Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Konza rambles -- part II (Jan 31)

("I wonder if the tape recorder is going to pick up the sound of the wind in the grass?")

"Layering of memories -- just last week, climbing this hill, I was doing so because the deer were here. I was so freezing cold, had turned around, was going to go back, but a different deer popped out next to me, so I paused, turned around. I said, well maybe I should at least climb the hill to get the view. I guess I'll always remember that."


“Today it’s not about the sky, it’s about the earth – the colors! The sky is pale, pale blue with a couple of those not even wispy clouds, just a thin veneer of, I don’t know, lack-of-color is all I can think of.

“But the earth -- the grasses are such an incredibly rich gold and russet.

“Watching the wind. I remember this in the grasslands, too, in South Dakota, you could get sea-sickness! The grass -- just ripples of colors and shimmer, gold.”

“The sun’s warm on my jeans already. It’s all feels (well, in terms of temperature, not texture so much) – it’s feels and sounds and sights, but no smells here.

“Smell is what’s supposed to invoke the strongest emotion. According to those cognitive neuroscientists, the nose and olifactory senses (tastebuds, etc) are just closest to memory centers – the amygdala (?). So smells are supposed to help people remember – be the strongest ties, link back to moments – but here it’s so dry and so cold (and my nose is running because it’s windy), I don’t smell anything.”

“I think of deserts, and it’s just juniper. Juniper and a whiff of sage. But oh the wind here…”


(“mmm, I’m happy enough with sights and sounds.”)

“Plane overhead, leaving these huge streaks and scars across the sky. It’s odd, the issue of scale: looking at the plane which is thousands and thousands of feet in the air, then looking down at the ground – little trees and little houses and little water towers and little roads. It’s just so big.”

(“I took off my hat. It’s much too cold to do so, but oh I don’t know I want the feel of the wind and my hair the color of the grass.”)

“It helps to have a path. I’m not actively picking my route, I’m just going wherever the neatly mowed trail tells me to.

“Well, it does take me to places that I wouldn’t go otherwise. I probably by now would have thought, ‘okay, enough with the grass,’ and would have headed off to try another surface. Or I might not ever venture down to the water because it’s beautiful up here.

“The path is both limiting and freeing.”

“I really wish I’d brought Sand County Almanac out here with me, into the wind. Books like that are just meant to be read outside.”

“A smell! A smell! I have no idea what it is, but it’s sweet and I wish I were a deer so that I could tell you what it is!

(“Though I don’t know who “you” is – I don’t know who I’m talking to…”)

“Just know that there’s… well, it’s gone now, but there was a smell…”

“Driving through North Dakota this summer, I tried to get Dad to stop so that I could take pictures of the fenceposts. They have such character, so many stories in the wood. He never did, though, he would never stop. But here too, I can stop and think, hmm, just came across an old wooden one. It’s snared in the wire, looks like it was blown in by the wind, as opposed to actually ever being planted.

(“I’ll take a picture, word’s don’t…”)


(“’Take a picture,’ I say. I’m stealing a memory from the Konza.”)

“I want to go up over the next hill, but there’s a sign saying ‘DO. NOT. ENTER.’ Half the fun of things is just exploring. The bear went over the mountain to see what he could see, but not here because it’s a ‘Research Area.’ ‘DO. NOT. ENTER.’

“What’s the difference? Here? Ten feet over! It’s a line on a map somewhere.”

(“The sky’s become blue.”)

“I wonder if, next week when I walk this again, I’ll remember each of those places where I made a recording? See I remember that place back there where I thought the sky was blue because I remember taking a photograph of it the first time I came out with my camera. I must have been struck by the exact same feel – the tree against the sky and then the fencepost next to it. I memorialized it. A place. A memory to the place, a place to the memory.

“So next week, am I going to remember walking down this stretch, talking about the future?

“Oh dear, Time and Space and all laws of Physics denied by the philosophy of geography.”

“Water’s flowing under the ice. You can actually see the surface melting. It’s not reflective any more. It’s sparkling in the sun, it’s soft. The rocks are popping out, a little waterfall is trickling.

It’s January, for goodness sake!”

“I feel tremendously guilty – I just was walking, thinking, and heard a rustling in the grass. It sounded like something bigger than a little brown bird, so I thought “hmm, I don’t know, maybe it’s a rabbit or something.” So I took a step, maybe two steps off the path, just towards the grass (through the mowed section) and a pheasant flew up! Then another one! Then a dozen of them! Just flapped and squawked their way into the sky!”

“It was entirely my fault. I completely disturbed them, scared the daylights out of all of us.


(“And it was beautiful and immediate.”)


(“Oh, there goes a little tweeter-bird. Oh, and another one. Hmmm.”)

“So it goes. I’m back to the car. There were many more people along the last stretch, now that it’s gotten warmer in the day. I’ve walked the thoughts out of me. Mmm, that’s what I’d been hoping for.”



“Oh a dead cardinal in the road! Just this brilliant, brilliant red and there in a tiny little feathered lump. In the road. I don’t know. Just the colors today have all been brown and blue, then this shock of red."

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