Thursday, June 30, 2011

Words to Describe the Grand Canyon: Going Beyond the Trite and the Banal

Ask anyone who has visited the Grand Canyon what they think about that great natural wonder of the world and, more often that not, his or her face will instantly light up and adjectives such as beautiful, awesome, great, extraordinary, wonderful, tremendous… will come out of that person’s mouth.

Well, I was at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim earlier this month and it occurred to me that you might be interested to know some of the words that flashed in my mind while undertaking three hikes during the day and a half I spent there in the company of my son. [As in the case of previous posts, I am assuming that you appreciate the power of words that are fresh, out-of-the ordinary, and evocative.] Rest assured, each of the terms below is in the conversational vocabulary of articulate Americans.

-- addictive (because one can’t get tired of taking in the sights)
-- stupefying
-- overwhelming
-- mesmerizing
-- spellbinding
-- stunning
-- a prodigious sight
-- indescribable
-- enthralling
-- ineffable
-- spectacular
-- ethereal
-- captivating
-- kaleidoscopic
-- spiritual, emotional, or a religious experience

And finally, in response to a question that I had had for over ten years -- “For most people, why does the Grand Canyon have a greater impact than any other natural feature on earth?” – I had the following epiphany in the late 1990s, just after a visit to the North Rim: “Looking down intently into that vast chasm of overpowering beauty and mystery, you get the sense that Mother Earth has opened her bosom and is whispering: 'Come, peer into me for this is where you are from.'

© Copyright 2011 V. J. Singal

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