Ruminations From the Western Slope

Ruminations From the Western Slope
Colorado River near Moab, Utah

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Red Sky at Morning

Most mornings I drive my daughter to school. On cold ones, like today’s, I go outside a few minutes early to warm up the car and let a dose of frigid air clear out my nostrils. It’s a bracing way to start one’s morning, for sure, but today was a bit more special than most. From a visual standpoint, the short drive to the high school encompasses two distinct layers. First there is the ground-level tier, the one with the houses, signals and streets. The one filled with noise, traffic, exhaust steam, and a few icy spots here and there on the asphalt. Sometimes I have the radio on and catch a few minutes of NPR. Sometimes I pass small groups of male teens sneaking one last smoke before class. All around me is the electric energy of a city waking up.

Then there is the second tier…the one that is “above the fray”. Beyond the horizon of roof tops and telephone poles, there is the natural landscape of the Grand Valley. I’m sure that it often goes unnoticed to most folks who are hurrying off to their day jobs. But it was hard not to notice it this morning. To the west, a nearly full moon still hung high above the city. To the east, a fiery dawn was erupting under a nascent cloud cover and over the shadowy flanks of the Grand Mesa. And to the south, the snow-streaked cliffs of the Uncompahgre Plateau were catching the first rays of sunlight on the brick red sandstone.

In a few minutes I was caught up in the hub bub of the high school campus, kids coming and going, cars weaving through parking lots, bass notes booming through the air, and my daughter grabbing her lunch box, purse and pack and hurrying off over concrete and brick before I myself am navigating through it all and back out to the main road.

I headed north toward the grey, intransigent Bookcliffs. I was thinking about cold weather, coffee and Thanksgiving. I was looking ahead at the cusp of autumn and winter. The horizon was taking on an even deeper glow. And the city was rushing forward into this new day, as two different worlds were merging at the horizon line.