Easter Sunday 2018
“He is risen!”
“He is risen indeed!”
Easter Grass, Arizona style
What a weekend! Adventures south to Gila National in New Mexico, northeast to Petrified Forest, Holbrook, Arizona, and Sunday northwest to Walnut Canyon, outside of Flagstaff, Arizona.
We came home every day, so the four directions were honored on this three-day adventure.
Finding “home” when traveling with four dogs is different than going home to familiar porches with twanging screen doors leading into houses where sketches of pumpkins the three-year-old drew on bedroom walls which overheard naptime stories have never been overpainted. Finding home is being greeted, welcomed, invited in – and back – and wanting to go. It’s a place where people listen, share their own experiences, and, in the aura of true “home”, pass no judgement while they pass the time, the tea, and plates of delicious food.
Peace Lutheran Church in Holbrook established itself as my heart home on our first visit four years ago. On every visit since, the dogs and I have been welcome to come again – and again – and again. So, visiting on Easter Sunday made all kinds of sense. I was not going to have to defend myself, my friends’ lifestyles, or my faith. I would be able to go Home to celebrate my favorite holiday with like-minded people in an atmosphere of grace and acceptance.
Of course, we stopped at the dog park first. Holidays are, after all, holidays for the whole family.
Molly, Freckles, and Hannah. At 12-years-old, Maeda keeps a discreet distance from this sort of “play”.
After worship, and a “family photo” on the church steps, grown-ups*
lingered over a tasty brunch and jelly beans, while the children engaged in an egg hunt in the church garden.
I met new friends. They met me. Life is good.
The dogs and I headed west, not quite sure of our destination. Sedona? Oak Creek? Tuthill County Park outside of Flagstaff where the dogs and I camped last summer – and awoke under snow?
There are sometimes conversations in our car about where we stop, but the dogs left this one up to me.
So, at the signs for Walnut Canyon National Monument, we pulled in.
A former colleague had been here, and shared photos of her family amid sunshine and smiles. Reasons enough to check it out.
The view from Rim Trail
Walnut Canyon is not just a canyon – which says nothing if you’ve never seen a canyon, I know. It isn’t just another “hole in the ground”. This canyon was once home to an ancient Hopi civilization – and has the ruins to prove it.
I am all in favor of using natural resources to construct a settlement. I love the idea of patching a wall and door beneath a cliff over hang. But to build an entire community on the edge of pathways no wider than three or feet was something altogether unsettling.
“Look, Ma! No guardrail!”
I took my time using the foot path constructed by Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 20th century – with occasional guardrail – to get down the 273 steps to where the ranger was stationed near the ruins. I gingerly stepped along footpaths first worn into the earth during the 12th century. I lingered with strangers, admiring the construction, imagining the lifestyle, wondering how long it would take to hike down to the river and bring up a day’s supply of water.
Prickly Pear cactus.
What happens in the summer monsoons? Water cascades over the front of the dwellings, but wouldn’t it also whisk a person off the ledge?
There’s something about a door.
What about in winter, when the snows came? “Oh, Honey, I need another cup of beans for tonight’s supper. Do you mind running down the path to get some from the storage room? Mind the ice.”
Look! Barnacles in the stone from when this Earth was the ocean floor.
Over there! See? That swath of yellow stone about half way down the canyon wall was once sand dunes.
Look up! A fern grows underneath the cliff. Talk about your “hanging plants”!
I have now seen how truly red is the tail of a red-tail hawk, flying beneath us, deeper into the canyon.
When I am old and grey, and can no longer stand, will I be this beautiful?
Grateful for the 71-degree Fahrenheit temperature. Relieved by the gentle breeze. I realized this was the perfect day to visit Walnut Canyon.
I headed up as evening began to cast shadows. What was it like on a moonless night, traveling along the rim? Did one know every nuance of the trail, every knuckle of earth, every outcropping of spiny cactus?
What was it like on Full Moon, when shadows cast across the ravine, and unknown steps echoed in the night time?
I, with my comfortable walking shoes and snug socks, clinging to the hand rail, marching up steps set into the rock by compatriots of my elders, have no idea what it means to be of this Earth.
The modern hiker
Can you see the face? I didn’t notice this until I saw the thumbprint. I was just fascinated by the colors and the shadows. But then, when I got home, I noticed more.