Notes from Westwater

Last Saturday, Ted, Oggie, and I drove to Blue Notch, the clay saddle between two massive red rock formations north of the Happy Jack mine in Red Canyon, hoping to photograph desert wildflowers. The prince’s plumes bloomed along with a few fishhook cacti, primroses, and, surprisingly, tamarisk,...
Despite a strong winter, some of the pinyons in Westwater have died with brown needles hanging on the branches or piled beneath. Those trees will become nurslings – sometimes to baby flickers whose parents have drilled holes into the dead wood – sometimes to other plants as the branches and trunks...
A long time ago, in a world much different than ours, three friends set out to explore Butler Wash and Comb Ridge even though snow blanketed the desert. They drove south on the Butler Wash road until they spotted a likely side canyon, turned off, and bounced over a rough trail, finally bringing...
After World War I, Midwestern farmers began using machinery to expand their fields. They plowed up land that once grew drought-resistant grasses and planted wheat, but the market soon became glutted, and people couldn’t afford to buy much food during the Depression, so prices plummeted. Desperate...
“Once upon a midnight dreary...” begins the poem, The Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe. It tells the story of a man who has lost his beloved Lenore and yearns for her presence only to be told by an ominous raven that he will hold her “nevermore.” In this poem and in many cultures, ravens and crows serve...
When I was six, I was reading Wind in the Willows in my bedroom. Suddenly, something alerted me to danger, and I looked up just as a tiny spider crawled down the wall toward me.  Mustering all my courage, I stayed still and watched as it scuttled closer and closer and closer. Finally, I could stand...
NOTES FROM WESTWATER I lived for a time in Emporia, Kansas, home of William Allen White, the Pulitzer prize-winning owner, publisher, and editor of the Emporia Gazette. His son, William Lindsay White, served as an associate editor in the 1930s, and in 1935, during the height of the Dust Bowl, he...
Many years ago, I was sitting under a juniper in Westwater, contemplating life with my eyes closed. Suddenly, they popped open on their own accord, and a fox, perhaps three feet away, was beelining toward me. It had gigantic ears, a black snout, and gray coloring with reddish hair on its ears,...
Early in April, Ted and I explored the south side of Recapture Reservoir with our cameras. We felt a sense of wonder as water poured in from Johnson Creek and Recapture. The peninsula had once again become an island, and the old highway disappeared beneath muddy waves. Wildflowers cloaked the area...

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