I like desert places. Places where life is scrappy and small and leaves bare the raw geology of the earth.
In southern Utah there is a place that has been molded by ancient seas, its sediments crushed to stone by time. An old place uplifted by tectonic forces and cut back by the Virgin River. The native peoples called this place Mukuntuweap, Straight Canyon. The Mormons declared it Zion, a word with a complicated etymology, perhaps from the old Hebrew for Dry Place.
And it is, a straight canyon, a dry place. But most importantly for me, it is a refuge from the busy, overstimulated modern world.
The rocks here are, at times, red as fresh blood, orange as overripe squash, yellow as the surrounding dying leaves. What life can be found clings to the bare cliffs, huddles close to the Virgin River as she winds her way south. The air is dry and thin, especially as you climb your way up to the rim of the canyon.
It is a place to feel small, to breathe stillness, to listen for the faraway sounds of water, the rustle of deer in the grass, the chatter of the ravens. Things that were here long before you ever came to be; things that will remain long after. It is a place to feel a part of this earth, this brief moment in time, before we too must return to the sand, our small lives crushed and forgotten by time.