Another year past
I remember the way the canyon begins and the south rim ends. It ends in mausoleum silence punctuated by the crunch of boot on fresh powder. It ends not with a bang but with the hiss of cold air careening over the Bright Angel. A year gone by and still I remember the howl of the wind, the hollow report of the El Tovar porch under footfall, the snowstorm punctuated by thermals from the heart of the canyon and the raptors aloft in sheets of light and snow, the shadows of clouds upon the face of sandstone and limestone in the pale yellow moonlight, and the juniper perfume of the south rim.
And I still remember how it ends. Abruptly, unceremoniously into air and moonlight and the crystalline, frigid Arizona night. The somber winter sunset, the violet twilight, and the Milky Way silhouetted by juniper and ponderosa skeletons, a fragrant boneyard by turns scorched and frozen.
And I remember the way the trees perch precariously upon the edge of the world as though the very rim of this unfathomable river canyon were nothing more
than another patch of earth, as though the ground didn't disappear into a dizzying abyss beneath their stalwart grip. The vast Coconino national forest and its legion of Ponderosa marching ever forward to the sandstone precipice and nothing more to mark the spot than one or two twisted pines, boughs outstretched into the breach.
Another year gone and it has been my pleasure to share it with you all. I hope 2013 has treated you and yours as well as it has us; I hope 2014 finds you with family and friends and a glad heart. Comfortable in front of the fire as the snow gently falls upon the oaks outside my window, my thoughts turn of their own accord to these pines and to a December I spent along the Canyon a year ago. Even now they rise and fall like the seasons. Holding in their limbs the ashes from a thousand distant summer forest fires and at their roots the snowfalls from countless desert snow showers. They are the years: without beginning or end, eternal, fragile, each alike, each unique, the living and the dead.