Monday, August 17, 2009

On the Edge - Not Over

(sorry friends, I'm having trouble loading the pictures I want to this post - I'll try again tomorrow)
(no luck. is anyone else having trouble placing pictures in their post?)

I managed to visit two of our country's National Parks this past weekend. Arches and Canyonlands near Moab, Utah. I loved it. So completely beautiful and awe inspiring.

I don't know for sure who Wallace Stegner is but I agree with his sentiment;

"National Parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely
democratic, they reflect us as our best rather than our worst."
It is amazing what you can learn when you are completely immersed in nature. Sure, when it comes to how those glorious arches were formed you learn about geology, erosion, the effects of time.

It was our venture to see Canyonlands that I learned something about someone who loves me.

Mr. Burns, his sister and I went for the weekend. She was visiting from their home state. Once we were in Canyonlands and we all got out of the car to take in a view of the jagged cliffs and rocks jutting out from miles below - she couldn't avoid her fear of heights. She explained a tingly, eebie jeebies feeling that runs down the back of her legs.

I just cannot relate to a fear of heights. I've heard people talk about the feeling of vertigo when encountering heights or in this case, depths below them. But seeing as I am a person who LOVES heights, I can't really understand. Actually, to me - it seems like an irrational fear. As long as you have good footing - how is it scary?

As comedian Steven Wright used to say; "I'm not afraid of heights. I'm afraid of widths."

Much more logical to me.

I learned that Mr. Burns shares this fear with his sister. He is fine as long as there is something to support him... like a railing, or a safety cage, or a secure rope. Something firmly placed between him and splat.

I - on the other hand - am so unafraid of heights that it can be dangerous. I once had the privilege of standing atop the presidential heads of Mount Rushmore. I kept wandering to the front of one face with my camera and at one point the park ranger tied a rope around my waist! I thought he was teasing, being overly dramatic.

It wasn't until we were working our way back down the rear of the carving, and someone pointed out where I had been standing... (below Abe's hairline) that I realized why the park ranger was concerned.

I do have a pretty good grip on my limitations. And realistically, if it had been that dangerous, the ranger would have foregone the rope and just told me to get my butt back where it belongs! (it's not like they can risk loss of life on their watch! He's not going to risk his job for my whim.)

Not only am I unafraid of heights, I'm attracted to them. I love to be on the edge and I'm a bit of a mountain goat.

When I was kid, I climbed the grain bins on our farm. Any time there was a ladder propped against anything - any building - I was at the top of it.

So when viewing the canyons from the fence along the viewing platform didn't really do it for me - I wandered over to an open vista.

The dramatic view was irresistible so I set my camera on my backpack, used the self-timer and snapped this shot.

When I turned back, I found Mr. Burns standing a few yards behind, on the sidewalk with his arms crossed and a stern look on his face.

I smiled and said, "See. I'm alive. I didn't fall."

He was not amused.
I reminded him that I'm not afraid. It's no big deal.
He told me that whether I am afraid or not, the danger is real.
I disagreed. I know the limits.

He explained that if I fell, and found myself hanging onto that proverbial daisy, like in cartoons - he would not be able to go after me, and then he would look like a jerk!

But it was when he said that now he knew what it must feel like to see your child get hurt or in a place of danger - that I realized he really does love me.

There he was, torn between his fear of danger and his desire to keep me safe.

It's good to know.

I don't like putting him in that position. But I don't see how I can stay away from the edge. It's one of the few thrills in my life. He'll just have to look away.


Heidi said...

I'm glad you made it to my neck of the woods! I love the desert and I love the national parks in my beautiful home state. There's a state park called Dead Horse Point that overlooks Canyonlands from the North--the view is breathtaking.

I'm also glad you learned something about who loves you. :) That's pretty amazing!

Stacey said...

Oh, I love National Parks! I've always wanted to see that particular part of the country. Beautiful!