Fog Chaser
Volume III
On This Winter Solstice
65
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On This Winter Solstice

Exploration 002 | Big Bend, Texas | Vol. III, Issue 2
65

What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote.

—Edward Abbey

Here in Oregon the days are short and dark, so I’ve been sending my thoughts southward — on this winter solstice, I’m exploring Big Bend National Park in Texas.

My wife is a native Texan, and having lived in Austin myself for about six years, I consider Texas a second home. We would drive out to Big Bend every year in November or December, often on our way to Tucson to visit my family, wandering through the bright days and icy starlit nights that define the vast desert expanses of West Texas in winter — a region of arid desolation punctuated by sleepy and hospitable low-lit towns like Marfa, Terlingua, Alpine, and Fort Davis. Drifting in and out of these places felt like living in one of Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy novels — slow, mysterious, quiet.

Big Bend looms large in my memories of living in Texas — I’ve never been somewhere so deep and enchanting. You can go from mountains and valleys to canyons and deserts in a matter of minutes. This month, I’ve been thinking about this remarkable place, and these cherished traditions that I miss.

🎵 This month’s piece is in G major.1

With last month’s piece, we were ensconced, hearthside. This month, we are cast out into the elements, because you can’t just sit on the sidelines your entire life, ya know?

Like the wind that sweeps through Big Bend, this song feels capacious. It’s certainly the longest piece I’ve ever shared here, and the first half of the song is pretty free from any real rhythmic restrictions — meandering isn’t quite the right word, but I really wasn’t too precious about the metronome. The meter was more of a…suggestion. Somewhere in the middle, I lock it into a groove, only to let it dissipate again into the sweep of the wind.2

Ocotillo / Santa Elena Canyon, DSLR

📷 This month’s photos were taken in Big Bend National Park in Texas.3

The main photo is a view of the Chisos Mountains on another winter solstice.4

I invite you to sit with this month’s song, photo, and poem and make them a small part of your day, whether that’s your morning ritual, afternoon break, or your evening wind-down.

As always, if you feel like it, let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you again for being here. Sending my best to you and yours on this winter solstice and during this holiday season.

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A Poem

The Peace of Wild Things

by Wendell Berry5

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


Currently

Listening to

  • I Swear, I Really Wanted to Make a 'Rap' Album but This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time by André 3000 (Listen)

Reading

  • Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (Powell’s)

Sharing

1

On This Winter Solstice / DSLR (Focal length: 28 mm / F number: f/11 / Exposure time: 1/250 / ISO: 400) / Big Bend National Park, Texas

2

Theory note: By employing the Lydian mode at a couple of junctures (raising the 4th degree of the scale, in this case, C to C-sharp), I hoped to convey a little of the mystery and enchantment that one feels when standing in the expansive grandeur of this distinctive geography.

3

On This Winter Solstice in G major, for twelve instruments / Written, performed, and produced by Fog Chaser

4

The Chisos Mountains — the southernmost mountain range on the mainland of the US — are the only mountain range in the US entirely encompassed by a national park.

5

From Openings, Harcourt, 1968.

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