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First arrival

Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche

My lifetime’s journey of place for a book is Bryce Breaks and surrounding areas. The essays are meant to draw others to experiences for a place essential for their lives. The characters and supporting geology are meant to help people find the essence of a special place they call home so they might pass it unimpaired to the future generations.

The following introduction is a draft for a book I began planning 45 years ago but did not plan to write until retirement. Most of my writing efforts for area publications have focused on the Great Lakes Ecosystem but I should find time to complete the book I planned. 

The Colorado Plateau of Southern Utah is a place too sacred to stay and too compelling to leave. It is a place where soul, spirit, and body intertwine with intensity that melds the senses beyond conveyance of words. My escapade has joy, sorrow, love, hate, patience, anxiety, intrigue, defiance, peace, praise, noise, silence, solemn human emotion and logic contained in stories of time in a wonderous place surrounding Bryce Canyon.  

Mined from within Grand Staircase’s rock layers and sealed deep within for millions of years we gather knowledge to decipher with logic. Animal bloodlines and plant sap pumped through eons of animal and plant veins help us unravel mysteries of past and present. Emotion instills love for plateau canyons to share with species nature has not yet conceived. The future provides hope for us to temper with responsibility and pass on to all that follow. The past holds our track record for what we have maintained for coming generations. Will we preserve nature’s integrity for our children’s children of what nature bestowed upon us?

Our inheritance from eons of nature should guide a course to preserve ecosystems for more than just us. Instead we could take an irreverent ride that meanders aimlessly disrupting the integrity of place. My naturalist experiences open pathways to secrets of place and knowledge. They are meant to instill emotional love supported with science and reason. Emotional passion allows reason to succeed in preserving the future from myopic plunder. Reason by itself does not convince. Emotions without roots in experience are easily dismissed. Experiencing place is essential. Words are merely an attraction to superficial beauty and lack the essence of personality. Every place has depth of personality comprised by the stories of its natural inhabitants. Inhabitants of nature niches stitch the fabric of place into a cohesive entity that will unravel without ecosystem care. 

On first arrival I met a life’s destination and for 45 years since I have been enraptured in paradise. Anyone who has fallen in love knows that yesterday is fresh and recent regardless of how many tomorrows come and go. Yesterday’s true love stays fresh and does not recede.  

I first came with tender feet and stepped out of the van as a knowledgeable innocent, but I was still an inexperienced student. Prince’s Plume and Globe Mallow flowers were held high on plant stems floating in a background of deep blue sky over red sand that drew me to their side. The flowers had not been etched in my brain’s wrinkles. Neither was the sudden sensation that bare feet were not meant for this landscape. Tiny barbs scattered from cacti were a sensation transcribed into their own brain wrinkle. It took several patient minutes to extract minute cacti spines from the soles of my feet. 

My first excited encounter on the plateau taught me I needed to the learn beauty and hazards of this land on its terms. Reckless abandon was not the way to explore so shoes became part of my anatomy. Throughout the day it was necessary to remove missed jabbing spines from my feet. The brain wrinkle of flowers and cactus spines remains a vivid memory. Flowers and scattered cactus fragments are part of my first discovery for learning how to become a community member. 

Butterflies are essential for my life and the Becker’s White was a new encounter to complete my introduction to canyon country.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve at odybrook@chartermi.net – or call 616-696-1753.

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