March 15, 2022
By Amba Gale
When I was a child, each year my parents took me to Yosemite Valley. There, breathing in and breathing out the pure air, experiencing the awestruck wonder of a starlit sky, the great granite domes, spires, and cliffs rising sheer, straight up from the valley, I touched Peace. Every time.
Our connection with nature gives us that gift, reliably, sustainably, deeply. John Muir called it “The University of the Wilderness.”
Each year in Yosemite, a natural event occurs in the month of February. A small waterfall, depending upon the snowfall that year, falls from the east side of El Capitan, one of the most renowned climbing rocks in the world. The fall drifts down the mountain, and is lit by the setting sun, if the weather is clear. While water, it also resembles fire in its yellow/orange/pink beauty.
And, when I was a child, each night, from Glacier Point, one mile straight up from the valley, the fire would fall. Literally. All day, a great bonfire was built, and at 9 pm precisely, when all was dark, calls would go up to Glacier Point from the Valley, and down from Glacier to the Valley, that would let us all know that the fire would soon begin to fall. Behind me, on the Camp Curry stage someone sang Indian Love Song and the heart-stopping, breath-catching, outside-of-the-mind experience, ensued.
This year, for my birthday in February, my husband and I went to see Horsetail Falls, the El Capitan waterfall, for the first time. Above is our photograph of that Fall. I also created a two-minute video at Camp Curry, where we visited, as well, from below Glacier Point. If you’d like to “take a listen,” here it is.
And here is a recent poem I wrote of that occasion of the Firefall in a poetry workshop I took, virtually, when asked to write about an occasion in our life we held dear.
While I would love for you to enjoy all of this, I most particularly would love for you to find a way, yourself, to connect with that which takes your own breath away bringing you into the Present moment with delight, and awe, and wonder. Give yourself the gift of accessing your own joy. That joy is, after all, right within you.
By Amba Gale
First the dark,
the cold, except
for all the brilliance
in the night sky, singing
from the light of the stars.
A stage behind me, where soon
a song would be sung, the stage of
Camp Curry: first home to the visitors
of this valley I hold dear.
And then a voice from the woods, down
in the valley, calls high up the wall, calls up
the granite to the man on the mountain, the man
high above, where the fire had been tended all the long
day, long preparing for this event, the event of my childhood.
“Hello Glacier Point,” the man in the woods calls.
“Hello, Camp Curry,” comes the response. “Let the fire fall…”
– the close in call from the woods. “The fire falls,” comes the response from far away.
And then, the music starts. The music of the spheres.
The music of the skies, the music of the fires, the music of the pines,
and firs, the rivers, waterfalls, and meadows, the music of all of nature coming
as the small embers begin to weep their way, down the mountain, the granite mountain,
impossibly high and vertical and cover the stars granite mountain, straight up, up, up.
A trickle at first.
As the music stars
quietly to build behind me
the fire falls down the cliff
expands in its fall: the yellow glowing
waterfall, the red glowing fire fall, growing, flowing,
Vertical, a mile high. And soon the embers gather
into a fall as free, as great, as the Great Yosemite Falls, swollen grand,
greeted me down that wondrous valley. The crescendo of the music, the crescendo
of the golden water/fire. A burgeoning of Grace. And my heart, beating with delight,
with awe, with star struck wonder, exploding, into that fire, infusing into that fire, becoming
one with that fall of fire, becoming one with the fir tree nostril infused smells. And the voices
behind me on the stage mingle into one experience of Awe and grace, and beauty, adorning the
The fire falls from its height
The music quiets in the night
I breathe in the sounds and the sight.
the coming sing – along
around the bonfire,
not even the song behind me,
not even my parents holding my hand
are present for me
when I become One
with that fall of fire
from Glacier Point Wall
into the valley I hold so dear.
“Let the fire fall.”
“The fire Falls.”
Still as my beating heart,
into my own wonder
into my own, Grand,