Skip to main content

Getting Sucked-In to a Canyon's Music

 What is the fastest way to the canyon floor?  The rocks are so sharp on top that the poor little dog needs to get to the round gravel quickly!  How could a place be so un-earthly and so hostile to life?

There was a narrow and eroded ridge close to my campsite that got us down to the canyon floor quickly.  One step off the centerline of the ridge and we would have fallen to a serious injury.  And normally the cellphone signal disappears in the bottom.

Worse yet, there were eroded cavities a foot or two off the ridgeline.  It was impossible to tell how collapsible they were.  It was horrifying to think of these holes as a sentient Malevolence that swallowed and destroyed my little dog. 

Ahh but she was so happy on the canyon floor when I unsnapped her.  Free to blast around!  And yet confined by the near verticality of the canyon walls.  There were no coyotes or biological life of any kind to hurt her.

We walked "downstream."  There is always something metaphorical and satisfying about walking arroyos.  That was especially true here because we were descending to the nearby "Great Southwestern Father of Waters," the Colorado River.  It makes the passage of another year come to mind. 

Flowing downward to the Colorado River was redolent of descending chords played by a cello.  I thought of Patrick Doyle's death scene music from "Carlito's Way."  The music stayed with me for the rest of the walk.

Al Pacino, in Carlito's Way.  (From

In contrast my little dog was busy playing the music of her own "allegro."  She was always looking for not-so-vertical walls to scramble up.  Is she even aware how nervous her antics make me?

The walls of the canyon are eroding on a human time scale. 

Every year I come back here, noticing the erosion of the canyon, and thinking about my own erosion and mortality.  Every year I see this cave and imagine a mountain lion coming out to the entrance, snarling, and attacking my little dog:

I won't take the chances now that I did with my first two dogs, years ago.  I guess you become more mindful of "hurt" as you get older.  Look how the little scamp crawls under canyon walls that could collapse and bring down tons of mudstone on top of her:

Mudstone must be stone indeed if it can break off in such cubic chunks.

Everything here is sharp, spiked, prickly, and hurtful to soft little bundles of fur and flesh:

I let myself get swept up in the visual metaphors and the music.  Soft, weak flesh rebels against its own limitations.  It can fight for life by soaring to Patrick Doyle's music.