... In the night the memoria float up to scatter with old recursive visions the gaps between the words of the posted elegy preceding...
Ed Dorn and I went scouting in a tiny little car in March 1979 (it was just a few weeks short of Ed's fiftieth birthday), investigating "Wyo-booming": the energy boom in Wyoming, where coal, natural gas and uranium reserves were being exploited due to the sudden rise in gasoline prices. We drove all round the state, talking to wildcatters and itinerant riggers and geologists and polyurethane salesmen and tattooed barladies and boomers of every stripe and kind, meanwhile examining some of the strangest, most "unearthly" landscapes this side of the moon: Smithsonian- (as in Robert) scale excavations that put me in mind of the grandeur of the Theban constructions in the Valley of the Nile.
We'd departed Boulder in a false springtime that left us unprepared for the winds and snow we found in Wyoming. The deepening understanding of the meaning of the high plains snow-fence came over us in a rush as the little VW fastback was enveloped in blowing snow. Up in the Wind River Range, not too far from the spot (Titcomb Lakes) pictured in the top photo of the post below, we crossed the Continental Divide in alternating blizzard and blinding sunlight and then again blizzard; the whole scene set into a haze broken with spells of extreme visual acuity; Ed, hunched over the steering wheel like a small-plane pilot over his controls in rough weather, his searching squint into the oncoming flakes contained and keen and penetrant, the white-out a signless opaque cloud gradually enclosing us, wordless, the windows iced, the air frigid, bluish wisps of mushroom smoke drifting like cartoon genies out of Ed's corncob pipe. A wild experience of riding the spine of the Americas at what amounted to an Andean height (well over 10,000 feet, the Wind River Range reaches up near 14,000), well... you had to be there.
The shot up top here, anyway, will give you a bit of an idea of what it looked like then, cresting the continent... in another life.
And then we had some other adventures in somewhat calmer weathers on the way back. That prairie dog I mentioned in the elegy, it stared us right in the eye, in its pop-up prairie dog town, at the base of Devil's Tower...
With not a human soul in sight we made the circuit trail on foot round the base of the Tower, through the pines the vistas westward opened up forever; out there lay for Ed a summoned history, a memory of time and movements of the peoples...
Wind River Canyon: photo by Jonathon Green, 2005
Devil's Tower, Wyoming: photo by Jeff Fennell, 2006
Wyoming landscape as seen from Tower Trail at Devil's Tower National Monument: photo by Xnatedawg, 2008
Lost Springs road sign, state route 20, Wyoming: photo by Idunno00923, 2006