Saturday, June 9, 2007

caprock storm

© Gene Moore

I don’t know. But for years I thought that something like this was an explanation for a recurring childhood dream of mine, of a landscape image like a Georgia O’Keeffe painting, no action or people, just a suspended dreamscape of a vermillion canyon wall under a cobalt sky, with white clouds hanging like cotton balls…In high school I decided I must have seen, when very young, a dramatic postcard or a National Geographic photograph that had made a strangely profound impression. Later, in college, I resolved on the more metaphysical explanation that the dream was a genetic memory and anticipated the rush of recognition in my wandering through the West.
-Dan Flores, Caprock Canyonlands

We dream of landscapes, and grieve and regret them. Sometimes a landscape becomes embodied in the form of a man, and you fall in love with him, possibly have his child, and spend years trying to dream that drum of prairie rain, that relentless thunderstorm out of your head and heart. This one had inscribed the horizon with a needle on the copperplate of his soul, and inked it and rolled you through the press with God knows how many pounds of pressure until every scratch was like your own memory, was engraved in your blood. Now I imagine him, that same landscape he etched in me reflected in his eyes, with cold precision--five hundred miles away for a few days, and I can breathe, and I know I will always miss him.

I don’t know if he saw the landscape in himself, if he looked toward his own cavernous depths with the same mix of longing and fear that I did, if he saw at the same time the beauty and tragedy--like the stories that littered the Caprock, rough-edged myths you could sharpen a blade on, only more heartbreaking. But there comes a time when you long to never be another Iphiginea, or Cassandra, or Andromache, or Clytemnestra--when you just want something that is simple, painless, perhaps, even (possibly) comedic.

But in the wetter years, the high drama of summer on the Llanos takes place in the afternoon skies…All along the front of the Caprock the canyons act like moisture tunnels, pipelines that funnel this warm, moist air into beachheads of dry air meteorologist call “drylines” atop the plain, spawning massive weather cells. Most are ordinary thunderstorms, but if the cell begins to rotate and sucks moisture up, the canyon wind tunnels at ever faster rates, at some level of critical mass the entire cell will go spinning off to the northeast, trailing tornado funnels behind it. -Dan Flores