But Here In America

It’s heartbreaking
That so many hundreds of millions
Of people around the world
Are desperate for the right to vote,
But here in America
People stay home on election day.
Moby

This joy of photographing Flagstaff Arizona Murals and sharing them with you  appears to be unfolding as an occasional series. Traveled up Oak Creek Canyon where the creek-side trees are just catching the eye to signal the Foliage change has begun, but still leaning towards green. Everything is fresh and clean from recent rains, and the fire risk has lowered. There are apples for sale at Slide Rock and Indian Gardens, and the best cider ever.

The Sound of Flight, this month’s  photo essay is located on the east wall of the Orpheum Theater above Aspen Street, in Flagstaff Arizona. It is expansive, a great big bursting with color and detail, two stories flowing into one beauty of a painting.  Claimed to be the largest mural in the state of Arizona. A two full years to plan, finance, and create by Sky Black and the Mural Mice,  R.E. Wall and Margaret Dewar.  So much talented creativity joined and expressed through 150 gallons of high end acrylic paint, millions of brush strokes, on a four thousand five hundred foot space. Yes, that is individual brush strokes.

The opening portion of the mural completed in 2014, shows a large grand piano , it’s top thrown open and many species of birds surging out from the inside, then on into full flight across the wall. The choice of beginning with a grand piano on the  Orpheum Theaters exterior  acknowledges it as a place of performance and the arts.

Sound of Flight- Sky Black and Mural Mice- Autumn 2018

The birds flow out of the piano as would musical notes, and as I stood at a distance gazing, I could see their movement and flight. Up close every perfectly proportion detail adding to the flock. A symphony of birds.

In 2015 a second portion was added, again with the continued generous support of the Flagstaff Community in support of public art for everyone.  There is  Michelangelo’s “David” accompanied by the Lady In Red Muse as well as many small details that are personally significant to someone in the Flagstaff community whether as a sponsored ‘in memory of’ bird or actually painted by a community member.

“The Thinker”  leads the eye on a journey into the Canyon Lands on the southern edge. The gray wolf featured is  Echo, found in the Grand Canyon, part of the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project.

There is humor, irony and mischief within the landscapes, and I will leave it to you to find them or create new ones for yourself. There are some images that for me are just plain whimsical and wonderful.

“Sound of Flight” Flagstaff Arizona, USA- Sky Black, R. E. Wall, Margaret Dewer-Autumn 2018

If you are traveling towards or through Flagstaff Arizona, or if you are living close enough by and have never taken the opportunity to view “Sounds of Flight” it is  definitely worth a walk about to see this stunning piece of artwork. Two other murals in Flagstaff I have written about:The Mother Road: Route 66,  Nothing Is Inevitable Here,

Thank you to the Artists, The Flagstaff Arts Council the Flagstaff Business Community, as well as everyone who helped make this beautiful mural available to the public, to be enjoyed by everyone.

A safe, peaceful, prosperous, and creative month of November to each and everyone of you. Your showing up and support of my website JoHannaMassey.com is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Music: Everybody Wants To Rule The World- Tears for Fears

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It Was Impossible To Tame

“It was impossible to tame, like leeches.”
Lemony Snicket, Who Could That Be At This Hour?

Montezuma Well Arizona USA- Autumn 2018- Photo: JoHanna Massey.

Montezuma Well National Monument is full of leeches. Leeches are aquatic or terrestrial annelid worms with suckers at both ends. Many species are bloodsucking parasites or predatorsThousands of them writhe deep in the carbon dioxide heavy  water of Montezuma Well.

Scorpions, Snails, Amphipods and Diatoms  thrive here too;  safe in sunlit water, just below the surface. The  Diatoms are one celled plants feeding on that Light. The Amphipods, the evolutionary link between producers and predators, feed on the Diatoms.  The food and safety of the light fails both at dusk.  The Leeches rise to the surface of the water together, embrace the blackness of night,  and  gorge on the Amphipods.  At dawn the leeches return to the dark depths.  This predator and prey circle of life and death repeats in rhythm with planet Earth’s spinning, tilting, and rotation.

Fish do not, can not live in the waters of Montezuma Well. I would not drink or swim in  the water of Montezuma Well.

There are vents down sixty five feet on  the bottom of the well spewing  5.7 million liters (1.6 million gallons) of  water into Montezuma Well each day, the perimeter of the openings a mislead of swirling sand. The dissolved  levels of carbon dioxide in the water are eighty times too much. Then there is the high level of arsenic.  The temperature a steady 23 degrees centigrade  (74 Degrees Fahrenheit) year round, with the water a deep dark green color.

