Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ghost Flautist

Journal Entry Eleven; Ghost Flautist in the Woods

Crested Butte is the host every year of a wildflower festival. It is always held the second week of July. This valley receives a substantial amount of snow each year which contributes to the large amount of wild flowers in their area. They boast to have only 43 frost free days all year. I have seen this valley look like someone laid a blue blanket over the top of it. The Lupine was in full bloom that year with their lush blue/violet blooms everywhere.
There are a large amount of organized hikes at this festival, with very knowledgeable people teaching about every aspect of wild flowers.
One hike we did this year was to Lily Lake. It began about thirty minutes out of town toward Edwin Lake. This hike follows an old logging road. We saw almost every species of wildflower along the way. This road is very shady and has a continuous supply of water from a small stream that follows. The combination of altitude, sunshine, and water provide wondrous wild-flowers. This year, there were sixteen people on this hike. One of the ladies we had hiked with the previous day. She looked like she was Native American descent. She had shared with us that she was a herbologist. We learned a lot from her. She told us she would be on the Lily Lake hike with us the next day.
This lady brought her “partner” with her to the Lily Lake hike and just introduced him to us as R.C. He also looked like he was a Native American. He was a tall man, long black hair pulled back in a ponytail, hiking boots, long pants, jacket, and a cap on.
The Lily Lake was across a high country field. There was no path and we could not see the lake until we were almost right at the edge.
There were beautiful dark green lily pads with yellow pod-like blooms. I was standing at the edge taking pictures of the lily pads and saw two small creatures swimming at the edge.
They were about three inches long and looked like tiny eels. I guessed they were leeches and the guide confirmed that they were. She said they laid their eggs on the underside on the lily pads. They are very slim until they start sucking blood, then their slender eel-like bodies expand with the blood they suck. We sat under the shade sitting on a fallen tree eating our lunch. The mountains and the lake were in our view. One of the girls said “If I ever get to heaven, this is what I picture it to be”. We all voiced our agreement. Suddenly we heard a sound that sounded like the rarely heard sound of elk bugling. I asked my friend if she had heard it and she verified that she had. Then we heard the sound more clearly and it was music from an Indian flute.
All of us were confused because we were on top of a mountain about 10,500 ft. We did not know where the music could be coming from. The lady who hiked with us the previous day, very shyly informed us that that was her partner in the woods playing his flute.
He had disappeared as we were eating lunch. She then, under duress, told us that her partner was actually a famous American Indian flautist named R. Carlos Nakai. My hiking partners were gasping and excited to learn this.
She asked us to not say anything to him as he was on vacation and was a very private man. We sat in silence then, and received the incredible sounds of his flute. The addition of the flautist playing in the distance added an incredibly un-predictable element to our vision of heaven.
I have always felt closer to a supreme being while hiking in the midst of multi-colored wild flowers in the high country. This man’s surprising sharing of his talent in this setting was a treat indescribable.
My friend walked with him as we descended and had a small conversation. I could hear his soft, high pitched voice as he spoke. He chose his words as carefully as he chose his silent footfalls.
Their conversation, she told me, was about balance in nature. They both spotted what they thought was a red-tail hawk.
He said that the eagle actually sounds like a chicken; clucking. Movies in Hollywood use the sound of a hawk for an eagle. He said that the eagle was a powerful, beautiful bird and in the great balance of the earth it would be out of balance if it had a powerful voice. Therefore it was given a clucking sound like a chicken. I have thought about this balance in nature a lot since then. There are a lot of examples of his observation, such as, a lovely rose, with thorns, men and women, ying and yang, alpha and omega, peanut butter and jelly, etc.
I don’t think R. Carlos Nakai knew that the mountain breeze had carried his music to our ears, so I would like to say “Thank you” to him for sharing his great gift with us that wonderful day in the Summertime Mountains.

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