The horses watch me motor by, they lift their heads when I stop, kill the engine. The sagebrush is lazy and the road goes where the road goes. The sky pulls air upward, paints it blue, sews clouds and scatters them all over. Notice or not, it doesn't matter. Does a thing need someone to dazzle in order to be dazzling? You can ask the sky, the horses, the sagebrush. There's quiet everywhere, except my motor plinks a little as it cools and a fat fly buzzes. The quiet is saying something.
The Mormon pioneers stumbled down a canyon and into the Salt Lake Valley on a Saturday 171 years ago, and then they cut up the ground and a city seeped up through the dirt, and breweries, which some of the Mormon pioneers would've appreciated more than others. Every July 24 portions of the mountain west commemorate the pioneers with parades and American flags and hot dogs and fireworks, just in case we didn't start enough wildfires on Independence Day.
On Little Mountain Summit, you look down toward the city, there's the smooth highway winding up and down the canyon into which the pioneers shoved oxen and wooden-wheeled wagons through mud and tangled forest and ticks. You can see a hundred miles from up here, maybe a million, up over the mountains, right into all that azure floating way up high. But you have to work tomorrow, so you can't get very far.
The interstate takes you where you want to go, and it takes you there fast. It's a beautiful gash and you run like blood through the dynamited rock and leveled land, then you arrive somewhere and you scab over. Maybe you always scab over if you don't keep moving, keep flowing.
Beside the interstate there's a frontage road, a quarter mile from the big, wide freeway. No one bothered to paint lines on this frontage road, it's just blacktop and grasshoppers. Six-thirty in the evening, summer, I'm running fifty miles per hour on my little motorcycle, you can feel the temperature fall a couple degrees as a tissue paper cloud veils the sun. There's sprinkler mist in the air, farmhouses pulling the little highway this way and that, a sea of golden wheat to the west. The grasshoppers pop upwards, sometimes they're too slow and they strike my ankles. I forget the sharp, straight interstate is there.
In some ways, the world is bigger than the universe. You think of the cosmos and it's too much for your brain, so you shrug and it's enough to just let it be there. But sometimes you think you can handle the world, understand it, force it into submission, pin it down, change it. I'm not sure you can. I'm not sure it needs it.
The highway is empty, it's eight-thirty in the evening, I pull over to watch the windmills twirl. I can't tell whether it's the wind or all the gold the sinking sun is throwing that's making them turn. And they just stand there, spinning.