Empty Spaces of the Word by Leon J. Podles

Empty Spaces of the Word

The six million empty acres of national park, forest, monument, and public land in southern Utah appeal to me when I want to be alone, or at least to be away from the city. My son, his scoutmaster, and I went to Mormon land. After landing in a snowstorm in Salt Lake City, we drove six hours south and ended under clear skies in Boulder, Utah, population 200. Boulder has a country inn done in studied rusticity, with carefully and expensively rusted tin roofs and a hot tub next to a semi-natural wetland. It is a Bobo’s (bourgeois bohemian) paradise.

We came to hike a little into the emptinesses. It had rained in the desert, so we soon discovered the joys of quicksand, in both its frozen and semi-solid state. Our guide tried to get us to remember the sandstone layers by the mnemonic Many Canyon Walls Know No Capitalist Exploitation (let’s see, something, something, Kayenta, something something . . .).

We saw UFO crash sites. One iron formation when eroded looks like carburetors, distributors, lunch boxes, dashboards. No wonder they crashed—who ever heard of making a flying saucer out of iron?—titanium is the last word in saucer models. The petroglyphs clearly displayed non-humans, which must be aliens (what else could they be?).

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Leon J. Podles holds a Ph.D. in Old English and Old Icelandic from the University of Virginia and is a senior editor of Touchstone. His latest book is Losing the Good Portion: Why Men Are Alienated from Christianity (St. Augustine's Press, 2020). He and his wife Mary (author of the Touchstone column "A Thousand Words") are the parents of six children. He resides in Baltimore, Maryland.

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