Monday, July 31, 2006

The Swirling Garden

Near the end of my week of Arizona sun,
we stopped for lunch in Sedona
at a small shopping village.
In the midst of it was a garden,
a shop selling great swirling metal yard art.
The relative cool of the garden
and the gently swirling forest of windblown creations,
soothed my sunburned spirits,
and gave me sense of peace.

My own small vegetable garden
creates this same sense of calm
at the end of a hot day.

Even as I pour sweat, weeding,
planting, pruning and harvesting,
the green of the plants
and the cool of the earth
restore my humor.

And while I own no giant modern windmill art,
the leaves dancing in the breeze
and the hummingbirds giving one another chase
give me all the creative movement I need.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Hard Sell Cowboy Museum

Sedona is a beautiful place.
Red rocks towering all around the town,
visible everywhere you go.

These majestic formations
have served as backdrop for countless Westerns.

After our relaxing Mexican dinner,
we walked around town,
and headed for the free Cowboy Museum.
I was looking forward to learning more
about the movies filmed in the area.

Instead, I was ready to chew red rocks
by the time we left.

The man behind the counter seemed friendly at first,
engaging us in conversation about our visit.

Then he gradually shifted from light conversation
to full tilt interview.
"What sort of work do you do?"
"Do you own a time share?"
"Why don't you own a time share?"
"Are you girls married? You here with your husbands?"

There was a lot more to it, but you get the general drift.
It seems it wasn't so much about the cowboy movies,
as it was selling the time shares.

I don't know how much of it was sales,
and how much of it was cultural.
I was raised to understand you didn't press people
for personal information.
Southern manners eventually disolved,
and I found myself walking out of the Cowboy Museum,
while the cowboy himself was still trying to engage us
in persistent and nosy conversation.

He acted offended, as if he didn't understand
how we could be so rude
as to walk out while he was still talking.

It ticked me off to be presented as the rude party,
when all I wanted was to stroll in,
look at some pictures in quiet and leave.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The End of a Long Hot Day

At the end of a long hot day
at the end of a long hot week,
there is nothing like sitting down
to a big glass of ice water and a quiet meal.

Did that tonight after two weeks of mad rush.
Been working hard...during business hours
and on into the evening.
Tonight had potatos and beans fresh from the garden,
cooked up just right.

Reminds me of a night on vacation,
after leaving the Grand Canyon,
driving through beautiful Oak Creek Canyon,
and ending up in Sedona.

I took a nap in the air conditioned hotel room,
just to try and catch my breath,
then went to a two-story Mexican restaurant
right in the middle of downtown Sedona.

Took these pictures as we sat on the balcony
in the relative cool of the evening (back in June)
and waited for the yummy food to come.

'Twas an amazing view for a restaurant.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Managable Pieces

The trick to hiking in the Grand Canyon
is remembering that the last half of the hike
you'll be going uphill.
In my local mountains,
the heart-pounding climb comes first.

The uphill can be fun.
I rested every few steps,
stopped to take in the ever changing view.
Concentrated on being there
rather than getting the hike done.

It was sunny on the way up
(as opposed to the cool rain showers
during our downward trek).
It got a little hot, but there was a small patch of shade
after every stretch of the legs.

We, like other travelers on the trail,
soon learned that shady spots
made excellent places to take pictures
and admire the general view.

I'm reminded of one of the formative stories
that has guided and shaped my life and living.
It came from a Madeleine L'Engle book.
She told of a boy who was sent by his uncle
to clear a field by hand.
When faced by the field, he felt overwhelmed,
and curled in a ball and went to sleep.
Day after day, he came to the field,
became exhausted by the thought of the work ahead,
and slept.
Finally the uncle came to check his progress.
Catching the boy in his nap, he told him,
"If each day you had cleared a space the size you slept upon,
the field would be half cleared by now."

Or to quote one of my favorite movies,
"Small steps, Ellie. Small steps."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Spiritual Life of Squirrels, Part Two

Can a squirrel feel awe and wonder?
While most squirrels we met at the Grand Canyon
begged and chattered, stared us down
with frantic neediness and desire for human food,
we met one squirrel that was different.
While touring the rim of the canyon,
we came upon this little fellow,
sitting quietly, comtemplating the vast space before him.

He never turned away from the sight,
not even when I moved from camera angle to camera angle.
He didn't move a muscle
when snack laden tourists began to gather
to look at him looking at the canyon.

He'd found his peace.
I wondered what went through a squirrel mind
when faced with such grandeur.
While I think he was nibbling on an acorn or nut,
(even an enlightened squirrel has to eat)
he was just so peaceful on the edge of the abyss.

Too often we race through life,
when there are miracles all around.
Take a lesson from the fuzzy squirrel to stop
and take it all in.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Spiritual Life of Squirrels, Part One

The squirrels in Arizona
are pretty...grey with speckles.
They seem to thrive most everywhere:
in the Phoenix heat,
around the red rocks of Sedona,
and all along the Grand Canyon trails.
This one volunteered to have his picture taken
...and then offered to climb my leg
to shake me down for food.
I reminded him that he is a ground squirrel,
not a shoulder squirrel.
He didn't actually make the climb
up my tall frame,
because I stomped and yelled in discouraging ways.
But he certainly thought about it.
The Grand Canyon squirrels,
for the most part,
are panhandlers and beggers.
Too many people have ignored the posted signs
and have shared their sandwiches and snacks.
Now the squirrels live to beg.
They exude a constant sense of need and want.
"Feed me feed me feed me feed me,"
say the hungry little beady eyes
as they stare intensely at you.
"Feed me feed me feed me feed me."

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Always Use an Antecedent

The end of our mile and a half hike
on the Bright Angel Trail
was marked by a small restroom,
very conveniently placed.
It was here that we turned around
to head back up to the rim of the Grand Canyon.
Before we turned around, I looked at the beautiful view,
handed off my camera,
pointed vaguely toward a beautiful rock formation,
and said, "Take my picture in front of that."
After some general counting and smiling,
I took back the digital camera
and looked at the picture.
"What? That's me in front of the restroom."
"Uh huh."
"I wanted my picture in front of the rock formation."
"I thought you wanted it in front of the restroom."
"Why would I want my picture in front of a restroom?"
"Oh, I thought you wanted proof you made it
the whole mile and a half."
I pointed more specifically
and used clearer descriptions
before we took the picture again.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Big Horn Sheep Fun

So we're hiking along,
minding our own business,
when suddenly we saw
something strange
to the left of the trail.
Right below us
stood a big horn sheep.
He ignored us completely.
But my, what a tasty shrub.
You can see where
Star Wars found inspiration
for some of their
alien head decorations.