Thursday, July 1, 2010


OCCASIONALLY PARISHIONERS at the Church of the Open Road receive proof that God rides. Exhibit A this day (Thursday, June 24) comes in the form of US 89 between Logan, Utah and Garden City. Within three miles of departing the home of Utah State University, US 89 enters the mouth of Logan Canyon, coursing for some 33 miles east northeast along the river of the same name.

Beginning at cottonwood elevation – an environ prompting me to wish I’d taken my Claritin knock-off along with my acid blocker and arthritis formula this morning – the road sweeps skyward. God, on her Ducati – I assume the Ducati part, given that she can ride any bike she chooses – must revel in this work of man. Leaning left, then right, then left again, it is as if a Viennese waltz has been set to pavement. The river tumbles first to one side, then the other of the strip of smoothly engineered asphalt. The route follows the animated river as it gorges itself on rock particles, scouring and slicing through 1500 feet of sediment from the basement of an ocean She knew once upon a time, not too long ago.

Upward, the cottonwoods yield to aspen whose leaves, this first day after the summer solstice, have just reached maturity. I look at the stands ringing high country glades and reaching like fingers into groves of fir and consider the life cycle of the aspen leaf. In ten weeks or so, the first frost will spread its icy glaze across this elevation – so close to heaven – if only for a night or two. But it will be enough to turn the delicate leaves to a twittering gold, dancing on twig stems until, shortly thereafter, a big snow will blow in and strip them all away. The aspen will grow dormant. The fan-shaped leaves, stomas welded shut, will have performed their task: 75 days of respiration for the host. And until sometime late next spring, everything will rest.

Geologic time. Botanic time.

© 2010
Church of the Open Road Press

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