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~
I arose early, seeking to experience the dock in the solitude of a Sunday morning.
Later, there would be boats moored to each side, and fisherman throwing out a line, and honeymooning couples strolling arm-in-arm along its length. But for now it was quiet, content, satisfied in just being.
Sometimes we feel like a dock, waiting for our ship to come in. But the wisdom is knowing that our future is already here inside, waiting to be discovered.
When one has much to put into them,
each day has a hundred pockets. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
It was low tide on a sunny day, and we ventured far out on the rocks, searching the life left by the waves. Hidden in the cracks, just visible here, we found thousands of tiny white mussels, fed by the surging waves that were channeled into the crevices between the granite boulders.
How did these tiny shelled creatures sense that here, and only here, they would be nourished by the very waves that threatened to destroy them?
For every ailment under the sun, There is a remedy, or there is none; If there be one, try to find it; If there be none, never mind it. ~Mother Goose~
Once upon a time, a millionaire of immense wealth decided to retire from business. He built a huge estate and in one small room off his library he kept his hats of leisure: a boater for the concerts given on the Aeolian pipe organ in his billiards room, a jockey’s hat for riding along his bridle paths, and a pith helmet for building the elaborate network of trails to the top of every mountain (there were six) on his estate.
I live in a less formal time, and I’ve owned a different collection of hats. There was the small blue hat-with-a-veil that I wore to my own wedding. A black velvet mortar board (with a tassel of real gold) that I wore to my doctoral university graduation. A hiking Tilly hat that has seen most of Arizona. A gardening hat made of paper which, I understand, will melt when it rains.
The first two have disappeared into the mists of history. The last two I still have, but I keep a close eye when storm clouds gather overhead!
Every night before I turn out the lights to sleep,
I ask myself this question:
I done everything that I can…
Have I done enough? ~Lyndon B. Johnson~
I started the walk before dawn, collecting clouds as I went. Wispy ones darted in and out of the red rock formations; others nestled in puddles after midnight rains. The pine needles had felted into heavy mats that softened the ground beneath my feet. They created soft nests for windfalls of storm-blown pine cones.
The prickly pear cactus were loaded with buds of gray-green fruit that would swell to magenta chalices in the fall, luring families of javelina to gorge on the ripe fruit. I might walk down the road then and see scatterings of red seedy scat.
The Pyracantha were loaded with caper-sized green berries that would turn red later in the year, a bonanza for urbanized deer who would jump five-foot fences to gorge on the orange-red berries.
In the pre-dawn hush, the birds weren’t feeding, just quietly murmuring in the trees like a group of dorm buddies waiting for breakfast. The flies would wait until full sun, but the mosquitoes were active. A red welt swelled on my wrist and I picked up the pace.
As the sun burned the morning air gold, a male cardinal swooped from a shaggy-bark juniper, its feathers a carmine red. In the scrub oak, a nearby rival acted serenely unimpressed.
Overhead, a phainopepla’s black-and-white wingtips flashed semaphore signals as it landed, bending the top needle-branch of a pinion pine.
The dog walkers hadn’t arrived yet, but one skinny marathon runner adjusted a knee brace and jogged painfully down the hill. I waved to early morning construction crews who were setting up for the day’s work. A scruffy bicyclist wearing a military green scrub cap, old T-shirt and cargo pants puffed heavily as he made the hill top. He gave me a grin of co-conspirators, out in these early hours.
I shared the morning with the animals. A calico cat jumped from a stone wall for a scritch behind one ear. A gray Kaibab squirrel gleaned sunflower seeds from the feeder almost too high above its reach. A cottontail rabbit elongated its hops into leaps as I grew closer.
I didn’t have to own anything to be a part of that glorious morning, and yet I felt immensely wealthy.
The whole world spread before me, free for the taking, when I slowed down and paid attention to the gifts the day offered.
This is one of my favorite Sedona memories. I awoke to discover a surprise snowstorm had dumped a foot of snow in Sedona! I grabbed my camera and dived outside, wanting to catch the sun on the snow. What a glorious morning!
“I want to be able to live without a crowded calendar. I want to be able to read a book without feeling guilty, or go to a concert when I like.” Golda Meir
Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel for ten years and active in public service all of her life was described as strong-willed, straight-talking, gray-bunned grandmother of the Jewish people.
She used to say it was a blessing to be born plain; that the pretty girl had a handicap to overcome, because people saw the beauty first, not the person. She also mentioned the lament of all working mothers: when you are at work, you feel guilty about your children at home; when you are home, you feel guilty about the work left behind.
Time, then, is precious. But time to do what? For Golda, it was time to read a book whenever she wanted, or to attend a concert. I like to think a walk in nature may be the very best use of time ever, but reading a good book comes in a close second!
When we are doing what we want to do, whether it is spending time with our children or pursuing a hobby with passion, time slows down to accommodate us. It obligingly stretches and conforms to the task at hand, giving our creativity not only time, but space as well, so that true joy can be expressed.
How would YOU spend your time, if you had enough to do exactly
what you wanted?
Noise is on my mind recently. I’m convinced that we endure too much of it in honor of our existence here on earth.
Sometime it is the raucous chatter of politicians or the screech of advertising pushing aside real words to gain our attention for the mundane. At other times, it may be the scream of fire engines down the street or the roar of the motorcycle taking off.
When this happens too often, we dial down our senses and become numb to our world.
Let me give you an example:
For the past three weeks, city crews have been replacing the sewer lines in front of my house.
And then replacing the water lines and storm drains.
And tearing out the sidewalks with big dozers so that they can be replaced with NEW sidewalks.
When I asked the crew chief how old the sidewalks were they were replacing he replied, “Older than dirt.” I feel a kinship.
Each morning I set the alarm early so that I can dash out and move the car in order for it not to be blocked by the construction. Each day’s construction begins at precisely 7:04am with the beep-beep of yellow machines determined to disintegrate my solitude. Enormous tamper machines vibrate the very foundations of my home.
A blogging friend, Coffee Kat, writes a post about diminished hearing and I can totally relate.
One of my cats hides under the coffee table, seeking asylum from the noise and commotion. The other one sleeps through it all.
Today, though, all was quiet, except for one small bulldozer pushing dirt around aimlessly, like a kid on a playground after everybody goes home. For the first time in weeks, I could hear my refrigerator gurgle. I could catch snippets of my neighbor’s radio playing. A cardinal sang in the tree outside my window. Real sounds, at normal decibel levels. Pure bliss.
Then the noise began again. A man pounded orange stakes in the ground outside my front window to mark where the new sidewalks will be poured. He says the crews will lay the foundations tomorrow, and the cement trucks arrive the day after.
I feel rebellion setting in. I yearn to flee to the tiny Greek island of Budelli, where the caretaker has lived, alone, for 28 years, listening to the sounds of silence. What would that peaceful calm feel like, I wonder?
We need silence in our lives in order to function as human beings. As Wordsworth once wrote,
…Again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.—Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
Without silence and solitude, our souls wither and our spirit diminishes. We begin to tune out what is really important to us. We don’t live, we merely walk around.
Has this ever happened to you? What was the noisiest situation you’ve ever encountered?