With some writers, journaling is left to others. For many of us, it is a place to record feelings, sensations, impressions, thoughts and experiences.  For me, it is one of those ways I have of sorting out writing dilemmas, plot or character problems or simply dumping my frustration of whatever has grabbed me and put my self-doubt to work. It is not unusual for some of those pieces, or parts of them, to reappear in a novel or poem at a later date. Here’s a wintry bit where that process may be apparent.


 Back from a wild trip to California by January 10, we felt we had truly come home. Perhaps it is the stony silence of our monolithic surroundings, or the snowy easing of a white rug on the ground, or the soundless parade of stately mule deer across our field; whatever speaks to us here does so profoundly.

 And, then, the Canadian Geese arrived. First, one seated himself in the middle of the field on a crisp Monday morning. He reached his long neck all around to graze and caused us to think perhaps he was maimed and lost from the gaggle.  Three days later, three more geese arrived. And then, twenty, forty, seventy and, finally, over a hundred who moved between our field, neighboring fields and the ponds in our park. They court and dance, grovel and stand watch, feed and sleep. Driving along the Colorado River as they come and go in our field, we’ve watched them spread out in their majestic V’s.  Walking up toward Moab Rim one day, I listened as their voices bounced off the walls of the river corridor. I listen for them in the morning and awake with a smile.

 I’ve known that a group of poets and writers here meet periodically but I’ve been shy to invade their sessions, not knowing how long I’d be around.  Trust, necessary to sharing your creativity, usually takes cultivation, testing and daring.  I wasn’t very willing to just jump in.  Until I saw the notice of a fiction writing class at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center, due to run until March. Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel was to guide our work. I jumped in. Susan, the instructor, and four other students were at varying stages of writerly development and it is sweet for we all value the process and are sharing our efforts. When the class ends, we plan to run on as a critique group-something I’ve missed in our troubadour life.

 Late in January, we hiked into Moonflower Canyon, set back from the Colorado which was running red. Petroglyphs with a triangular man, geometrics and assorted wild sheep and deer line the rock to the right. Notched tree limbs have been squeezed into the narrow crevices to the left of them to help lithe, slim ancestors of the Ute and Navajo to climb. And we hadn’t left the parking lot yet! Following the trail past primitive, winter-abandoned campsites, took us over the creek several times. A giant turtle rock sat on the rim, hundreds of feet above us. Barren cottonwoods stood tall or leaned against canyon walls; water runoff had serrated the soil in areas, beating down the new green growth. Our voices began to echo as we neared the end of the box canyon. I expected to see a “Butch Cassidy Slept Here” sign as we moved along.  Finally, we reached the end and found a deep pool surrounded by a jumble of colorful rocks and boulders.  Unseen birds twittered softly in the dimming afternoon light. Peace and beauty were ours and stayed with us through the glorious sunset that had the LaSal Mountains.glowing pink as the sun’s rays melted over their snowy shawl.

Originally written January 2005


Filed under Research, Writing

2 responses to “WINTER IN MOAB

  1. Dear Arletta,
    I always love reading your blogs. This one is so beautiful and evocative, it makes me want to pack up and move out West. Why am I here in the not so pretty East — that is, Middlesex County, New Jersey? For some reason I get writer’s block when I try to come up with a blog of my own. I find I have nothing to say.
    Happy New Year,

  2. Dear Brigitte,
    I hope the New Year brings you joy, good book sales for Dina’s Lost Tribe and a trip to the Historical Novel Society conference here in CA come June. Your lovely words are encouraging praise for sure. I hesitated for years about starting a blog and here I am, with help and a push from friends. As you may have noticed, I’ve been culling past work for starters. After all, we historical fic. writers deal in the past, right? I’ll come into the present soon.

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