrel's lunch spot, shredded tree beneath a woodpecker's.

Reaching the end of the trail, I descended quickly to the creek. Very quickly, putting my lead boot sideways and hoping for the best as I slid down the snow and ice covered curving stairway which more closely resembled a slide. Similar slides led to and from a series of bridges crossing the creek, but these had freezing metal railings to pull myself up with and to help control the downhill skis.

High numbers of crows celebrated up high. The gurgle and occasional glimpse of moving water beneath the ice. A frozen waterfall off a side wall. A large amount of erosion had happened in the past few days, the fallen rocks and soil atop the snow at the base of the cliff or the trail left behind as they rolled farther out to the creek. I witnessed three small collapses as I passed back and forth, the tiny sound echoing off the walls.

The trail led to another steep and shiny ice stairway. I tried to circle up around it but couldn't pull myself up over the final ledge. I fantasized about being trapped there til spring and it seemed a good place to live, but I returned to the site of my initial descent and tossed my pack ahead of me as I used my gloved hand to complete a scrambling tripod as I climbed.

Back on the street, an attractive young jogger gave me an enthusiastic smile and hello. I stroked my bushy Abbey beard and impregnated her on the spot.

The Machine may seem omnipotent, but it is not. Human bodies and human wit, active here, there, everywhere, united in purpose, independent in action, can still face that machine and stop it and take it apart and reassemble it--if we wish--on lines entirely new. There is, after all, a better way to live. The poets and the prophets have been trying to tell us about it for three thousand years. -- Edward Abbey, Shadows from the Big Woods


Allan Stellar said...

I feel honored! And the writing is very Abbeyesque: Throwing beer cans at cars; Lecherous thoughts while pulling on your Abbey beard; Showshoe humans! Made me laugh out loud. Thanks!

greentangle said...

I tried to get into the spirit of the thing; see on yours that you did as well.

Allan Stellar said...

yes I did. Tried to get into Abbey's notion of freedom. I picked up a book by Turner from the library (A year in the Tetons). I like it thus far. Butte County doesn't have the Abstract Wild, so I will have to search further for that...

greentangle said...

Ah, I never read that one. He's also got one about the Yellowstone area which is ok, but nowhere close to Abstract Wild.

Sally said...

Nice job, Green. I agree with Allan. You guys have inspired me--along with original artwork from Ch. 16 of The Journey Home, next to my desk as I type. A treasure.

I'll have to look for Big Woods; hadn't heard of it. (Off in other realms for a decade or two.)

greentangle said...

Hi Sally, thanks for visiting and your various comments.

Coincidentally, Big Woods is actually chapter 21 from The Journey Home.