Thursday, January 15, 2009

Filling ratholes with cement.

It's that kind of provocative title, isn't it? Almost like the beginning of a bad metaphor in what will turn out to be a cringingly boring sermon as you slump, hungover, further into the pew. ( "...of course, we should try and understand that we've all had to fill ratholes with cement; each and every one of us. We cannot stand in judgement. But this should always bring to mind the parable of Jesus among the money changers in the temple... [ I had just typed 'Monet changers', which looked far more interesting... that proximital slip of the T and Y being adjacent each other on the keyboard creates a whole different tangent that is tempting to follow..anyway...])

So as I laid in bed at 3 am listening to an ongoing rodent Summer of Love in the walls, it brought to mind Gary Snyder's concept of 'porosity' from The Practice of the Wild, the idea of allowing our surroundings to move freely through our lives, a kind of practice of interpenetration and embrace of Rattus norvegicus. After all, they are sentient beings. .... Right. All that went out the window yesterday, when it was discovered that the furry bodhisattvas had started chewing on Jane's green, un-fired pots, as she had been using coconut in the clay body to open the texure of the surface during the bisque firing. Madam was not pleased. So it's a Friday evening, and I'm gripping a beer (sadly not a PBR , as suggested elsewhere) and filling ratholes with cement.; not off to interesting gigs, fashionable parties, or an evening filed with scintillating, Wildean repartee.

Anyway, sorry for the digression - the header photo: more holiday snaps. Lordsburg, New Mexico; a bypassed godforsaken railway town that was once a major hub of activity. It was the place that the 'Ringo Kid', John Wayne, had to get to in his early film Stagecoach, by John Ford. Standing in the middle of the high plains on the border of Arizona at over 4,000 feet, you can now stand on the main street at rush hour, all six lanes of it and take photos at your leisure. The early sun shows gold off the rail tracks that every 10 minutes a what seems miles-long freight labors over the imperceptible incline, four locos in front, two in the back, laden with containers of white-goods soma from China.

This vast space seems haunted, and indeed it was; we had spent the day driving up from the Mexican border through a long, high valley that was all pasturage, about four miles wide flanked by 1,000-2,000 foot ridges hemming in each side. This, compared to the landscape before and after, had seemed relatively lush in a high-plains-kind-of-way. We stopped for about a half an hour, alone, just outside a place called Apache, and listened to the impersonal, autonomous wind that had blown forever, irregardless of our presence, and would always continue to do so. The sense it gave was one of something lost, you kept scanning the ridges for some sign of the reasons why. The effect was entirely otherworldly, though you knew you were on a road, in the USA, in a car, participating in the shiny, almost-new Third Millennium.

The reason became clear at the next crossroads (to glorify one house by a dirt track by that name) - there was a stone cairn which, after seeing nothing for the last 60 miles, we stopped at. It was composed of spooky recovered stone quorns the women had used for grinding corn and local rock, with a small bronze plaque that announced this was the place that Geronimo and the exhausted Apaches had finally surrendered to the horse soldiers. Geronimo and 35 warriors had held off 5,000 cavalry for almost a year, (who they knew would only ever increase in number) and had finally been split up and ethnically-cleansed to reservations hundreds of miles away in Florida, while others had been sent to the extremely unpromising scrub land tracts that white guys decided they couldn't use for anything else. I found later it was called Skeleton Canyon; it had been their valley.

The thing that occurred to me was that all the valleys had been someone's long before they were driven from them.


Anonymous said...

nice pictures kev!!

kbop said...

well, I'm having to be quite restrained here, or else we're going to end up with endless numbers of views of rails or roads stretching into the distance, along with somewhat funky/crap motels and pictures of veeerrry long trains


Anonymous said...

It sounds exotic to me and makes me wonder..
you should upload some more pictures!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your temperance. As with many things in life I believe moderation to be the key.


Andrew James Brown said...

Is moderation a requirement in the matter of filling ratholes with cement? That aside the photos are very good. As a Brit, whose landscapes are somewhat more confined, I adore those open skies. I guess it's why I love the fens. Miles of bleak, flat, miserable black fields with the only detail being the odd barn and seemingly infinitely long drains. Damn, my Protestant bleak streak must be kicking in . . .

Honorclare said...

great pictures, they capture the atmosphere of the place. Cool. What kind of camera you have?