Though people have inhabited and explored this area for over one thousand years, it was not until 2011 that the source of the water was identified:

North of this harsh high desert that surrounds Montezuma Well is the Mogollom Rim, the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau. More than ten thousand years ago it rained and snowed up on the Rim. The now earth bound water seeped into every porous place of least resistance. Through passing time, miles of distance,  and several hundred yards of rock the rainwater and snow-melt  journeyed, picking up microscopic minerals along the way, leaving others behind.  It hit a wall of volcanic basalt at this location, creating a natural dam that forced the water back up towards the surface.  The roof of a large underground cave now  filled with water eroded. When the cave roof collapsed,  the sinkhole called Montezuma Well was formed.

Water leaves Montezuma Well through entering a long crack in the bowl of the Well rock forming a  narrow cave where the water flows through over 150 feet of filtering limestone before re-emerging from the outlet into an irrigation ditch on the other side. Sections of this ditch date back over 1,000 year. The water and ditches continue to be used today in nearby Rimrock. To me that is simply amazing.

Despite the leeches, scorpions, arsenic laden toxic water, original and creepy bugs and plants, and poison ivy, Montezuma Well is most often described as an Oasis . It is a lushly green, deeply shaded, and devoid of human sound and hurry. The surrounding area all harsh high desert.

For many years Montezuma Well  has held my attention. As part of the history of the area, the geology and ongoing science studies.  Then there is  feeling  of sanctuary and quiet of the place.  I’ve been told the cosmic  veil is  thin here;  reality could slide into another version and time and take me along. So far visiting the Well has remained  a familiar place for  a time out with the Cicadas in full song,  with the sound and light play of crystal clear water flowing out the Swillet, and sunlight dancing off the Beaver Creek flowing right there singing the backup harmonies.

It is believed that people have inhabited this area for over one thousand years. The remains of pit-houses, tools and artifacts in the area indicates the Salt River Hohokum lived in the area around 1050 CE. The Sinagua culture began building the small dwellings in the cliffs around the Well in the 1100’s. Around 1425 the people left the area, their former homes left empty to fill the muse and  imagination of visitors, or perhaps to hold tightly to the details of all that came before.

The descendants of those who lived here who are from the Zuni, Hopi, Yavapai, and Western Apache Tribes still return, all considering  Montezuma Well a sacred place to be approached with respect and reverence. It is said, that once something emerges from the vents at the bottom of the Well, it may never ever return.

Montezuma Well is a National Monument  located in Arizona USA -From Phoenix – Follow I-17 North to exit 293 (4 miles north of the exit for Montezuma Castle). Continue through the towns of McGuireville and Rimrock, following the signs for four miles to the entrance to the Well. The trails are well marked, the interpretive signs along the way excellent, and the sense of quiet divine.  There is no fee to enter Montezuma Well.

If you are reading this in the United States and are eligible to register or are registered to vote:   The 2018 United States elections will be held mostly on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. These midterm elections will take place in the middle of Republican President Donald Trump’s first term. All 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be chosen. The citizens of this country do have the power to return our Government to one that more readily reflects the values, aspirations, and concerns of all the people.  Voting is the way to have your voice heard.

May each and everyone of you reading this be safe, engaged, curious, generous, and prosperous this big month of holidays which is October.

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Music: Marvin Gaye- What’s Going On

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‘Nothing Is Inevitable Here’

Do not despair of our present difficulties,
Believe always in the promise and greatness of America,
Because nothing is inevitable here
Americans never quit.
We never surrender.
We never hide from history.
We make history.
Farewell, fellow Americans.
God Bless You, and God Bless America.
Senator John McCain, Cornville Arizona

Sunrise in Cornville Arizona. Monsoon lingers in the Verde Valley,  clearing the smoke from this seasons  wildfires, replacing it with the smell of the creosote bush, cypress, mesquite, and juniper trees. Though the official first day of autumn here is weeks away, the punch of summer heat is gone, the mornings cool and inviting once again. The hummingbirds that will leave soon, create a worried melodrama at the feeders. Serious consumption for upcoming migration south of the border calorie burn. 

An early morning drive up Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff for a browse around, Thai food, and then coffee at the booksellers. After, a good long look and photo taking time with two very different public murals.

