I have been doing some intentional wandering since I got to the park. A lot of it actually. Usually when I wander, it is with a PLAN. This park has few trails and only a handful of suggested routes they offer people who seem capable of handling them. This is fantastic for the wandering spirit. I am allowed to wander almost anywhere I want to and I am taking advantage of that.
If you've missed my recent posts, I'm the November artist-in-residence at Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona, USA. You can see my last posts about this wonderful place here:
I am a peripatetic soul. I find solace in walking. I have not always been a good wanderer. I like to have a plan and a few safety backups in my pocket. This particular place has taught me a lot about letting that go. I am capable of taking care of myself and would be fine if I got lost (though I won't). From most places in the park, I can see a point of reference and I am good with direction and compass use, so I have allowed myself free reign to wander among the hoodoos and petrified wood, climbing mesas at will (except the ones we're not supposed to climb!!!).
Yesterday was a rough day. If you saw my Instagram post, you know I've been struggling quite a bit since the election. Today was better. In fact, today might have been one of the best days I've had in years. I was invited along on a bird survey with the park biologist and he took us to an area of the park that not many people get to visit. We saw the sunrise from the vicinity of Blue Mesa and then headed out into the eastern expansion lands. It consists of vast expanses of grasslands interspersed with marvelous geologic formations, petroglyphs, hilarious hoodoos, and some petrified wood.
We had to drive through many arroyos and there was a huge rain on the day of my arrival 12 days ago. Things have not yet dried out... which means there was some excellent four-wheeling and I do love a good adventure that involves rough roads as long as I'm in an excellent truck (these are the moments I miss my old Toyota truck--that thing would go anywhere I had the guts to take it). This was the closest we came to getting stuck. A little shovel work and 4WD-low and it was no problem. Of course Andy knows his way around a truck and some mud.
We did ten points for the survey, 10 minutes per point plus walking. It took several hours. There is something magical about standing in the bosque listening for birds, binoculars in hand. Walking meditation at its best.
Andy and another self-described bird nerd Rob, taught me a lot about birds today. I'm going to get some 10 x 42s for myself for Christmas and break out that bird book. Andy is the park biologist and he answered my unending questions about the wildlife in the park. This is a bobcat print and he helped me distinguish them from coyote.
I was fascinated by the mud. I got a LOT of it on my boots and pants, but the patterns were so varied depending on the type of dirt, location in an arroyo, and how much it had dried.
Below is my tapestry sketch for yesterday, Day #11. It was inspired by these cracks. It was truly a sketch--woven quickly and only intended as an experimental ground for future exploration. (Harrisville yarns and silk from Redfish for the black; 8 epi on an 8-dent Hokett loom.)
The drive home through the eastern expansion lands (recent park acquisition) was fantastic. I don't even have words for how much fun it was. Geology, biology, paleontology, archaeology, human interaction with present day ranchers...
Yesterday, on the other hand, was hard for me. I was really struggling with the state of our nation and with my own place in all of it. I got up early and went hiking in the Jasper Forest. This area of the park has the highest concentration of petrified wood and I wanted to have a long wander off-trail among the wood and mesas. Which is exactly what I did.
Here are some of the photos I took. Imagine your own wander among these beautiful stones and mesas.
And here are the other two new diary pieces. Day #9 was about the colors of the desert. It was woven with some Harrisville Shetland I painted myself and some silk.
And Day #10 was a response to some articles I read about the incoming administration's stance on LGBTQ issues, seen here in an Instagram post where I said I couldn't find center again. I was trying to let this beautiful place crack open my heart and was resisting it... trying to figure out how to move forward without being consumed with anger. Fortunately today I felt like I found some of that way forward little by little.
My shadow at sunset high on a mesa. Blessings.