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~
One of the fun things about setting a fictional novel in a real locale is that I get to describe favorite places of mine.
The setting for PERIL IN SILVER NIGHTSHADE, Red Rock State Park, has to rank right up there. This park was purchased for a state park about 25 years ago from the estate of Helen Frye. Helen was the wife of Jack Frye who in turn owned T.W.A. airlines, about the time that Howard Hughes was also active in aviation.
Helen and Jack flew over the Sedona area and she fell in love with the Oak Creek vistas. She asked her husband to buy property here for her. And he did.
So when I chose the setting for PERIL IN SILVER NIGHTSHADE I knew it had to be here. I’ve walked all the park trails numerous times and was for a time a volunteer at the park. I gave dozens of docent tours and knew when the wildflowers bloomed, and where to point out the desert varnish on the rocks, and when the bridges went out with the high water of the spring snowmelts.
I’d like to share two YouTube videos with you. The first, narrated by the park ranger I’ve worked with, Keith Ayotte, headlines one of the critters that also appears in my mystery, a black-tailed rattlesnake.
In the second, bear with heavy hiker breathing for a moment or two. Then you’ll be able to see the floating anchors for the wooden bridges on Black Hawk crossing, also featured in PERIL IN SILVER NIGHTSHADE during a chase scene where Pegasus Quincy gets very wet and very cold in order to catch her man. Does she succeed?
Cloud edges in the desert appear sharper, because the air is dryer. A monsoon thunderhead can build in minutes, billowing thousands of feet into the air as you watch, and no two are alike.
A favorite cloud-watching spot of mine is Sunset Point, about an hour north of Phoenix. Here, the overlook vista plunges you thousands of feet to the tiny establishment of Bumblebee below, and then across the valley rises to the Bradshaw Mountains, home of a historic silver bonanza.
Life is surpassingly interesting, revealing, and awe-provoking when we show up for it whole heartedly and pay attention. ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
Sandstone is a soft rock, its edges worn smooth by the wind and summer cloudbursts. The red color is formed by a thin layer of iron pyrite surrounding each grain of sand. But seeing the rock, prevalent in the Four Corners area of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, is no substitute for feeling it.
On a hot summer day, embrace the rock. Feel its strength, its rough-smoothness, its solid core that existed before you arrived and will be there long after you are not.
When you see a grain of sand, you see all possible worlds with all their vast rivers and mountains. When you see a drop of water, you see the nature of all the waters of the universe. ~ Huang-Po
I’d looked forward to seeing the immense rock on the Navajo Reservation near Kayenta, Arizona. I wasn’t disappointed. This volcanic monolith rises over 1500 feet, straight up.
Agaathla Peak, meaning “much wool” in the Navajo language, is so named because of the tufts of deer and sheep wool caught in its sharp rock edges and deep crevices. In the summer with the thunderheads building, there is nothing more beautiful. The eagle was lagniappe.
Then I got to wondering. Had ever anyone climbed to the very top? If I asked a Navajo wise man, he would probably look at me as though I’d lost what few brains I had left and shake his head. “Bilagaana,” he’d mutter.
You’re probably on the right track if it’s uphill.
~ Anonymous ~
This is a commercially planted group of golden barrel cactus, also known as mother-in-law cushions. I know this because no self-respecting barrel would choose to grow this close to another, just like a wise mother-in-law (without the thorns)!
Barrels have a single blossom in the spring. You can see the remains here. What I like is their representation of both the short-term represented by the fading blossoms and the long-term potential of life. Living beings often grow slowly in the desert, taking time to put down roots. Under the right conditions, barrels live to be over a hundred years old.
These cacti remind me that we do not need a reason to exist–sometimes it is okay to just sit there and look beautiful.
Observe the space between your thoughts. Then observe the observer.
~ Hamilton Bordeaux