Just as I stand speechless when privileged to view the natural treasures of this nation, I am beyond words when told that protection of our environment is less important than other economic interests addressed in the federal budget. How can that be? What amount of money, what project, what pressures, what argument for or against climate change, is of greater value than being awestruck by the wonders that have dazzled for centuries? Have we lost our sensibilities for that which is not man-made? Do we feel no responsibility for walking lightly on this earth, protecting humans and animals and plants from the carelessness we seem willing to tolerate from industry? We are fearful of so much these days; why are we not fearful of compromises to our air and water? We want governmental protection of our borders; why do we not demand government protection of our land?
The incredible nature photographer Ansel Adams (1902-1984) said it for me: “It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” Horrifying, and completely unimaginable.
The amphitheater at Bryce Canyon National Park will take your breath away. The hoodoos, created from layers of soft and hard rock eroded by millenniums of freeze and thaw cycles, have been sculpted into fantasy shapes worthy of any story telling. The following Paiute Indian Legend is posted at the rim of the canyon:
Before there were any Indians, the Legend People, To-when-an-ung-wa, lived in that place. There were many of them. They were of many kinds – birds, animals, lizards, and such things – but they looked like people…For some reason, the Legend People in that place were bad. Because they were bad, Coyote turned them all into rocks. You can see them in that place now, all turned into rocks; some standing in rows, some sitting down, some holding on to others. You can see their faces, with paint on them just as they were before they became rocks…
You can imagine anything here. You can see people, castles, armies lined up in formations, choirs of angels, and creatures that may crumble to sand with the next rain. It is possible to walk down into the canyon (the walk back up is considerably more challenging…) and the canyon edges that simply disappear in front of you will help remind you of the fragility of this astonishing landscape. It’s all a wonder.