The City of Flagstaff grows more attractive whenever we visit, the diversity and optimism of being a college town is lightly visceral one moment, smart and thought provoking the next. The Public Arts Commission supports and encourages  public art. I  adore the wall murals, am fortunate to have the time and opportunity to photograph,  and am appreciative to Flagstaff for offering them to everyone equally.  Pleased to now share those photos with you:
Victorian Citizens are shown in the “Piano Room”  mural at the  Leroux Street Parking lot at the former Speakeasy Bar. It was painted by Sage, Jill and Dan Drilevich and Ricco Distefan in 2010.

The woman depicted on the left resembles Gustav Klimt’s 1907 portrait called “Adele Bloch-Bauer I.” That artwork sold in 2006 for $135 million. Familiar to many from the film Woman In Gold, starring Helen Mirren.

The second mural  we visited depicts a much different theme and time period:

Mural Joe painted the True Blue mural in downtown Flagstaff that honors some of the aspects of Northern Arizona University and the NAU Lumberjack.

Entire mural is quite striking and each scene tells it’s own story while flowing smoothly into the next.

Located a youtube video of the artist creating the mural.  Provides an inside look in the creating art on such a large scale and unconventional ‘canvas.’

It is family, friends, the arts, music, books, and nature that I seek out to balance the continued divisive and unsettled times globally. Days long media breaks, a catch up with the Sunday Times.  Liberally self prescribing doses of activism on getting the vote out in my own country (America) for the upcoming  Midterm Elections on November 6, 2018. Prescribed in response to anxiety and concern over what my country and yours, our shared global community  will look like in ten or twenty or thirty years from now.  What opportunities, choices, potable water, breathable air, education, and liberties will be available to the Grandchildren coming up into their adulthood.  Mine, yours, everyone’s Grandchildren.

Been taking the camera along, it’s familiar presence a gentle reminder to slow it down and pay attention.  To notice and appreciate the delicious light filled length, variety, expansiveness of a given summer day in the high desert. The photos above are some favorites of the summer,  the slideshow below showing the difficulty I have choosing favorites.

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Thank you for your support and interest in my photo essays. Wishing each and everyone of you  a safe, prosperous, and engaged month of September.

Music: Aretha Franklin:  Think- Natural Woman

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“Some Words Are Wind, Sir. Some Are Treason.” -George R. R. Martin

“Some Words Are Wind, Sir
Some Are Treason.”
George R. R. Martin- A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms

 

 

Been wanting to get up to Walnut Canyon for awhile. Monsoon arrived with enough rain that the fire restrictions on the Parks, Forests, and Walnut Canyon were lifted and……We were out the door, with a quick stop for socks and bootlaces…. then the drive upward,  from Sedona to the top of Oak Creek Canyon.  On the edge, now,  of the Colorado Plateau. By the time we reach Flagstaff we are  six thousand nine hundred and ten feet’s worth of higher than sea level. The air is cool, clear, and crisp. Scented with freshly rain bathed  Ponderosa Pine, Firs, Cypress, and Juniper Trees. Worth coming up here just to breathe the air.

 

Walnut Canyon National Monument is Nine miles east of Flagstaff Arizona, on Route 40, heading towards Albuquerque New Mexico in the United States. Walnut Canyon National Monument offers visitors real insight at the value and importance of citizen participation and a United American Voice in protecting our National Monuments. There is a visitor’s  center, gift shop, two trails to view the ruins, and to get  close up and personal with the Canyon.

 

In the 1800’s it was quite a legal and popular activity to loot the land and stuff of the people who came before them.  Walnut Canyon was rich in the stuff of the daily routines of  former cultures, and many a  individual and group,  carted them off to have impressive conversation pieces in their homes, or to sell, trade, barter, to stash away art on speculation of increasing value, or to display in collections. Much damage and destruction resulted in addition to the loss of the treasure.

Walnut Canyon  is a seductress with it’s depth, textures, the way the light plays and teases, the silence, and the slowly revealed backstory of people, geology, ecosystems.  The treasure. The local people loved the Canyon; were outraged by the exploitation.

They appealed to the United States Government for assistance in preserving Walnut Canyon for all to enjoy, and on November 30, 1915 United States President Woodrow Wilson declared Walnut Canyon a National Monument. To be preserved, maintained, and available to the public worldwide to love, appreciate, and enjoy. In 2016 one hundred and fifty two thousand global visitors came to Walnut Canyon.

