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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#Wordless Wednesday

Stretching Cycles of Years

There was a child
Went forth every day,
And the first object he look’d upon
That object he became,
And that object became part of him
For the day
Or a certain part
Of the day,
Or for many years Or
Stretching Cycles of years.
From: There Was A Child Went Forth. by Walt Whitman

Yesterday was just the best of days: Driving 89N up from the floor of Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona at about 4,500 feet, each climb in elevation  becoming more colorful with oak, sumac, poplar, apple, and cottonwood just to name a few of the trees and undergrowth showing their best colors. Up two thousand feet to the Oak Creek Vista, where tourists were busy buying jewelry, dream catchers, pottery, tomahawks, and newly minted arrowheads from the  Native American vendors. Onward to Flagstaff, the Pondersoa Pines  distressed as the management of the forest creates a day of controlled burns and wide cut backs of mature trees from along the roadway. Through the city we continue to 6, 910. feet in elevation, the air clearing to crispness as we head towards the Snowbowl (11,000 ft elevation) to visit with the Aspens, who were thrilled to see us, shaking about making music, brightly costumed in yellows, and just weeks away from those first days of snow.

I am best myself when I am among trees . Since childhood they have been vital for me, invigorating and sustaining, strengthening, and calming. There is a peace that comes from hanging around with trees.

The Aspens are known for their ability to regenerate growing shoots and suckers from the lateral roots. The trees are identical clones to the original, and ‘members’ of a particular clone can spread over a hundred acres,   Members of a specific clone are distinguished from different clones by a variety of traits such as leaf shape and size, bark character, branching habit, resistance to disease and air pollution, sex, time of flushing, and autumn leaf color. Sounds similar to how some neighborhoods, organizations, clans, nations, and families are organized.

There’s is both a slideshow of photos, and for those who desire a vicarious roll about in autumn leaves, I’ve raked a virtual carousel together of all the days photos for you to enjoy.


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Today’s Music: Jethro Tull- S0ngs From the Woods


For Every Relative Fragment

“There is not a fragment in all nature,
For every relative fragment of one thing
Is a full harmonious unit in itself.”
― John Muir, The Wilderness World of John Muir

In response to WordPress Photo Theme: Harmony

Today’s Music: Elk Song

Oh The Places You Will Go! Sunday Blog Visits

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Good Sunday Morning to everyone. Indeed, as Dr Seuss reminds us,  we all get to choose where we will go. Especially on the internet. Whether you are looking for thought-provoking, challenging, mouth watering, or inspiring ideas,  our fellow bloggers have much to offer.  Here’s a few gems I spent time with this past week:

Much chatter going on about Writing Conferences, and if you stop by 10 Minutes of Words : An Unedited Look Into The Mind of Hayden Trenholm,  you can hear his take on his recent participation in When Words Collide.  Titled  Conversation, he speaks with a succinct clarity about the similarities and differences in how we interact with one another when sitting elbow to elbow in person rather than screen to screen in  cyberspace. Another favorite of mine on his site was The Persistence of Vision, the story of his trip to The Tea Farm, where he meets a young couple who infuse him not only with their home grown tea and edibles, but with their enthusiasm and energy to embrace and make real their goal and vision. What I enjoy about Hayden Trenholm’s site is that he is keenly observant, has an abundance of insight and opinion about a big variety of topics, and he has mastered the art of the word count. Creating short and very succinct posts where not a word is wasted.

Ever wished you knew exactly where the Seven Sisters of Pleides are in all that wonderment of sky above you? Ever considered that you share that sky with anyone who ever lived on this planet and that many created stories and myths to explain not just the sky but life itself?  Get yourself over to La Audacia de Aquiles (Audacity of Achilles: Visible World is Only A Pretext.) Maybe your curious about Sigmund Freud, Centaurs or Zeus’s wife Hera.  This is a smart,  visually stunning, and wonderfully lush website. I enjoy  being there for the well written and researched text and the accompanying artwork.   The site has a wealth of  links and citations.  Literature, Science, History, it is all here and time at La Audacia de Aquiles is an adventure, an inspiration, and an opportunity to grow intellectually. Thank you Aquileana. 

Lynze has lived one of those lives that shouts movie material. She relocated from the Northwest United States to Saudia Arabia,  living with and without electricity, in luxury and out of  luxury. She cooked her way through life there for sixteen years, raising nine children, sharing recipes and skills with people from India, Morocco, and the United Kingdom. She is back in the United States now and has created Lynz Real Cooking. Sharing memoir, photos, and of course recipes. I made the Kufka which would have been a familiar meatloaf except by adding cinnamon, cumin, and allspice in Lynz recommended amounts, it turned the taste to something new. Think it is hot where you live? Read Weather In Saudia Arabia  from someone who lived there.

