Thursday, June 19, 2014

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!

This past week, I've been refraining from much use of the camera as well as blogging about our experiences. It's been quite liberating. It's funny how at times I create all these "priorities" that I obsess about, missing out on the experience of the present. So I chose to enjoy as much time as possible in the canyon and with all those near me that I care about.

These past couple of days, I have learned one of many lessons in attachment. The last time I was in the library, I left behind one of my memory cards and a thumb drive. I had taken some pictures this past week and had wanted to post them. I became distraught when I found out that both of these items had been taken. I do have a couple more memory cards, but I was still upset. All those pictures, gone! But do I need the memory card, the thumb drive, the pictures? No. Whoever took these, they clearly need them more than I do. And that's ok.

I don't need pictures and not even this blog, but I'll continue writing because some people seem to enjoy the stories. And I'll post more pictures one day. Here's a few pictures that I took off of the card already, before it vanished.

On Monday morning (the 9th), I walked into town to run some errands. I took a higher route through the canyon to become familiar with a different area, while admiring the beauty of the morning sun bathing everything in its light.

Upon leaving the canyon, as has become ritual with us, I stopped at an abandoned orchard to collect some apricots. After this, just down the street, I gathered some mulberries. Nothing like picking your own fresh fruit! We have been blessed to be able to pick these as well as cherries all around town. Now plums are available by the bike paths, and peaches are almost ripe! There's nothing like the feeling of picking your own fruit, of knowing where it comes from.

A day or two later, Daniel showed us around farther up-canyon. We saw natural, man-made, and beaver-made art everywhere! Yes, artwork made by a beaver. There is one on display in downtown Moab, close to the library, but this one was even more incredible! We found it propped up against a cliff, over 6 feet tall and chewed into six segments. At a certain angle, it looks like a spiral. Looking at it, it's clear that this piece is intentional artwork, and not something done by chance. Animals definitely have a sense of play and creativity, not a life solely focused on survival.

Freebird has taught me that we can play with the birds, butterflies, and damselflies. When we're sunning on the rocks, the damselflies keep playing with us and landing on us. They even let us pet them and their fragile wings, a very trusting act. If we damaged their wings, they wouldn't survive for long. We flap our arms to mimic the butterflies, and they follow us along the trails. We make bird calls and converse with the ravens.

Anyway, back to our adventure up the canyon with Daniel. After seeing the beaver sculpture, we stopped at a heart-shaped pool for a swim by a dome with two caves that we call, "Star Wars Caves." Around this pool are huge stretches of black rocks that are perfect for sunbathing. Freebird offered us lunch here. Daniel disappeared and returned carrying a prickly pear cactus pad, set it down on the rock, and removed the needles. Another delicious snack! (Jake and I documented this process this morning, and I'll post it another day.)

From there, we then ventured to the breathtaking Otho Arch! I've visited many arches in Arches National Park, nine years ago, but none of those compare to this one! Nestled in a pine forest, this double arch, covered in multiple streaks of color, has provided shelter over the years to many. Beneath the arches, we climbed up some sandstone cliffs to an area that clearly was a camp. Intricate carvings by a man that Daniel knows are everywhere. A chess/checkers board, a phoenix, the Star of David, a peace sign, a heart, an ankh, and several others. Freebird and I sat on a stone bench while Daniel serenaded us and the mosquitoes with the flute. The sound of the mosquitoes was bothering Daniel until he decided to play along with them, and what resulted was quite a mesmerizing song. Even the mosquitoes were affected. One landed on my finger and just relaxed there. No bites.

Many rainstorms had been passing over us that day, and on the walk back, the sun emerged from the clouds. Golden light everywhere. As we arrived at Sculpture Cave, we watched the sun set over the canyon. This cave has been given this name because of Daniel's beautiful creation. He carved a man's face, with the tree of life emerging from the brow. On the tree is a snake, and to the side of the tree is a raven in flight. Daniel used to stay here until he was fined by the BLM and forced to leave. Someone smashed his sculpture to the ground. Daniel thought that it was damaged, but then later found that someone had propped the still-intact face back up to face the west.

