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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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

 

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.

 

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” Giant’s Mitten or Teapot Rock”
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“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.
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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.
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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.

&nsbp;

 And if you are a praying person, now would be the time.
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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