"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Time, for Ed Abbey

"Desert Time"--5 by 8 watercolor, handmade Indian paper
Poetry makes time travel possible.
Long ago a favorite university student, friend and fellow desert lover introduced me to Ed Abbey, whose abrasive writing in novels and essays--Monkey Wrench Gang, Desert Solitaire--of the Southwest inspired the radical environmental EarthFirst! movement. You may have seen an old black and white Kirk Douglas-Walter Matthau movie, Lonely Are the Brave, (1962) filmed in Albuquerque and the Sandias. It's based on Abbey's book, The Last Cowboy. Douglas said it was his favorite film.
Ed, in many ways a modern Thoreau, died in 1989 at age 62 and is buried in the remote Arizona desert. 
I think I've read most of  his sometimes tortured works, but again picked up Earth Apples, the collection of poetry and philosophies, seeking inspiration for an urge to paint.
In "Essay on Time," he asks, "Are there not several modes of time?" and then writes of eight such kinds of time.
Here's number six:
            "desert time: the stillnesses
             and music of sky and rock,
             the movement of wind on sand" 
I could have painted number four, but that's later:
           "the time of poetry, the time
            of music, the time of love."

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