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Lions Roar : March 2006
Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche Author of The Practice of Self-reflection on the Buddhist Path Nyingma Summer Seminar July 15 - 23 Shedra September 1 - 3, 8 - 10 15 - 17 22 - 24 , , Varjayana Seminar Four Seals of Existence August 25 - 27 October 6 - 8 www.mangalashribhutLorg 104 SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2006 Wind River Mountains continued from page 40 Grasshopper Glacier broke, spilling 650 to 850 million gallons of water down eight miles of three east -slope drainages, includ- ing Dinwoody Creek where, in the 1700's, the Shoshones made their winter camps. Glaciologists say that these outburst floods are the result of global warming. As the Grasshopper Glacier shrank, the ice dam sank to the elevation of the natural spillway and the lake water carved a new outlet. WIND NOISE IN THE TREES, silence on the moraine, heartbeat loud. Autumn comes. Mountains are the places where the dead reside, where the spirit circum- ambulates, where blizzards go blind. There's a chainsaw whine in the distance; high clouds are sliced open by sun. By September new snow hangs like tap- estries from Fremont Peak. A tarn silvers around my foot; the sky tarnishes. Wind pulls at the peaks: they are geological trees straining for the season's last light. How many octaves does thunder have? Snow and rain take turns swiping meadows and peaks. A sweeping rain is counterpoint to wind - wounds. Migration begins. A bull moose chas- es four females through the timber. Two antelope spar. One is finally turned away and the other collects his harem. Sandhill cranes practice flying in formation. Wil- lows rust in ponds. No water in them: they are dry depressions. Meteorologists say this is the season of Dead Clouds-clouds that drift listlessly over the whole continent bearing no rain. Wind does not play or pressure them. They touch no mountains. A north wind blows Arctic air into place and it stays. When moisture-laden clouds do come, they hang like fish over scalloped peaks, fish that are still swimming. Reeds lie prostrate. The mergansers and mallards have gone. A mirage rises from sun-cured meadows making mountains move: they are root -cut from bunchgrass, antelope, and buffalo. Before dawn, above treeline, in a wide ba- sin surrounded by serrated peaks, there is no light and no color, no weather. The sky has been abandoned. October becomes Novem- ber. A friend explains three Haida words: xhaaydla, alluding to the boundary between two worlds, and the words for feather and snowflake-ttaghawand ttaghun. Today it snows and a curtain falls over the mountain front dividing the cordillera from the valleys, the realms of the gods from the one inhabited by humans. At any time of year when the view from a high peak of the entire ecosystem is occluded, I take the landscape inward and see it with my mind's eye. Yellowstone's volcano fumes and at the other end the Red Desert is a tongue curled up into a desert wall, holding hundreds of thousands of ani- mals in its embrace until spring. But up and down these valleys there are natural gas wells pumping. WIND STOPS AT DAWN. It is December. Day comes as slowly as an ice age, a white scrim that ties ground to sky. Winter does away with the tension between night and day. One slit in the clouds reveals a seam of something incandescent, then closes. We are almost out of light now, and when it does show, it does so sparingly. A brisk wind knocks eyes into the sky but instead of blue, there is titanium. As- pen leaves are shifting heaps underfoot and gray trunks are sticks that wave like hair. A trail leads to ice-polished walls shouldering the whole range. Two ravens tilt and gyrate as they fly by, then they are lost inside the black reaches of a glacier- carved canyon. Snow fills the hours. It is March now. A wolf walks the edge of the timber, itself a place of night at midday. As the storm abates snow flickers, making a kind of fire in the air. The Wyoming Range, the Gros Ventres, and the Winds sparkle. A moose breaks through ice in the Green River and drinks. There is the scent of thawing earth. To see is to stop and look, to love what is before us, and stop its desecration: past midnight white shafts of auroral light beam up; a meteor sails down behind the mountain wall bringing day. .