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~
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~
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