Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Spiral Jetty and Goodbye Liat

Thanks for your patience, oh gentle reader. I certainly have missed posting, but did indeed need a bit of a break.

My nutritionist, little sister, great friend, and workout partner, Liat went through a very scary and difficult time this last month or so, and is now in Avalon Hills, an inpatient treatment center for eating disorders.

I drove her down there two weeks ago after a very intense month here where she struggled for some sanity. (It has been an interesting year for all of us sisters, as we work on tackling some childhood issues, facing some scary stuff, and beginning to heal. The issues were big, and Liat is brave). So, Get well soon, Liat, we miss you!!

On the way down to Avalon Hills, we stopped at the Spiral Jetty, one of my most favorite pieces of sculpture ever produced. It was made by Robert Smithson in the 70's at the height of the earthworks/anti white cube movement.

Following are some pictures of this... we have more as the light changed off of Liat's camera, but she has it with her, so it will take a bit to get them. It was so astounding, I will post them as soon as I can. One oddity was that having my own photo taken out here seemed so incongruous that you'll notice any pictures of us seem, just, odd.

There is no way to adequately describe this to you. We drove about an hour out on a dirt road towards the Great Salt Lake, near the Golden Spike memorial, feeling already a bit like Alice through the looking glass, as enormous jackrabbits leaped across the road and darted through the sage. The road went on and on, there was not another human to be seen for miles. We drove along, feeling the heat of the evening and the dust from our rental car, wondering what we would see when we finally arrived.

I have seen pictures of the Spiral Jetty, but nothing could have prepared me for the unique experience of actually living it. We came around the corner and saw the remnants of an old pier stretching out into the distance, the Great Salt Lake an eerie purplish pink, the dock entombed in thick white salt, leading to nowhere, the level of the lake water no where near the pylons.

Just a bit further down the road, we spied it, rocks and dirt strewn out in a giant spiral, reaching out into the water, almost submerged. We drove silently up to it, just in awe of what we were looking at.

We got out of the car up on the hill and stood, partially in shock, as the air was completely still, the temperature about 90 degrees, nearly body temperature, and the sound, simply absent.

There was no movement, no animal life, no sound, no stirring of air. The black basalt rocks of the landscape tumbled down onto the salty shore of the beach, a silent, white, crusted landscape. The water met the salt silently, there was no lapping of waves, no ripple on the water.

Because the lake bed is white, and the air so still, as we looked out into the horizon, the separation from lake to air was nearly invisible, giving us the sense that we had been transported to some "other", like limbo, or someone's idea of heaven, or the place where someone gently comes to tell you you are dead, but you realize its not that bad.

I had helped Liat to buy a singing bowl before she left, so that she could practice meditation while she was away at Avalon, it is an enormous hand hammered brass bowl, and she got it out of the car and gave it to me. Up there on the hill, feeling strangely out of place, confused and yet connected in an almost womb-like way to this alien landscape, I played the bowl, and felt as though I were falling into the sound, being absorbed by the bowl, as the only noise seemingly on the planet was coming from this throbbing, vibrating brass vessel.

I don't know how long I played, but when I looked up at Liat, she was rapt, and I felt... shaken, as though I had touched something I didn't realize was touchable. The sun had begun to sink, and I was grateful to be sharing this experience with Liat, not needing to rush, just able to savor the strangeness one moment at a time. We wandered down onto the shore and found evidence of creatures before us, a giant bird feather partially entombed, a footprint from who knows how long ago.

As the sun sank, the water turned scarlet, the horizon vanished more completely, and we began to walk slowly out onto the spiral. Such a strange experience to wind in a circle, walking and walking but never really getting anywhere, as the sky changed color, and the temperature stayed the same, and the wind, just a breath, began, and simply steadily intensified as we made our way to the center of the spiral.

We stayed in the center, where the last ten feet was submerged under cherry colored water, a pink and lavender stain spreading all around us, for quite a while, Liat played the bowl again, and we just sort of marveled at the oddity that was our experience here, realizing fully that it could have been so different on any other day, if there were other people, if the air hadn't been nearly body temperature and still, making us both feel larger, more expansive than we really were.

We wandered back and drove through the Utah canyons to our hotel for the evening, still locked in the spell of the Jetty, (we followed a red fox out of the ranch along the dirt road for about 1/2 a mile, he was hunting a small owl who was flitting around, teasing him). The rabbits were plentiful, bounding through the sage and along the deserted road. We felt like we were driving for hours on a treadmill, and finally, civilization.

The next day, we checked Liat into the facility, and I began the long drive back to Bozeman, looking forward to two days to prepare for the 13 hour drive to Mt. Hood and training camp. But I already missed her, like I had had a limb removed. We had been through so much together, in general, but especially in the last month.

I tried to explain to Tom as I drove home the tremendous feeling of experiencing the Jetty, but there really is no way to tell this to someone, it was like nature's acid trip, a total separation from reality... "That sounds cool, babe." Well, yes... but...

Its still there. If you go to Salt Lake City, you should go see it while its still above water. (It was submerged for over a decade).


The Catharine Chronicles said...

Welcome back, Kate, and the best of luck to Liat. I can't wait to see the pictures.



Charles said...

glad you had a great time.
i'm looking forward to your pics, but i don;t see any on the site yet

a said...

Hi, guys
i am not sure why the pics aren't showing up, there are several posted here, and more to come from Liat's camera.

The only thing I can think is that you are viewing Blogger through Internet Explorer, which sometimes has trouble seeing the pics correctly. You might try downloading Firefox, which has less bugs and views pics better.

Please let me know if you can't see them tomorrow.

The Catharine Chronicles said...

Finally got home and got on the Firefox. All I can say is... ooooo... aaahhhh.... I think you're right, though -- there's no way photos can capture the actual vision. Beautiful.


a said...

Thanks, guys. I have more photos from Liat, pretty amazing. Get out there if you have a chance!