Canyonlands Journal
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Cyber Café

It’s been four weeks since I struck out for the wilderness of Southern Utah. Each day, I've loaded my pack with food, water and camera and headed off to photograph sandstone canyon landscapes and flowers.

Today, in need of supplies, I drive to the nearest town and enter a small café. It’s a kaleidoscope of the senses: new age music, smells of coffee and home-baked goods. The other customers are wearing down-to-earth 70s garb. Crafts and artwork decorate walls and cabinets. A bulletin board offers massage, acupuncture, palm reading and tai chi.

A number of us ply computers. I don’t speak except to order coffee and food, yet I feel connected, as if we solo travelers have each used a different path to find our way to this shared oasis.

Email floods in – messages from friends and a wave of spam offering sexual aids and the companionship of wanton females. It’s as if I'm a 19th century sailor arriving at an island port, receiving mail from home and anticipating the favors of exotic women.

The messages rest in my mind like the flotsam and jetsam found on a beach – glad tidings and troubling news. I’m torn by the urge to rush home to the complexities of everyday life and the desire to return to the simple elegance of the canyons.

desert streambed –
a scatter of debris
from the last flash flood


Published in Frogpond, Fall 2006

Image: Desert Paintbrush (Orobanchaceae, Broomrape Family)