Yesterday my brother David Crook and I reveled in the stark beauty and promise we found at McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Scottsdale, Arizona. Too early for the carpeting of brilliant wildflowers and cactus blossoms, we still knew we'd find subjects for our cameras. And we did. Mostly desert driftwood and dying trees. We rejoiced in the bleak beauty of the fallen (and falling) trees and cactus, fully aware that they were God's gift to us on that day, and at that time. After lunch, we went to our homes to view and edit our pictures. And began placing some of the best on Facebook. "Guess you have to be there...really trying to appreciate the 'beauty' here...see a lot of dried up, prickly old things that I'd walk from the garden to the compost bin with..." said one of his friends on his Facebook page. And she's absolutely right. It's all about perception and attitude. The compost bin isn't a place of endings. In a sense, it promises new beginnings, doesn't it? Now if she'd said "trash," I might have had a different response. One of the reasons that some dried up, prickly old things go out and photograph is to listen to and learn from their Creator. This describes me and David. We can't help but experience our surroundings in fresh, new ways. We "see" with our imaginations, we "hear" with our hearts. We sense and appreciate history as well as the future. The future? How can that be? God is the Supreme Storyteller. And there is no end to the variety of his presentations. Peeking up through the hard-packed landscape were a few bright pink owl clover, lavender lupine, and feisty yellow brittlebush blossoms. Plus the occasional sage-green coffeebush. A lavish carpet preparing to burst into full bloom at the right time. Promise. Even hope. By the time we'd finished shooting and headed to Fountain Hills for lunch, we were, in perhaps a strange way, satisfied with what we photographed and saw. Like our grandmother, Sue C. Boynton, who wrote this poem (Old Tree) in the mid-1900s: Lord, let me learn from this old tree That there is dignity in loneliness, Beauty in broken branches, Strength in twisted, storm beaten torso. Help me to understand that underneath, If roots go deep enough, No storm can wreck the life That from them reaches to the sky. Help me to remember To stand Where God has placed me. I appreciate David's friend for the realistic reminder that a compost bin is not just an end, but a promise of new beginnings.
Monday morning, my brother, David Crook, friend Martha Retallick, and I, went to the Phoenix Zoo. We had a wonderful time. Retallick recently published a book, Bike-tography. "When I was in my early twenties," she says, "I set the goal of bicycling through all 50 of the United States. I accomplished this over a twelve-year period, traveling more than 15,000 miles in the United States, plus a bit of Mexico and Canada." These days she lives in Tucson, where bicycling is a huge culture, and she covers many events, bicycle and other, by using her bike as transportation. I'd hoped to show her the Komodo Dragons, but they weren't visible, so we went off to see what else we could find. We discovered lots of little creatures in the first part of our trip, since only one elephant was visible and it stayed near the shelter. We finally got to the area where the giraffes lived, which is always fun. Martha hiked around that area while David and I grabbed a hamburger. We stopped to enjoy the brilliant, beautiful koi, then headed back for Peoria.
It's been a good but "different" month with computer breakdowns and seeing tragedy in the lives of people I care about. It was time for a break. Monday my brother and I took a break and drove to the mining town of Jerome, Arizona. We wandered all around, and I felt this was the time to photograph old machinery, vehicles, buildings, etc. We got some great shots and had some good experiences, then headed to Prescott Valley, and then home. Jerome's beauty is obvious...and I hope you enjoy the picture I took (and redigitized) near Ghost Town, which up in the mountains but close to Jerome. More later!
I've been blessed to have some of the most amazing catcus blossoms in my front yard in Peoria, Arizona. Most are in the prickly pear family, with one transplant: a Giant Argentine. See below. It's been a joy to watch the hundreds of bees over the months as they dive into the blossoms and do their pollen thing. Wonderful lessons from nature as I shoot picture after picture. Practice is good.