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Traveling, living, loving, exploring and trying to make some semblance of sense out of this crazy world.  

 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cold Light

Cold light slices across the blue morning shadows of Flagstaff; compounded of one part fog to two parts morning rush hour. Fourth Avenue is a long stretch of fading hope and faltering enterprise; peeling restaurant signs and broken sidewalks and new names on familiar buildings, the words "AVAILABLE!" AND "FOR LEASE, BUILD TO SUIT" silently shouted again and again from darkened interiors filled with broken shelves and abandoned desks.

Behind a dumpster, I see a flash a wind-whipped flame above a dented can, quickly hidden by the angry, black-dyed, stud-pierced, Goth-struck sprite who glares back at me in a world-weary apathy that is far too old for her tender years. Natives standing huddled in a group, counting change outside the Circle K; two black-clad working girls fishing for the last customers of the night or just a ride back to whatever tiny apartment they share; a Glenn Ford replica real life cowboy striding along the street in denim and leather, hat pulled low over weathered features, eyes nested in a wrinkled tapestry of wind and sun, hard work and laughter and loss. Breath streams out in a ghostly banner from beneath the battered brim of his Stetson, fading like memories.

Clouds wreathe the top of the Kachina Peaks, the snow-draped shoulders below alive with moving shadows. Lines of cliffs draw my eye up away from the light as I sit waiting, and an impatient horn reminds me that I am still operating in the present.

Flagstaff holds so much potential, and so much promise, balanced against so many promises and lives broken and wasted on the way. Every day, so many battle with such determination to reach what may be an illusion, and so many more come face to face with the cold hard facts of simple existence. those who a handful of years ago dwelt in comfort and ease find themselves operating on a budget for the first time in years, sometimes in a lifetime. Those who once succeeded by dint of hard work find the water levels slowly rising, as they stroke for what seems like a receding shore.

But on every hand, generous people reach out caring hands to lift up the fallen, to shelter, feed or simply comfort the weary, the broken, the lost. Again and again, the greatest gifts, those of compassion and shared humanity, are given, freely and in abundance, by those who are themselves often struggling to make ends meet, no more than a single paycheck or whim of fate away from the streets.

The sun rises higher, and in the rising reds and golds of dawn, I see the glittering of a thousand ice crystals, and think of beauty, even in the cold light of truth.






Sorry for the long break, Gentle Readers... I have been busy trying to make a life and look after a lovely wife, as well as submitting a manuscript for a new guidebook to the crags and byways of Smoke Hole Canyon, the amazing locale where Cindy and I lived in West Virginia.

Stay tuned for further developments... we're headed south in a few weeks, to see the old stomping grounds of the Superstition Mountains; yet another adventure of Il Viejos Fuerte, to yet another Secret Crag!

1 comment:

  1. Ronin,
    Absolutely beautiful writing! Thank you.
    Is this Flagstaff AZ?

    It is good that you are taking time to look after your lovely wife... wives and us wives-to-be deserve some looking after as do you husbands, its a fair trade, I think.

    This morning our sunrise here - the one that happened about 9:30 am was all full of pink scattered clouds in a blue sky over local snow topped mountains.

    Hugs to you. Happy Christmas and may 2012 be both of your best years ever! Denise

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