By Lynn Moncus: QCS Columnist
Sometimes the call of the canyons is louder than usual, especially when tension is rising and making the head feel a little like a pressure cooker that is about to explode.
Many of us who call Quay County our home have favorite areas that draw us to them so we can relax, clear our minds, and proceed with whatever shows up next. When I can’t manage to get the canyons, I often take mental trips to my special places and recall why they are so important.
For instance, I mentally climb into Black Jack’s cave and try to recapture the security I felt when that was my first play pen. Dad would place me in that cave while he worked on the spring and would know I was safe until his return. Of course, he would check the cave to be sure no rattlesnakes were present and then tell me to play in the sand while he tended to his chores. I could build trails and use my imagination, or I could just sit quietly and look across the canyon to Grandmother’s house, sometimes seeing her in her garden and knowing what she was planting or what she was retrieving for dinner. I could tell when she was picking green beans, digging carrots, or gathering a few onions.
Later, I might just curl up for a short nap and would dream the dreams of the childhood. Upon awakening, I could look into the canyon to see the faces on the sand rocks – the ones I imagined- and make up stories to tell Dad when he finished working. Having a vivid imagination was sometimes good and sometimes bad, depending upon what I thought I was seeing among those faces. Now and then, I’d get a little carried away and scare self silly as I saw scary faces. At other times, I’d see friendly faces and make up pleasant stories about them.
While in that cave, I always felt safe and knew that if I scared myself too much, all I had to do was shout to Dad and he would come running to the rescue. One time he rescued me from my imagination and took me to the spring to watch him work. He was on one side of that big rock, and I was just across from him when a rattler crawled between us. As I look back on that time, I know he was more frightened than I because I was closer to the snake and could have been bitten had I not listened carefully to him as he told me to stay very still. He didn’t have to repeat himself because I was frozen to the spot.
A quick slice with the shovel took care of the situation, and I was still frozen until Dad reached across to pick me up. That feeling of security in his arms has remained with me all these years. He very quietly told me all was well and returned me to the cave. I decided to stay put and control my imagination until he returned.
Although I rarely go to that cave any more, I can stand above it and still feel how safe I felt that day. I can hear his quiet voice and know that all is well. I no longer look for the strange faces but know which rocks reminded me of various people and can now smile when I think of some of the stories I built around them. I can still look across the canyon and imagine Grandmother working in her garden or can hear the echoes as we shouted across that canyon to each other.
Those of us who love the land know where to go when we need to relax and to be able to face whatever is around the bend. Place is very important to us, and we are most fortunate to live near a place we so love.