One of the joys of blogging is the  opportunity to connect with people from around the globe and learn about their lives, lifestyles, culture, and perspective. Between Two Tides offers poems, pictures, and stories from L’Entre Deux Mers France, done with such grace and attention to wide angle time thinking. In Forests of France you learn about the history of forestry practices and the  regrowth of France’s forests, and for me it was the moment of considering that learning to value ecosystems has been and continues to be the global learning curve. Golden Leo Days, offers up stunning photos of summer colors of haying and sunflowers, accompanied by intimate prose expressing universal experiences. Just a lovely, interesting, must follow website.

What unfolds when a high school principal, an Irish Priest, A Southern Baptist Minister, and  An Aspiring Writer play a golf Tournament as a foursome? I have no interest or knowledge of golf and adored The Perfect Game. Or how would your adult daughter feel if you tape recorded your conversation with her as a lesson on listening? Break the Silence says a lot about all of our listening skills.

You might think An Aspiring Writer , after 27 years in law enforcement, might have a difficult time with retirement. Not true.  Claiming that his new lifestyle reminds him of when he was a child having gone outside to play, when not  kayaking, hiking, traveling, this  Aspiring Writer has surrendered to his creative voice. Embracing WordPress wholly, whether with Flash Fiction,  Short Stories, or Photography, his blog flows smooth, entertaining,  and interesting. His  responses to the WordPress Prompts which he is using as warm ups before work on his novel, reveals so much of the light heart and keen mind of a life being well lived and shared.

Like lots of bloggers, Mark enjoys traveling,  taking photos and writing flash fiction. His mission on Coloring Outside of The Lines is not to show us all the popular places we have on our Life Lists, but to take stunning photos of out of the way places, and details of life that we will pass over. Often accompanied with some of his quirky and thoroughly smart  Flash Fiction. Mark wants other bloggers to succeed; creating and participating in Challenges, or through the re-blogging of some excellent reads he found.  And don’t miss his Health Phase.  Pop on over right now and enjoy a cup of his newest healthy brew.

I encourage you to stop in and visit with these interesting folks, and if you like what you find, support them by choosing to follow them and return often.  And let them know sent you!

Peace and blessings to everyone.

Today’ s Music: Boz Scaggs “Lowdown Live 2004”


Oak Creek Canyon: The Equivalent of Churchgoing

My father considered a walk among the mountains 

as the equivalent of churchgoing.

Aldoux Huxley


Woke up with a need for some churchgoing. Headed out to Oak Creek Canyon,  a long time sacrosanct place for me,   a place which had experienced some serious trouble while I was living in the South. The Canyon stretches between Flagstaff and Sedona for about twelve miles of a most scenic of routes.  Oak Creek runs along the bottom, an all seasons flowing  stream and tributary of the Verde River.


Hundreds of thousands of global  visitors come to Oak Creek Canyon, for camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, photography, or their own personal form and need of spiritual renewal. Others pass through traveling to Sedona from the Grand Canyon, or to the Grand Canyon from Sedona, white knuckle navigating the high canyon switchbacks, seeking a pullout to take their perfect vacation photos.


Now I knew it was a Saturday in summer and water is always  an attraction in the desert. And  I knew that Sedona was hosting it’s annual Cowboys Weekend.  I had no thoughts or expectations of anything but sharing Oak Creek Canyon with many others. Even as layperson,  I  knew many people were going to be showing up to get near the renewing water. The analogy of a very well attended service sits well.


The Canyon welcomed me with easy familiarity and recognition, the prodigal   daughter returned.



” Giant’s Mitten or Teapot Rock”
“Camel Rock”
About 9:30 AM catching site of Midgley Bridge. Cars were already overflowing the parking area,  and even along the narrow shoulder of the roadway.


Now I admit to knowing where there used to be some very  carefully camouflaged  local knowledge only  paths to plunge into the baptism of ice cold deep water pools that Big Fish trout shared without fuss or flight. This was before GPS, cell phones, Sharing, and Links, and when these places were under a kind of unspoken local blessing and protection.
By the time we had passed Grasshopper Point and arrived at Slide Rock State Park, named one of America’s top ten state Parks, we realized with a gut punch the our beloved Canyon was in deep trouble again this year, only it is not fire scorching it to ruin.


While many  visitors  paid the fees that help maintain the parks, campgrounds,  and picnic ares, hundreds of vehicles lined both sides of the narrow road up the Canyon, filled the pullouts double and triple parking.


Image result for no parking sign
Over and over, and then over and over once again groups of thirty or more people were  carting coolers, cases, umbrella’s tarps, boxes, fishing gear, babies, suitcases, diaper bags, plastic containers, bar b q’s, strollers, cell phones, inner tubes,  chairs, tables, pull behind wagons,  and plastic bags of ice down the narrow road to the now many public citizen created trails and paths along the creek. It was for me, an environmental Dark Night of The Soul.


