Saturday, April 2, 2016

Fun, Fear, Fascination

How is it, that fun, fear, and fascination are so closely linked? As a child growing up two movies left nightmarish imprints on my gut:  The Rains of Ranchipur and The Devil at 4 O'Clock. While watching The Rains of Ranchipur with my mother and little sister, I felt the grounds shake as the volcano erupted; witnessed the earth opening up and bodies of hundreds of innocent people falling to a cavernous death; screamed as rains washed away villages and ripped concrete bridges to shreds.

Boulders in Texas Canyon, AZ
Now I walk through boulders that once exploded from the earth's surface, but still fear the ground opening up and sucking me downwards.

Sometime after that mother tried to calm my imaginative mind by telling me that the reason she and my father left California after I was born was because an earthquake knocked me off the bed, and I banged my head on the floor! We'd be
safe back in Oklahoma or Kansas, she explained. I can only laugh now, as Oklahoma ranks as the state with the most earthquakes per year. To date I've only felt one of them.  

As for The Devil at 4 O'Clock, Spencer Tracy tried so hard to save lives that I cried for him, but still I shook at the thought of a volcano erupting and lava grabbing my ankle and burning me alive. "It is hard for a man to be brave when he knows he is going to meet the devil at four o'clock," is the proverb from which the title came.  When Mt. St. Helen's erupted I was transfixed to the television shots, but couldn't understand why those watching weren't afraid. Fearless or just curious, what led them to stand, to take pictures, to think that they could stand up to nature? 
Why do we stand outside and study the clouds for tornadoes? I think there is just a tinge of fear, but the fascination overrides our senses. 

Mojave Desert
Fascination with nature resides deep in my soul, along with the fun and adventure of traveling. My first touching recollection of rocks, deserts, mountains, and volcanic eruptions came on trips to Arizona and California in the 1950's. I kicked a dead tree at the Petrified Forest, not believing it was rock; we walked on the hot sands and rocks probably wondering too close to the
Petrified Wood
cactus; picnicked on Route 66 near Flagstaff and smelled the mountain pine trees as the cold winds drifted down the hillside. My dad assured me that we were safe from the now extinct volcanoes that created so many of the mountain ranges.  I didn't believe him. Still it never stopped me from walking near the edges, peering over the precipice, or touching the rocks, trees, and the prickly cactus. 

We drove our children through the National Parks of the western states, and felt with them the eagerness
Sequoia Trees Katy, Letty, Matt 1985
to explore, but then I began to observe nature from a different aspect, that of a teacher and parent.  Facts were fascinating, but stories and experience were longer lasting.

Now my husband and I take the time to explore the
White Sands National Park
lands, the formations, the uniqueness of each area we travel through.  Time and good health are giving us the opportunity to explore this diverse continent, for which I'm most thankful.

Ironically, what began as a story about the Sky Islands of Arizona, led me to read about their unique history and from there my mind began to unravel. The information took me around another corner of my mind. I remembered author Byrd Baylor, and her literally connections to the desert Southwest. But those will be other stories. My mind, instead, settled on a childhood fear that I faced and rather enjoyed getting to know.  

Now, I hope that when we take our Alaskan cruise that the Pacific tectonic plates won't buckle and cause an earthquake and tsunami that will roll our ship. Ah, another fear is shivering inside of me, I imagine having to hold my breath underwater as long as Shirley Winters did in The Poseidon Adventure.

**On another note I'm writing a series of stories on the Imagination for Oklahoma Women Bloggers  in the month of April.  I hope you will click on the link and go read one of those stories. 

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