Friday, June 16, 2017

A Bluff Bohemian Lifestyle

With a spring-like freshness, the distinctive local flora is bursting forth from the high mesas and craggy canyons in and around Bluff. Those of us who take this landscape personally have also been graced with the extra, delicate, and fragrant scents which accentuates the views and vistas we hold dear to our hearts. Unaided and unattended, these hardy, tenacious plants add a formal beauty to our little crevice of the world.

Recently I noticed the wild yellow rose bush across the road, in the yard of Melvin and Betty Gaines, come to life. I had driven down from Blanding before dawn to open the cafe and witnessed its coming-out party. Standing in the window, I noticed the orangy-red sunlight unveil itself upon the cliff face across the valley. Slowly and gracefully, a beam of golden light split the shadow along the canyon floor in front of me and lit the bramble like a burning bush. The magnificent reality lasted only a moment before the light stream broadened and pushed further into the heart of town.

It is odd what comes into your head in such instances. My mind jumped back in time to when I was dating a green-eyed monster woman from Monticello and playing it safe by giving her yellow roses on special occasions, because they signified friendship. Later, when Laurie finally consented to marry me, that dainty little golden cluster of ultra-soft petals and gentle aroma took on a much more significant and passionate attraction.

One of our Navajo friends informed me that the wild yellow rose represents the strength and magnificence of the Sun, but also speaks of an opposing, softer, gentler side to this most powerful of Navajo deities.

The yucca is also blooming on the mesa above town. The stiletto-like leaves guard and protect the stacked blossoms of these intermittently spaced sentinels, which spread across the sandy hillocks and sun-baked desert.

Recently I spoke with Priscilla, our longtime friend and associate here at Twin Rocks, about the yucca plants. As we talked, she began to share more about their uses and meaning. She said her mother was quite knowledgeable about native plants and that she often gathered the yucca fruit just before the plant bloomed and grilled the delicacy on the hot coals of a nearly spent fire.

A mischievous look came into Priscilla’s eyes when she told me the root of the yucca was often dug, cleaned, and pounded to produce a shampoo which is used to ceremonially cleanse a patient and his or her possessions. This brings about a blessing from the supernaturals, allowing more spiritual and material blessings to the newly scrubbed individual.

Priscilla insinuated that if Steve and I would invest in the aid of a medicine man, we might significantly improve our economic and personal affairs. By using the shampoo on our graying locks and our trading post inventory, we might look and feel younger and expand our net worth. “At least” said Priscilla, with a broad smile, “things would smell a whole lot better around here.”

One of the most common questions Steve and I field is “Aren’t you guys afraid those rocks are going to fall?” This inquiry is second only to, “What do you guys do here; what lifestyle do you lead?” Well . . . we sit around all day discussing the wondrous landscape; rub shoulders with world-class artists and unique individuals attempting to expand our knowledge and understanding and debating philosophy; and we live, laugh, love, and experience life in a canyon. If I had to describe it in a nutshell, I would have to say that we are living a rather remarkable Bluff Bohemian lifestyle.

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