I try to climb to the top of Piestewa Peak each summer solstice — the sunniest day of the year for those of us living in the northern hemisphere. Loaded down with work and deadlines, I almost didn’t make it this year. But, seated at my desk, preparing to get back to work, I recalled Edward Abbey’s advice:
One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am-a reluctant enthusiast… a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive.
What an articulate, well-reasoned and passionate rationalization! I filled my Camelback with ice and water, put on my boots and ten minutes later I was starting up the trail just before noon. About half-way up I saw a bird sitting on top of a saguaro. The white blossoms of May have become the green fruit of June. Some of the fruit has ripened — blood red and juicy, they’re irresistible to desert birds, especially in mid-summer before the monsoon rains.
I’m glad I brought my tiny Canon Elph.
I continued on to the summit, caught my breath and came back down. Now at my desk and back to work I am content. In fact, I love my work. Writing is difficult, but I’ve worked at far worse jobs. Besides, I hiked in the Sonoran desert today and saw white-winged doves eating saguaro fruit on the summer solstice. What do I have, really, to complain about?
Happy Summer Solstice to all.