Much of the rest of the week has been a blur to me, though every experience sure has been rich. One afternoon, Freebird and I went to Love Pool to swim and lay on the rocks. We also began playing beach volleyball in the stream near Cottonwood Cave. The prior week, we had found a beach ball along the side of the road. So a week later, we finally decided to play with it. We're preparing for the Rainbow Gathering!

One evening, while we were sunning on the rocks, Jake showed up. We had met him weeks ago. He had wandered over to Cottonwood Cave, saying, "I think I made a wrong turn." Freebird responded, "No, you didn't." Jake learned about our little community, decided to leave Salt Lake City, and returned to live with us. Since then, he has been staying in the Guest Cave with Daniel. We're all so glad that he's here, and we're all enjoying getting to know him.

On Friday, Freebird and I went into town. Though we used the library's computers, I refrained from writing the blog that day. I listened to some excerpts of Peace Pilgrim and checked messages. Then we walked to the laundromat. Freebird split a slice from Paradox Pizza with me and offered to wash some of my clothes. In this laundromat, there's a bin of free clothes. Within it, a woman had just placed a recently-washed dress. I tried it on, and ran over to show her. She was so pleased that it fit someone. I decided to keep it, and later that night, we made some alterations over at Pete's house. Freebird cut it to just above my knees, and now I have a comfortable dress to wear on these warm days! That night, I also met Tess, Pete's new roommate. She's such a sweetheart, with a warm smile.

Pete and his dog, Josie, walked with Freebird and me to City Market that night. Pete ran into a friend of his in the parking lot and offered to take his shopping cart back to the store. I hopped in and Pete pushed me along, spinning the cart in circles. Meanwhile Freebird sang, "You spin me right round, baby right round, like a record baby..." while I screamed and giggled. Shoppers going in and out of the store were either laughing with us or trying not to laugh. One man at the Red Box was trying to ignore us and suppress a giggle. Pete, Josie, and I walked over to the school behind the store and waited for Freebird to come out with some groceries.

We then went to Rotary Park and split some chicken, superfood salad, macaroni salad, chips, and ice cream. Josie found some spaghetti there and continued snooping for some food. The day was Friday the 13th. A girl that appeared to be in high school or early college asked us if we were there for the gathering. Soon, about 10 of them were sitting around a table, full of lit candles. They were chanting to deceased ancestors, and then they moved to the ground to do the ritual, "Light as a feather, stiff as a board." Meanwhile, Pete was farting impressively every 30 seconds. Freebird and I were collapsing with laughter at the whole spectacle. Even the girls were keeping a count of his flatulence, "49....50..." The whole time we were with Pete, there must have been over 100 farts. The girls then left to go to the nearby graveyard, and we told Pete to go over and scare them. It never happened, but we all had fun anyway.

On Sunday, I received a reminder about the importance of giving, a huge lesson. I didn't take it too well at first and almost didn't go to the potluck. But soon, I saw my error and made my way into town to search the dumpsters. Now I'm grateful beyond words for this lesson in selflessness. I showed up at the potluck, arms and backpack full of shirts, pants, towels, a blanket, 7 or 8 unopened drinks (Gatorade, iced tea, protein drinks), tea bags, coffee creamers, and so much more. Most of that was from one dumpster! I was offered some food, and didn't even crave that much of it for once. I normally pig out on food, but it's interesting how the hunger disappears when selflessness appears and others come first. All that I found in the dumpsters was left there for others to take, and I went back to the canyon with Pete, Freebird, and Josie to offer a tour to Pete's friend Jo and her daughter (from Oregon). After taking her to the best mulberry tree in town and showing her the caves and swimming areas, Jo said to Pete with a laugh, "I hate you."

