Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A guide to home

Among my many odd employments endeavoring to make a living here in our lovely little corner of the Earth, I was, for a brief while, an "in-country guide" for an expeditionary and service-learning educational program. Once a year I would work with a teacher from a private school in San Francisco organizing and leading a group of 8th graders on a week-long foray around the Four Corners, visiting and doing service work with government agencies and nearby Indian tribes.

For the school, this venture was a sort a rite-of-passage for these high-school-bound middle-school graduates. I, myself, saw it as work. But I also know that, over a period of years, this annual expedition became my own yearly rite of rekindling. Rite of what? Rite of Rekindling ... Wright.

I loved that gig, because once a year it forced me to dig for a deeper sensibility of this place I've chosen to spend my life in and upon. And in my role as "local color," I also had to examine what this place has made of me. Because I believe that where you are is who you are -- that how you interact with your chosen physical spaces and home landscape both reflects and defines how you pass through life.

Alas, after several years, the school decided to change things up, and my little run on the local-guide stage had run its course.

But, last week, I got a chance to briefly reprise my role.

The teacher I had worked with is now at a Bay Area private high school, and, yes, he was, as they say, "getting the band back together." He called in the fall to say he was coming out in April with a group of 15 students and three teachers. He was seeing to it that they were going to get their own taste of this varied landscape full of various peoples we call the Four Corners.

My role: I had a couple of hours to walk and talk to this group right after they arrived. And right before they headed out into la frontiera west of Cortez.

So what did I chose to encapsulate in my brief chance to pontificate?

I, of course, had no real plan. But I found that, as we walked from town and up the Nature Trail to Fort Lewis College, and as Durango and Smelter and Twin Buttes and the Hogsback and Perins Peak and the La Platas and the Animas Valley and Missionary Ridge and the distant San Juans slowly unfolded before us, what emerged from me were overviews, personal views, histories, and stories about ...

  • The many-varied climates and ecologies and geologies of the southern Rockies and the Colorado Plateau. 
  • Related to that, the importance of water and the water cycle here. 
  • The land ownership, and the uniquely abundant blessings of the several types of public lands. 
  • Native history and lands, and the economies and influence of Native cultures here. 
  • The intersection of histories that our region still vividly represents and lives out. 
  • The unique array of cultures here -- Native and Hispanic and missionary and miner and logger and hippie and ski bum and Realtor ® and rancher and telecommuter and ... well, on and on. 

Etc., etc. Sounds bland, I know. But I was, of course, brilliant.

Or so it seemed to me. And it seemed that way because I found myself getting so charged up -- whether that energy was actually shared or not, I cannot fully attest to -- about this stuff: about the landscape, and the people, and of the many forms of lives we have all crafted to live on this landscape.

What I didn't need to talk about, as the setting sun backlit the southwest Colorado landscape in luminescent pastels (and somewhere, a Realtor ® orgasmed ... ), was why we all work so hard to craft lives here.

Because where we are is who we are.

And I was rekindled.

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