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  Ivoking the Canyon Spirit
  The News ~ fall 1992

oted Canyon geologist Ivo Lucchitta ponders a question many of us have a difficult time pinpointing: why do we keep coming back to Grand Canyon? We give you an excerpt from a letter he recently sent…

   “…wherein lies the secret?

   Many evenings have been spent around Grand Canyon campfires debating this question, yet no satisfactory answer has been reached. We all agree that the ponderous majesty of the great rock layers, heavy with ancient secrets and contrasting with the sparkling female quickness of river and stream water, is part of the magic, as is the way of life along the river’s shores and in the recesses of the canyon. Beyond that we agree little, because response to the Canyon is so individual and varied.

   For me, the answer lies in detail that encompasses the whole, the poet’s way of dealing with the world… for me the Canyon is…

   The fragrance of verbena on sandy evenings

   The cascade of the canyon wren’s liquid song

   The unexpected shady and green silence of side canyons, and the sudden intrusion of the river’s sound at the mouth

   The smell and ever-present sound of the great river, whether the thundering roar of a rapid or the lapping tinkle of the quiet stretches

  The purple explosion of redbud trees in the spring

  Orion and the Pleiades in the slit of the sky, and the new panoply of stars when awakening at night

  The companionship and friendship of boatmen, cooks and other river people, a great privilege and honor

  The Harvest moon rising in the slit of Comanche Point, while on the beach below an impromptu rip- roaring rendezvous of river people is in full swing, the river people gathered on that particular beach by the attraction of some unexplained pheromone

  The cool and perfumed first light, when the features of the Canyon slowly emerge from the shadows of the night and birds issue the first tentative morning song.

  But it is the words of Kazantzakis that perhaps best trigger the complex of feelings that cumulatively represent the Grand Canyon for me. These are his exact words:

  “The returning swallows, like shuttles of a loom, wove spring into the air”

  Here lies the clue to the matter. One’s feelings about the Grand Canyon are precisely that - feelings, matters of the heart and spirit, not the intellect…”


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