On Tuesday, Freebird and I went back to town. First, we stopped and visited with Dory, Bear, and Ziggy again. It had been awhile since I stopped in to see them. Dory shared with us a beautiful story about her mother, who is now 100 1/2 years old. When Dory was younger, she was a mischievous child, always bringing home snakes and other animals and getting into trouble. She wanted to run away one day and packed up her things. Her mother offered to help her and told her where to go catch the train! Her mother consoled the worried father, "She'll be back by tonight." Sure enough, Dory didn't catch the train. The conductor just threw her his hat. Dory returned home that night, wearing a conductor's hat.

Later that evening I checked the dumpsters again and found a surplus of food.  I filled two boxes and made a couple of trips to drop the food off at Pete's place. I found about a dozen cartons of eggs, a huge jug of orange/mango juice, and lots of deli food (egg rolls, lasagna, breakfast sandwiches, hot dogs). All of it still fit for consumption. I also found several containers of organic milk, but left it, unsure whether or not to grab it. Pete assured me that it was still edible and told me that he would pick it up later.

Again, Pete and Josie walked with us to City Market. As Freebird went in, two girls walked out, calling, "Brian? Brian?" Pete walked right up to them, and with a grin, repeated their inquiry to them. The girls just laughed and walked away, around to the side of the store, in the direction we were already heading. One of the girls was walking on top of a retaining wall. Pete climbed up the wall and began following her! They got into their car, and as we passed, Pete looked at them and inquired, "Brian? Brian?" I was laughing so hard that I almost fell over.

Then we went over to the dumpster. Pete and Josie left when a worker was staring at us. I didn't care and I kept looking through the bags. The worker never acted opposed to what I was doing. He just observed with curiosity. He probably was surprised that a girl in a sun dress was digging through the trash!

We went to the park afterwards to split some ice cream. Daniel appeared out of the darkness. "You know you're not supposed to have dogs here?" After Pete left, Daniel and I went over to the dumpsters there. A party that day had left behind so much food. Four bulk bags of unopened salad mix and a huge jar of ranch dressing! We couldn't haul all of this up-canyon that night, with all that we had already gathered from Pete's, plus Freebird's groceries. We just pulled the food out of the dumpster and left it on a picnic table for someone else to grab.

On Monday morning, Freebird was reading aloud to me, "Science and Health: with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. Alf found us and walked right up to us. We went over to the Guest Cave and joined Daniel and Jake. Daniel laid down for a nap, and the rest of us went to explore the creek and swim at the whirlpool. Here's a few pictures that Alf took that day...

Yesterday evening Pete, Chelsea, Tess, and Phil showed up for a cave party. Before dinner, Pete entertained us with the guitar while we watched the baby ravens fly about the canyon. We had a huge potluck, mostly of dumpster food and wild edibles. Chelsea contributed out-of-this-world pesto and quiche and Daniel made scrumptious quinoa salad. There was also fresh salad, chips, and beer. Pete and Josie left, and the rest of us went to Cottonwood Cave for s'mores with mulberries. Jake taught us a method to melt the chocolate while we roasted marshmallows. And meanwhile, Daniel played guitar for us. I do still have pictures of this night, and I'll post them later.

Well I did make it moneyless for 5 weeks, and I'm astounded by that alone! In the 6th week, I spent $2 to buy some flip flops from Wabi Sabi. I needed some comfortable hiking shoes for the summer weather. Other than that, I spent $8 on a package to send back to some friends in Fort Wayne. The rest of the cash I had stowed away is now with a dear friend who has given so generously to me these past several weeks. I still have money on a card for student loan payments, and that is all. But it is an amazing feeling to be living "minimally"! Minimal possessions, but maximum joys! So many material things are dropping away, but I'm living very abundantly. These material things to which I clung were just a false sense of security to me. I'm learning through first-hand experience that God provides everything to us. There's nothing to fear!


  1. Stephanie, your blogs about your adventures are incredible. Thank you so much for sharing them with the world. I need to make a trip out to Moab one weekend before the summer ends if the tribe is still in the cave! Maybe Alex and I could head out there.