Apparition by the Gorge

view northwest from Llano Quemado

Lookng northwest from near our home »Buy This Photo!«

I was out there in that vastness earlier on a hike. The clouds hadn’t rolled in yet with their dragging rain, and I’d taken a different route down this time. Almost right away I spied someone jogging up the trail from the gorge. I hate meeting people on the trail, of course. Number one, they’re in my church, and number two, it feels talking to strangers on the phone at dinner time. But someone jogging against gravity deserves respect, so I stood up straight, relaxed, and prepared to greet whoever it was when he came within earshot.

There was something odd about the figure that approached me—the way he pumped his arms, perhaps, more in front of his chest than at his sides. As we drew closer, I could see he was short and stocky, about fifty, with a dark complexion and black hair combed straight back over his head. I thought he might be Greek or Italian. No hat, no sunglasses, no water bottle. He was wearing a kind of yellow satin jacket I’d never seen before. The edge of a salmon-pink shirt poked out a little from underneath. His pants were black, a light fleece material open at the bottom. He was running smoothly at a good clip and wasn’t out of breath or sweating. As we met, we shared a glance, exchanged hellos, and I could see that he was wearing flip-flops… Frankly, this astonished me. He passed smoothly by, in no alarm or obvious distress, running almost silently. I turned to stare at his retreating form and wondered what I’d seen.

When these things happen, I always remember where I am. A raven can be a shaman on a lark or mission. Brujos and brujas love to play tricks on kids and old dead hippies. Shape-shifters can be anywhere—if you hold this in your thoughts, you’ll notice more! What I saw today could be as simple as a foreign tourist who forgot to lock his car, or as wacko as an alien spy from outer space who didn’t get the mind control quite right.

It was a glorious walk, however. The kind of sunny but cool and dry affair where if you sweat, you never know it. For most of the three-and-a-half miles, I was completely alone. There are bright green tufts of grass appearing on the mesa, and I found bright red flowers in a protected arroyo. A solitary piñon jay startled me by squawking as it shot out from a juniper—I guess it was confused—and by then I’d already forgotten the funny guy in flip-flops and just assumed it was a bird.

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John Hamilton Farr lives in Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. with his classical pianist wife. “Possibly the only place I can get away with this,” he says. As New York Times best-selling author James C. Moore (Bush’s Brain) put it in a review of John’s first book, Buffalo Lights is the work of a man attuned to the world who sees it differently than you and I and writes about it with a language and a vision of life that is impossible to ignore.” John is the author of BUFFALO LIGHTS, TAOS SOUL, ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE, and THE HELEN CHRONICLES. He has been publishing online since 1996 (Zoo Zone, Farr Site, MacFaust, GRACK!, FarrFeed) and blogs regularly here at JHFARR.COM. See also → John’s Twitter profile, Amazon Author Page, video channel at YouTube, and website photos at SmugMug. To email John, please see CONTACT INFO on About page.  

  • kaye April 20, 2015, 7:09 AM

    “they’re in my church” was just priceless! Thanks for a great laugh(so true)!

  • Ian April 20, 2015, 9:19 AM

    There is a wonderful book by Christopher McDougall,
    “Born to Run”, about the Tarahumara Indian tribe of
    the Copper Canyon, Mexico.
    They are known for their endurance running – up to
    200 miles in one session – and run in thin sandals,
    almost like flip-flops.

    Sounds like you may have met one.

    Ian.

{ 2 comments… add one }

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