Thursday, August 16, 2007


I have an affinity for canyons. Not necessarily those of a grand scale, but the smaller, more intimate clefts so prevalent in our corner of the world. Just such a canyon exists a little south and west of Blanding, and, as a twenty-something, I often visited it to be with myself and center, find clarity, peace, serenity. Exiting the back door of the Blue Mountain Trading Post and hiking a mile or so across the fields of barking prairie dogs and half-wild cattle belonging to the Ute tribe brought me to this sanctuary.

A few hundred yards north of the dangerous "S" curves of U.S. Highway 95, this offshoot of Westwater Canyon rests just out of visual range and earshot of what little commotion and congestion southeastern Utah produces. The encapsulated island of natural reality lies just south of an Anasazi ruin which is frequented by meandering tourists during the day and illicit teenage keggers by night.

Red Tail Hawk Carving
Navajo Folk Art

I loved to go there early in the morning, to just sit and watch as the sun rose over my shoulder. I would search out a suitable seat on the canyon rim, one that embraced me with rock, wood or earth, and settle in for the awakening. Camouflaged by shadow, and content to motionlessly witness nature's offerings, I was often graced with small, intimate glimpses of wild creatures and the progressive, uninterrupted passage of time.

A small seep shaded by three small cottonwood trees ensured that wildlife were often present in the canyon, and my secluded perch upon the rim allowed a prosperous view of these animals and my surroundings. Small birds, mice, pack rats and rabbits were fairly common. An occasional coyote or fox would wander by, as would the graceful mule deer. On rare occasions, a raptor would glide out of the stunted junipers and hang effortlessly over the canyon floor, eying the tangle of oversize sagebrush and harshly cut arroyos below.

I became familiar with a pair of red-tailed hawks that lived somewhere across the canyon in the juniper forest. Every year these beautiful birds would throw off a few fledglings and teach them the ways of the world, with the skies over the benevolent canyon as their training ground. I often witnessed young red-tails drifting on the air currents, learning to fly and searching for easy sustenance. It is truly a special treat to witness such wondrous creatures at close quarters in their natural environment.

Horned Owl Wood Carving
Navajo Folk Art

On one of my outings, while walking near the edge of the canyon, I flushed a great horned owl from just below the rim. Being young, limber and foolish, I scrambled over the side of the cliff to see if a nest could be discovered. Sure enough, three small, bright-eyed and frightened young owls were hunkered down in the brambles and branches. I was drawn to a closer, more precarious vantage point in hopes of a better view.

Hanging there on the side of the cliff and seeing such glorious creatures up close and personal was truly exhilarating. That excitement level was kicked up a few notches when I was surprised by a horrendous screech and hurricane-like roar of air from heavy wings. I winced in anticipation of being plucked from the rock face by razor sharp talons. Luckily, the attack either failed or, more likely, was a mere warning. Before I became lunch meat on the rocks below, I regrouped and beat a hasty retreat; counting myself lucky to have survived the whole debacle.

Hawk Wood Carving
Navajo Folk Art

The Navajo people believe large raptors are intermediaries between the real and spirit worlds. Eagles, hawks and owls are such powerful aviators that they can achieve the overwhelming altitude necessary to reach the sky world and lay important messages at the feet of the most powerful deities dwelling there. Even the feathers of these creatures have the ability to act as transmitters in moving thoughts and prayers to their intended receivers. These creatures are also considered skilled warriors of an extremely aggressive nature when pressed into battle. Gaining the aid of raptors ensures powerful allies in righteous wars against injustice and abuse.

I gained a great deal of understanding while perched on the rim of that small canyon, and found that by embracing the natural world, eliminating outside stimulation and meditating on my life that it was easier to focus on the positive and purge the negative. This experience has helped me realize the importance of family and the responsibility we have to the children we conceive.

I feel it is necessary to do everything in my power to protect and prepare the children, to face the world in a positive, productive manner, focused on benefiting mankind as a whole. Preparation is the key, love the uplifting current, and beauty, hopefully, is the end result. It sounds simplistic, and maybe it is; but I have faith that the eagles, hawks and owls will successfully carry my message and present it well.

With warm regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.

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