Word is, something big’s happening tonight on Project Runway. At least, that’s what I hear coming over the top of the cubicle wall. Check it out, yo. It’s gonna be huge.
I’m embarrassed that I even work in a place where the ambient sounds include discussions of Project Runway carried out by the very concerned voices of unseen females on the other side of the room. I am a pilgrim in an unholy land.
Could be worse. I do, after all, have a beautiful view looking out over a placid stretch of the Colorado River beneath deep blue skies and orange sandstone cliffs glowing in the early-morning sunshine. I pretend that the shiny thumbtack holding it all up is a UFO coming to deliver messages of peace and love and to take me somewhere where not only do I have such a view for real, but it’s not even through a window much less a recycled calendar page.
Shifting my eyes slightly to the left, I travel several hundred miles to the serene, snow-blanketed valley floor of Jackson Hole, gazing heavenward to where the shining snowfields of the South, Middle and Grand Tetons, Nez Perce and Mt. Owen dazzle in the bright afternoon light. That friendly and persistent flying saucer is here as well. They must really have something important to tell me, yet they never seem to get any closer.
When I swivel my head around to the right, another wintry scene is laid out before me: the forested valley of Yosemite, each branch of every tree bending under the burden of new-fallen snow, the 3,000-foot façade of El Capitan and the distant visage of the iconic Half Dome the only places within view too steep to support a blanket of white. Accompanying our thumbtack-like interstellar traveler in this vista is a gigantic, levitating set of century-old words from John Muir that stretch clear across the valley from one cliff top to the other:
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home, that wildness is a necessity, and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.
Oh, but don’t forget Project Runway tonight. Something big is gonna happen.