Potluck Collage Essay

As we rounded the bend, a wide valley opened before us.  The form and constraint from previous experience seemed to immediately vanish.  Prior beliefs, assumptions, theories, narratives, and comforts could not stretch to contain this new perpective and so were ripped apart at the seams.  With my prior view left in tatters, I had no choice but to carry forward, all my worldly possessions clinging to my body in packs and cases.  One foot forward, and then the next.  Repeat.  Observe.  Feel.  This process would help me to unfold into my new surroundings, to see through the haze, to clarify my vision and intention.

I climbed the pothole to feel the soil.  The texture of flour – unlike soil that I grew up on.   This soil is unbleached.  It is a tone of yellow similar to mustard; somewhat milky.  It also holds very little moisture, but is supportive.  Somehow it is not kidnapped by wind.  Roots of small bushes hold it down in the cracks between rocks, but in my hand it gets lost. In my palm it rests only temporarily until the wind carries it in several directions. I cannot hold on.  The cracks between my fingers are not enough.

The pothole seems to draw us in.  When this gaping hole in the Earth appears as we summit the plateau I feel the urge to climb down and sit in the center of this outlandish geological formation.  The thought that an underwater vortex created this fills me with new respect for the power of mother nature.  The feel of sitting in one of these potholes is hard to describe.  It is quiet, peaceful and sheltered from the harsh desert landscape surrounding it.  There is a subdued calm in the air.

This is the only place I’ve been that feels legitimately cut-off from the rest of the world. The feeling of being in a pothole is hard to describe. For me I feel as if I had had been teleported to another time and place. Even in the middle of nature these potholes feel distinct. I have never seen anything like it, these are the true potholes putting the lowly city ones to shame. They seem alien to the environment, divots in a landscape normally smooth, the plateaus have flat tops. The layers of rock along the canyon walls are uniformly distributed, evenly spaced, and regularly contoured but theses potholes stand out. Rather they shout: “I am unique, I have a story to tell!” Walking or sliding down the strewn heaps of rock, the story of this pothole, one large cavity in the landscape begins to unfold. It begins to blossom, and to decay. Along the bottom half of the walls sit a sloped pile of broken rocks. They begin to break down into sand, eaten away grounded by lichens. This powder now collects at the bottom of and insulates the roots of countless plants. Through decay new life blossoms,  beauty you can find even in a pothole 15,000 years old.

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