Odds and Ends

Saw The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Saturday. Much fun, though not something one needs to see more than once. If anyone sees it who hasn’t read the books, let me know–am curious as to whether it’s still coherent without prior knowledge.

Spent Sunday afternoon at the Tucson Folk Festival. The fun of this event is that there’s a huge range of acts, and of quality–but every year, I discover someone interesting and new. This year’s pleasant discovery was Courtney Robbins, a singer/songwriter who knew how to really use her guitar, rather than just having it play unobtrusive backround to her singing. Lots of energy, lots of stage presence. And Larry finally got to introduce me to the now-Canadian group Roth d’Lux, who have energy and polish and presence to burn and make one want to get up and dance.

It was interesting listening to the songwriting as well as the music itself–found myself very attuned to the fact that the difference between boring or sentimental glurge and real music is largely in how specific you are. One or two specific small details go much farther than many generic generalizations, just as in fiction. Don’t tell me the sun rose over the desert; tell me the sun turned the cholla spines to gold or heated up your seatbelt so it burned your hands–that sort of thing.

Monday went hiking with lnhammer and his parents. The Marshall Gulch Trail/Aspen Trail loop was at last open again. lnhammer and I used to hike this loop regularly, but two major wildfires the past three years had burned right through the area, and access was closed off for a quite a while; so we were eager to see how the trails had changed. So we got an up-close view of fire damage: of how fire can burn one tree to charcoal and leave the one next to it green; of how quickly new green ground growth comes in in the wake of the burning, now that the sun can once again reach the forest floor. The trail was the same, but the views were many of them altered, letting us see out to ridges and houses that had been hidden.

Some ridges were covered with matchstick-like dead black trees; others were surprisingly green. At one point, I picked up a piece of blackened bark from the ground, found the inside still brown. It wasn’t the flames that killed most of the trees, after all; it was the heat–many unscorched trees were dead, too, though you could only tell by their brown leaves or needles.

The most lovely thing: towards the end, walking among countless thin aspen saplings, no taller than we were. You could reach out and touch their dark green leaves; you could look fown on them from above, and see the tightly curled new leaves about to open out. Among them, the dead adult aspens still stood, with their thick white trunks and leafless branches stretching toward the sky, no longer blocking the sun, which at times turned the sapling leaves to something near gold.

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