 Maybe you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, but like every American, you carry a deed to 635 million acres of public lands. That’s right. Even if you don’t own a house or the latest computer on the market, you own Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and many other natural treasures.

John Garamen

I embrace John Garamendi’s words and believe them to be true. How do they reconcile with the numbers of people coming into Oak Creek Canyon on this Saturday morning in July? The ‘public lands’ they are enjoying do not have parking, trash cans, fire pits, potable water, and most important of all,   they do not have bathrooms.


The designated recreational areas in Oak Creek Canyon, and they are numerous, are designed around the carrying capacity of Oak Creek Canyon’s ecosystem. The carrying capacity being the number of people living and recreating, in addition to all the other plants, animals, birds, insects, amphibians, all living things that can be supported in an ecosystem without causing  degradation.


Standing up at Oak Creek Vista  at the top of Oak Creek Canyon, you could not see one hint  of what was going on below.  It looked as pristine as the brochures and tourism promotions that abound.


How can the Canyon heal from the Slide Rock Fire with so many people flooding in and no longer using the designated recreational areas?  How can this beautiful unique ecosystem survive with even a semblance of health and vitality?
I think first of all, people need to know what is actually happening to  Oak Creek Canyon. The shock, futility and sadness that I felt  at seeing such disrespect for this hallowed area, gave way to my belief that giving up and giving in to it’s demise is not an option. With proper management and respect and a zero tolerance for violating the creek while continuing to provide the recreational areas so many use, Oak Creek Canyon will not only survive but thrive and be available to the next generations.


I encourage you to watch this slice of what the Mornings After look like up in Oak Creek Canyon. What 3,736 pounds of trash, 2,041 pounds of recycles, 260 pounds of feces, 69 diapers, The Oak Creek Watershed Council has made this excellent short film:
                                          Loved to Death


Then get involved. Whether you live in the Verde Valley area, or are one of the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to enjoy or who have enjoyed in the past  the Oak Creek Canyon, let your voice be heard that Oak Creek Canyon should be saved.
Steps you can take:


Practice:  Leave No Trace
Join or support the Oak Creek Watershed Council,
Friends of The Forest or your organization of choice that is committed
to preserving and protecting the integrity of this or any watershed, and is at ground zero with boots on the ground doing the dirty work of cleaning up, restoration, public education, research, and water sampling.


and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce. Let them know that Oak Creek Canyon matters for recreational, spiritual, and economic and environmental reasons.


 And if you are a praying person, now would be the time.
It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
Neil Armstrong

Ecosophy: Listening to Your Mother

No, I did not skip out on my Environmental Science Class at Dartmouth University EdX this week.  Suffice it to say there is enough fossil based fuel sources of power on the planet to allow us to continue to foul our own planetary nest, and challenge anyone’s positive demeanor.

But I also read this article which I found just so intriguing and  appropriate to our blogging community of storytellers.  Embracing the executive editorial power of this being my website, I decided to share this with you instead of a rant on fouling the planet.

Ecosophy: Nature’s Guide To A Better World

The article speaks of the bringing together of studies in ecology, the physical sciences as they have been previously studied, and the wisdom of the earth itself when we as humans learn to listen with an open heart and consciousness to what the planet can teach us.

Those  Listen to Your Mother  moments when you are worried about money and two  eagles dance over your head, the series of seven or eleven in the ocean waves lulling you into a beach nap, or the way that the planet so easily takes back New York City in “I Am Legend.”

Written by Dr. Elisabet Sahtouris   an evolution biologist with Bainbridge Graduate Institute, and a fellow of the World Business Academy. In the piece she addresses the importance of story:

We humans always have been and probably always will be storytellers. Whether we create our stories from the revelations of religions or the researches of science, or the inspirations of great artists and writers or the experiences of our own lives, we live by the stories we believe and tell to ourselves and others.

Story, in the modern world, lost its importance as we assumed that science could tell us the truth, while story never did. But science was long based on the assumption of a reality independent of humans – a material universe that could be studied without interfering in it in any way. When physicists discovered that all the universe was composed of energy waves and that every instance of our human reality was a wave function collapsed from sheer probability by a conscious observer, everything changed.

It meant that our world is produced in our consciousness – that realities are not fixed scenarios in which we grope our way about, but the ever-changing creations we ourselves ‘bring forth’ both individually and collectively through our beliefs and actions. In other words, a universe “more like a great thought than like a great machine” is more like a storytelling universe we make up as we go than like a stable physical reality in which we grope our way about.

The concept of Ecosophy reminds me of a form of                                             Vulcan Star Trek Mind Meld  between we humans and our planet, and I think that would  be just grand.

Ecosophy: Nature’s Guide To A Better World

I’ll be out and about visiting some of your websites  and tell everyone about it on Sunday. Have a great weekend!


Ecosophy: Nature’s Guide to a Better World, by Elisabet Sahtouris.