Saturday, August 8, 2015

Chaos on the Animas

                                                                  Wallace Stegner

The weatherman warned that today and tomorrow would be the most miserable days of the summer so far. When I opened the sliding door, the wall of heat wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. Skies were overcast and then began to get darker, like impending rain.  The wind came up and like any stirring before a storm, the air was refreshing and cool. However, we missed the rain.

But for a couple of hours, it was comfy to sit outside before the heat returned. The breeze stayed all day. When was the last time an August day felt breezy? Thanks to the steady wind in the trees, I heard the first acorns of the season fall and dance in the gutters. I listened to the ping and thought of autumn sending harbingers of its arrival.

The music and announcements from the Vietnamese loudspeakers two blocks away also drifted on the breeze today.  Every year in August they gather here to pray and celebrate escaping Vietnam safely-as so many others did not. This year marks the 40 year anniversary of their coming to the United States, and 70,000 to 80,000 are expected to attend. This is amazing in a town of about 12,000 to begin with. Most of the citizens prepare for closed streets and choose new paths for a week. They also plan their groceries ahead and try to stay off the streets allowing the crowds to circulate the best they can.

The Stegner quote above seemed especially meaningful this weekend as Colorado fights a silver mine spill that puts many contaminants into the Animas River, turning it a pumpkin orange from lead, iron, and zinc among other things. The Animas is such a beautiful river, and if you have ridden the train out of Durango, then you have followed this gorgeous stream for miles. Now the river is dumping the orange dangers across the border into New Mexico. My friend in Aztec has been keeping me posted and warning others of the coming ugliness. So many people will be affected by water playgrounds and drinking water. If you haven’t looked at the damage, take a look. Stegner would shudder!

I am reading Big Rock Candy Mountain by Stegner right now…and maybe for the rest of the year as it is 563 pages long! His writing is beautiful, almost poetic in nature, and he writes with western settings since his life was lived in Iowa, Wisconsin, Utah, Montana, and Canada. He captures the beauty of the wide open spaces of the West.

I agree with Wallace Stegner that we need greenspace to go look at, to sit in, and to absorb what it can teach us about patterns and peace. In today’s world, places that take us back to nature are more important than ever. You just can’t get the benefits of the outdoors from a beautiful picture on an i-phone.


Elephant's Child said...

Stegner sounds like a man who would speak to me too.
Thank you. I will track some of his work down (when my unread tower reaches manageable levels).
How I hope we learn just how important nature is. Before it is too late.

Merlesworld said...

Yes everyone needs a green space to sit and think well I know I do.

Linda O'Connell said...

That spill is awful! I finished Jeannette Walls' book Half Broke Horses. If you haven't read it, you would enjoy it.

Sioux said...

Claudia--Read "Freeman" by Leonard Pitts, Jr. It's set right after the Civil War ends and is epic. One of the best books I've ever read.

I'm afraid all of our green space will be gone. We're paving paradise, and putting up parking lots.

Susan said...

Hi Claudia...

Sad news about the Animas River. Yikers.

Glad you got some patio time. Before we know it, fall will be here.

Thanks for all your visits. I play "Big Rock Candy Mountain" on my guitar and banjo. Susan

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

That quote is new to me, Claudia, but now one of my favorites. I quite agree!