The intensity of an Arizona sunset

Picture of Arizona Sunset

The quality of light in Arizona is intense, and never more so than at sunset during monsoon season. For two summer months, the afternoon clouds build, fierce thunderstorms crash and threaten. Then it is over. Or is it?

As a photographer, I’ve learned to be patient. If I wait out the storm, and stick around for the aftermath, a brilliantly hued sunset often occurs. It is time well-spent.

The end of summer is always hard on me. Trying to cram in all the goofing off I’ve been meaning to do.
~Calvin and Hobbes~

Summer green afternoon

Picture of summer green water

As you drive through Oak Creek Canyon, you’ll see a sign for Ensinoso Park. There, if you stop your car and walk down the hill you’ll find this secret place.

I’ve visited when it is dressed in winter white and fall gold, but nothing is so startling as the passionate green of summer, when the creek borrows color from the moisture-loving sycamores, alders, and ashes that line the banks.

To me, water is the ultimate “yes” person. It says, whatever you want me to be, I’ll be. Hard, soft, liquid, mist. I’ll reflect back your blue skies, your gray storms, your green leaves. Yes! I’m here. Just ask.

Summer afternoon–summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
~Henry James~

My life in a moment

Hawkins Pond

Water has endlessly fascinating, shape-shifting qualities. This pond became the epitome of summer as it reflected the lush green of the lily pads and trees in a smooth, mirrored surface.

I longed to wade in, to splash up to my chest, to feel the coolness between my shoulder blades–especially as this view came after a six-mile hike, uphill both ways.

Perhaps it is because we are born of water and cannot survive even days without it, that it maintains such a primal spot in our psyche. And for a born-and-bred desert rat, that sensation is multiplied ten fold.

Let’s hear it for water, in all of its glorious forms. It sustains us in myriad ways.

Always hold to the present hour.
Every state of duration, every second, is of infinite value.
I have staked on the present as one stakes a large sum on one card,
and I have sought without exaggerating
to make it as high as possible.

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

Falling into presence

The spire at Castle Rock

There once was a flock of white doves that lived in the ledges at the top of the Spire of Castle Rock, near the Village of Oak Creek.

Each morning I would watch them circle the spire once, twice, and then disappear into the sunlit clouds. I waited for them. Their gentle flight set my world in order and welcomed me into the day.

Sometimes moments of beauty can be anticipated, and that makes them even more rich and unforgettable.

When you do fall into presence, you know it instantly, feel at home instantly. And being home, you can let loose, let go, rest in your being,
rest in awareness, in presence itself,
in your own good company.

~Jon Kabat-Zinn~

Dancing in the sunlight

red penstamen

Desert wildflowers are an exercise in impossibility and stubbornness.

They chose where they will grow, often in a mere handful of dirt deposited among the rocks by the spring rains.

And yet attempt to plant and grow these red penstemons, or beardtongues, in your own garden and they often will refuse to sprout, year after year. They rarely can be transplanted. They know where they belong.

We should consider every day lost on which
we have not danced at least once.

~Friedrich Nietzsche~

The tracks we leave in the sand

tracks in the sand

One of the amazing attributes of the dry washes in Red Rock country is that they are used as major thoroughfares when water isn’t flooding down them. Rabbits, coyotes, deer, even a mountain lion or two, travel at night through what becomes a hikers’ highway in the sunlight!

There are so many worlds that we don’t see, alternate realities that co-exist right under our noses and go undetected. This is one.

Words cannot, and probably will never, replace the richness of life–no matter how
articulately or artfully they are conveyed.

~Jon Kabat-Zinn~