 

Walnut Canyon shelters and protects dwellings over eight hundred years old. Tucked along the cliffs, using the overhangs and recesses as waterproof walls and ceilings.  Only a few are pictured here, there are many to view and a very real sense of how large and interconnected a community the people who lived here were with one another.

 

Artifacts from the daily lives of the Archaic people who traveled through the southwest seasonally  Thousands of years ago have been located here in Walnut Canyon.

Sinaqua  (Spanish for ‘people without water’)  arrived to the Flagstaff area approximately One Thousand Four Hundred years ago. They were primarily dry farmers, attracted to this area by the fertile soil, plants, and wildlife. The cliffs were a safe place to  live,  with the women doing the majority of the construction of the dwellings.  The Sinaqua  left the area, leaving behind  many of their homes, artwork, tools, possessions, and household items behind.

 

The dwellings line both sides of Walnut Canyon, about one hundred and eighty five foot down from the top. It allows the mind to open even more to idea of a community of people, and to experience exquisite nature quiet of  the breeze in the trees, the call of birds, and an occasional falling rock.

 

There are engaging very well organized and executed series of displays along the trail. Worth reading and considering.  They fill in the gaps of  detail for the imagination to create a rich and full vivid imagery of what a day looked like from where I am now stand now, on the cliffs edge. The displays don’t intrude.

 

There are big views, the kind that stop me  mid-step and call my attention in silent reverence to just how big and grand it all is.  Striations on the gray rock above showing changes in the direction of the wind for the past millions years. Simply magic.

 

And then there is the sound of a deep throated thunder growl rolling  down  in the Canyon and coming on fast and close, rushing on past calling out the news of coming weather.

We heed the warning, climb the two hundred forty steep vertical steps to the Rim of the Canyon,  and soon we are on way to Flagstaff for lunch, just as the storm arrives quite dramatically with big sky lightning, thunder, and solid serious rain.

There are currently 129 designated National Monuments in the United States. There is change afoot, seeking to undo a commitment made One Hundred and Twelve Years ago to protect rare wildlife habitat, Native American Archaeological ruin,  unique environments worthy of preservation and/or study.  Historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest coast to coast are at risk.

These are the United States of America’s  best loved and valuable places that have been enjoyed and shared for many generations with the commitment to keep them safe for generations going forward.

Reflecting a change of policy and purpose,  the U.S. Department of the Interior has targeted 27 National Monuments  for ‘review’, change in designation and use.  These proposals  will shrink the boundaries, reduce the protections, and open up permitting for formerly prohibited activities.  Over 100,000 acres of well loved, protected, and valued National Monuments at risk.

I believe that, like the public who spoke up to protect Walnut Canyon so many years ago, that the people continue to value and want protections of their National Monuments. May our voices be heard.

A safe, engaged, and prosperous August to each and everyone of you.

Music: Boz Scaggs

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Sitting On Blisters

“Elections belong to the people.
It’s their decision
If they decide
To turn their back on the fire
And burn their behinds,
Then they will just have to sit
On their blisters.”
― Abraham Lincoln

 

Chose Uptown Sedona for a Summer Morning Walkabout.

It’s cool, quiet, and deserted except for an occasional person preparing to open the doors to display wares and services, or an early morning delivery truck.

These remind me of ” Tewa or Koyala ” a Rio Grande Clown that is often seen in Hopi Mesas. They are known for their boisterous conversations, immoderate actions, and gluttony. I’ve seen these tricksters around Sedona for many years. In fact I saw them in Phoenix on Saturday.

 

Check in on my familiar cornerstones.  These bronzes have graced Uptown for some years now bearing graceful witness of all who have passed by.

With Signage mostly ignored.

There’s the whimsical, the fanciful, and the ironic art.

And way too much signage.

From ‘view’ areas I pause to look at the red rock beauties , exposing some  three hundred and thirty million years of a rip roaring geological story right in my face. They provide me a great deal of reassurance with their familiarity and resilience, yet they constantly remind with their time storied stratum, change is constant. I never tire of spending time climbing over them and along the trails.

But this morning I walk Uptown. Those Red Rock Spirals,  and well funded marketing campaigns, bring millions of people globally to Sedona every year.

It’s very dry this summer with no promise of rain. Stage Three Fire Restrictions in effect.

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The morning moves forward, the temperatures begin to rise. a few stores are opening their doors. Time to go. A lovely  quiet walk about, a loaf of bread from Wildflower, and some photos to share with you.

