Post-AKID? More Snake River Canyon memories

NOTE: I’ve now given the seemingly prolific “AKID” (“Ann Kreilkamp is dead”) its own page. All the relevant posts there, in order.

Two memories stick out here. One of them repeated, over and over again, each time Mitzi and I drove up the extremely steep grade to get out of the canyon after playing in the blue waters. Each time, it felt like death held us in its grip. Would the old car make it, or would it inexorably slide backwards, hurtle over the edge on that notorious hair-pin turn that, once again, we had only barely successfully negotiated.

Looking back, I’m surprised that I dared to dare death each time we went down there into that deep paradisical, still semi-wild cleft in the middle of the southern Idaho sagebrush desert  then in the process of converting to farmlands (and has since been paralleled by I-80).

Oh! Another memory surfaces, and another, and another . . . All of the spectacles awaiting when one descended into this Plutonian realm. Here’s a locally famous one: Shoshone Falls, said to be “higher than Niagra.”

Of course, both Shoshone Falls, and the public park at Twin Falls (another falls in the river) were places where my and other families would join for evening picnics.

Another, and this, for me, goes back to my 30s, when I was again living in Twin Falls. Hikiing to and swimming in the then hidden (but not blue) ponds near Dierke’s Lake, east of the bridge. BTW: I hear that this rim is now dotted with homes.

Back then, fresh from my loving divorce with Dick, and freed up to follow my path rather than be socially presentable as the “wife of the editor of the local paper,” I had decided to  to rile things up in this, my home town, socially dominated by varieties of Christian religion, including and especially, Mormons. What did I do?

I started my own publication, OpenSpace, aiming to attract all the dissidents in the region and giving them a space to play. Here’s a photo of the first cover, from September 1978. Framed, it now hangs on the back wall above the toilet.

Back then, in 1978, in sleepy Twin Falls! Yes, the weirdos did come out of the woodwork, in force! Including this cover artist, then a stranger who just appeared at the door with this beautiful drawing of the Magic Valley in hand! And including another then stranger, a farmer who backed up his truck to the door, hauled out a 50 pound sack of beans, and commented, laconically, “For the soup!” (which I kept simmering on the stove, all day, every day).

All of which, over time, started to “go to my head;” yes, I became a bit besotted with my own local  alt-celebrity.

Which meant I had to be taken down. Again. It had happened before, at New College of California, where I had gone, triumphant from having actually outmaneuvered Boston University philosophy department to actually grant me the Ph.D. in philosophy, despite, as my teacher lamented, “You are asking us to certify you as one of us, while kicking us in the chins!” Another long story. Let’s just say here that that early victory did indeed “go to my head” and my year-long sojourn in 1972-73 as a teacher — at that young experimental college then located in Sausalito —  went from initial triumph to total disgrace when I was “fired” as “too experimental.” Yes indeed, yet another long story!

Okay, so let’s return to the time of OpenSpace, and its aftermath. I had been running the publication for two years, and was already getting restless. To my mind, I had to present myself as “perfect” in my followers eyes, and so would smoke my cigarettes only in secret. This little secret of mine, and my loathing for myself as a person controlled by a bad habit, would, in a few years, actually transform — a story which again involved my evolving relationship with the beautiful Snake River Canyon. All of which makes me wonder if my fascination with Death (since childhood, when I unsuccessfully begged my doctor Dad to let me in to see an autopsy) and Descent (the story of Inanna’s descent to meet up with her dark sister Irishkigal) were mysteriously, geographically echoed in the very fact of living so close as a kid to a mighty canyon cleft with a river running through it.

Yes: even where a flat, bland surface may appear dry and arid, wrench open the rock walls, and what appears below? True for places. True for humans, too. There’s always much, much more than meets the eye.

Meanwhile, I’m going to skip over the story I was originally going to tell, about my meeting with a Plutonian figure at the end of two years with OpenSpace, a “bad man”  —and the year it took to extricate myself from his angry, alcoholic swoon. That story deserves more, much more, as I see my dangerous journey with Phil as indeed perhaps the most crucial to my own evolution, teaching me, finally, at least at some level, to pay attention, and NOT be so impulsive, nor so blithely assured that I could heal another! Huh? I couldn’t even heal myself. At least not then. It took another few years before I wised up, and turned within.

Yes, most crucial to my own evolution is the full story of my Dance with the Death of my treacherous “bad habit,” cigarette smoking. For all the years I did smoke (constantly, incessantly, up to two packs a day), I knew that unless and until I “quit,” my life would be continuously undermined. That in order to actually set up a foundation for authentic aliveness, I had to stop. And so I did. Finally. Back when I was 40, thanks in part, to the Snake River Canyon. You might be interested. Here goes.

How I Stopped Smoking (for what its worth)

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