Some days just don't go according to plan.
|"Closed: For the purpose of minimizing the potential of a dangerous bear/human encounter. Numerous bears are in the area feeding on the abundant acorn crop."|
Flowers had splashed everywhere, vibrant, lush, exhilarating. Sunflowers, coneflowers, harebells, asters, geraniums—before I had even made it the few steps from the car to the trailhead, the camera was out and working. Flowers, I pay attention to. Trees, on the other hand... they're kind of a blind spot of mine. I notice them in general but often don't pay much attention to them in particular. If you asked me whether the forest trees were pines, aspens, or baobabs, I wouldn't know, not because I can't tell the difference, but because I really didn't see them.
Not the live ones, that is. The dead ones are a little different. Only one jarring note sounded during this excursion:
but it sounded over
Logging? Forest management? The internet mentioned logging in the 1950's, but I highly doubt these trees were felled as long ago as 60 years. Still, it's been long enough for fungus to have grown on the logs, so "a number of years ago" would be my guess, but not many.
Back at home I looked in my books for information about the hiking trail but found no mention of the downed logs. The blogs and other online resources—no mention. Either it's such a normal feature of trails in the Sandias, or the path turns into pristine wilderness farther on, or the writers have focused only on guidepost-y landmarks, or they're so aware of all the good things—the raspy call of mountain chickadees, the shrieking of Steller's jays; the brisk, resiny smell of conifers and the sweet scent that only comes near fresh water; the trees (whatever they are) and abundant wildflowers—that the ugliness of waste is something they're blind to, at least in print.
That kind of blew me away—at first impression the detritus almost overwhelms the beauty of the flowers. It's everywhere. It looks like a mountainside of trees was clearcut and the unmillable logs abandoned. But on my second visit, or third? Maybe I'll learn to be blind to the wreckage, too.
I've found myself since then mulling over different kinds of blind spots: "inattentional blindness"—the invisible gorilla that we overlook because our focus is elsewhere, as described by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons; blindness to things we haven't yet learned to notice and so don't have on our radar; and the clearcutting blindnesses we choose to suit our own purposes.
One day the land will recover from and return to equilibrium. But in the arid mountains, 7,000 feet above sea level, that will be a long, slow process.
La Cienega is getting back to nature—but it won't get there in my lifetime.
* Flocks of considerate hummingbirds are so hard to come by these days.
For the record, I know Dan Simons but am mentioning The Invisible Gorilla purely on its own merits; I haven't been paid—or even bribed with pizza (Dan's preferred medium of exchange). (Do look at the experiment—it's fascinating.)
Editor's Note: Since publishing a more spluttery version of this post on the 22nd, I've come back and softened it a little. Really, I don't know why I got so up in arms; the horse is long since out of the barn.
Editor's Note 2: Baffled made a comment that has me rethinking my impressions. I may have jumped to conclusions and have done some editing accordingly. The upshot is, "I don't know what happened there but would sure like to find out."