A safe and engaged month of July to each and everyone of you no matter from where on the globe you read this.

Music: Boz Scaggs

Do Not Tell Fish Stories

Do not tell fish stories where the people know you;
But particularly,
Don’t tell them where they know the fish.
Mark Twain

A simply delightful pause with a walk about, and take away picnic lunch  at Page Spring  Fish Hatchery.

Page Springs Fish Hatchery, named for the Page family that first established the hatchery in the 1930’s, is now managed by the Hatchery Program of the Arizona Fish, Game, and Wildlife, an agency of the State of Arizona’s government. The Hatchery is approximately 190 Acres and includes two parcels of land:  Page Springs Hatchery and Bubbling Ponds Hatchery.  

In 1990-91 the Hatchery was renovated into  a showcase facility featuring raceways, canopies, a visitor center, and a self-guided tour path. The Audubon Society identified habitat at the hatcheries and riparian area along lower Oak Creek as an Important Bird Area (IBA), and it draws thousands of visitors to view the wildlife or like us, a quiet watery respite.

There is a Showpond where visitors are encouraged to feed the fish. Bring quarters, and don’t forget to sign the guestbook. The sound of the flowing water is big in this area and quite wonderful, the pond crystal clear and the fish healthy and enthusiastic. I enjoyed photographing the mural and could not find who had done the work, obviously enjoying themselves in the detail and variety of critters featured.

 

The Visitor Center has an engaging display of area wildlife, including some beauties of bird photography in an exhibit by Audubon, and of course a large volume of information on the Hatchery and fishing in Arizona displayed well and quite interesting.

A few Hatchery Facts:

The Hatchery raises rainbow and brown trout. They grow about an inch per month, take less than a year to reach catch-able size.

Fed high protein diet.

Hatchery does not keep brood fish. They get their fingerlings from Silver Springs Hatchery in Oak Creek Canyon.

The Hatchery stocks around 600 to 700 hundred thousand fish per year, in rivers, streams, and lakes year round throughout the entire state of Arizona. The Hatchery is the largest in the State of Arizona and supplies 60% of the rainbow trout that are raised by State Hatcheries.

There is a short hiking trail, and once you leave the Hatchery you may be interested in one of the many tasting rooms as the area boasts  excellent wineries, the vineyards quite beautiful to behold.

A safe and peaceful June to each and everyone.

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Would You.. Could You.. Hike A Thousand Miles?

“The Mountains Are Calling
And I must Go.”

 

Curt Mekemson has just left on a thousand mile chunk of a hike that begins in Ashland Oregon, travels south to Mount Whitney, through Siskiyou, Marble, and Sierra Nevada Mountains.This is quite the hike, through some of the most beautiful places in America. Places most people, Americans too,  never will see. Curt Mekemson is  an excellent nature writer, with an eye for detail and a way with words that could convince anyone to go outside to play, to explore, to see the beauty of it all.

Author of  The Bush Devil Ate Sam,  I first came across a batch of stunning photos,  the Burning Man Collection, and have been enjoying Curt’s  writings, adventures,  and photography since. His insatiable curiosity for exploring the planet is matched by his wife Peggy, who sharing his wanderlust, high spirits and a fine camera eye of her own, …makes their website Wandering Through Time and Place  one of the best and most interesting websites to savor and enjoy.  A fellow WordPress Blogger, Curt has in turn been a real source of inspiration, support, and contributor of smart comments for my own, JoHannaMassey.com for several years now.

When it comes to backpacking, Curt Mekemson speaks with experience on provisioning, food considerations, resupply points,  and permits that all need to be planned out and reviewed when undertaking a big or small adventure.  Whether a novice backpacker, a seasoned explorer, or someone wanting to see/learn of the back country of America in almost real time, here’s your invitation:

I’m inviting everyone to join me, tell all your friends and family, co workers, neighbors, and acquaintances too. This is a real big deal hike and I am thrilled for my friend. Let’s tag along this next three months with  Curt Mekemson’s Hike of One Thousand miles. I just think it would be so cool, if a million people worldwide, but especially the WordPress bloggers followed along with Curt Mekemson’s One Thousand Mile Hike.

No matter how huge our numbers swell to, how gaily and  daily we tramp along with Curt, via WordPress, we will ‘leave no trace’ behind us, the lightness of Curt’s steps one for all and all for one!

All my best to each and everyone of you. See you along the trail!