White Stones Photo Essay
My legs weigh a thousand pounds by the time I reach the third tier of North Mountain National Trail. Each of them, solid. Full. Thick with weight, the inside of my ankles burning. I notice the white, salt-like boulders to my left and create a mental note of where they reside. I'll stop on the way back down. Right now my breath is wet, collar bones strained under the bright green straps of my Camelback.
I high-five a fellow hiker at the top; we've both been through the same struggle.
A thousand rocks surround me. I remember that even the rocks will cry out in worship. "The Valley Of The Sun" is what this place is called. Every inch of who I am resounds in this phrase. I'm breathing hard enough that my body physically lets go of pain, tears are right. there. A high enough heart rate is a cleansing.
Every rock I climb, each snapshot of these white-washed and rusted melon-colored boulders captivates me. The colors. The colors. How did everything get designed with even the color palette intricately perfect? It's all an abstract of existence. Some of my favorite artists mimic creation in colors and shapes that further my understanding of how to look at the world.
Realignment of my soul has come out here, in this desert. It's rugged and represents so much of what I've dreamt about since a young age. Old westerns with John Wayne and Clint Eastwood trained my eye to admire the Southwest. When I stop to breathe, I see how treacherous it would be to ride a horse through this terrain. And how much fun it would be to camp out underneath the stars in the cool of a desert night with a pistol for the scorpions and rattlesnakes.
In a way, it's unforgiving here. A cactus will straight up knife you in the shoe with no remorse. :) I'm happy to trade ticks and chiggers for pokey Saguaros and Prickly Pears. I'm happy to see the mountains surround the valley, but I'm sad to say goodbye to being able to see for miles and winter wheat and baby calves in the spring. It's all about trading, I suppose.
There is a small farm in the middle of the city, cleaner than any farm back east. Black cows occupy a corner lot, but I don't know where they roam, or how they're unafraid of the sounds of the city. It kind of bothers me. Maybe the city grew up around them.
I hope I don't get used to the sirens at night or the motorcycles revving up outside my window. It's nice to have a change of pace, a different life than anything I've lived, especially when I'm able to escape to boulders like this, to mountains nestled inside the city just like the cows, just like me. We are all surrounded by the city, an unnatural thing, but we are still surviving it all. And that's beautiful.