Archive for April, 2015

Clear Creek

Campsite at Clear Creek

Campsite at Clear Creek

I caught this little guy in the midst of shaking his head.

Shaking his head–probably wondering “Who is that woman?!”

For our monthly camping trip in April, we went to the Camp Verde/Clear Creek area to set up our temporary household. As you can see, our camp is far from luxurious, but it has the familiar feel of home because we’ve used the same equipment so many times. Though it is basic, we’ve found ways to make our campsites comfortable, chief among them the cots we use for sleeping. Once you’ve passed 60, as we have, sleeping on the ground loses some of its charm and getting up becomes a tricky exercise!

Clear Creek and its surrounding area held several interesting places to visit. One was the Old V Bar V ranch, now a state park. It contains some extremely well preserved rock art sites. The other was Montezuma’s Well, a unique small spring whose water never fails no matter how dry the area becomes. Best of all, desert wildflowers bloomed wherever we went–past their best, but still very beautiful. Here are some of the photos from our trip.

Claret Cup Cactus (I think)

Claret Cup Cactus (I think)

Petroglyphs at the V Bar V Ranch State Park

Petroglyphs at the V Bar V Ranch State Park

In the petroglyph, the spiral symbol near the left side of the picture is one of a series of spirals at the site. Curiously, at each of the solstices of the year, a shaft of light from the top of the cliff above will cross one of them exactly. The ranger there speculates that they may have been part of a calendar or other time-reckoning system. Interesting, isn’t it?

Ancient dwelling places seen from across Montezuma’s Well. See the black doorways beneath the top rock layer?

As far as anyone knows for sure, Montezuma never had anything to do with this site, and the origin of the name is uncertain. Whenever I see ruins like these, I wonder at the amount of work it would have taken to live in them–climbing up to the gardens above on the rocky shelf, and climbing down again to sleep. Imagine raising children in a cliff dwelling with water beneath it and sharp rocks all around. I’m filled with admiration for the people who did these things.

It was a wonderful couple of days, though the nights were still chilly for camping. We’re already looking forward to next month.

More interested in whether I had something for him to eat than in posing for the camera.

More interested in whether I had something for him to eat than in posing for the camera.

Globe Mallow, my favorite wildflower.

Globe Mallow, my favorite wildflower.

A Small Town Easter

I know Easter can be wonderful in large cities, because I’ve enjoyed it in them at times. But our small town Easter this year topped them all for me.

Our Seder supper on Thursday night is becoming a real community event. We had more people stuffed into the fellowship hall at church than we could have imagined would fit. Lamb, eggs, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs were served, and foot washing by Jeff at one station and our city’s mayor at the other really moved the people who attended. Nothing seems to bring the message home like the visual participation of Maundy Thursday’s last supper.

Friday brought its somber note. Jeff borrowed a full sized cross (from the Baptist Church) and propped it in the sanctuary doorway, so that we entered under the shadow of the cross. We followed the last words of Christ and pondered their meaning.

I had to smile at the end of the service, though. Our congregation’s nature is not responsive to the bulletin note to “leave in silence.” We left the sanctuary in silence, but the fellowship hall buzzed with conversation. I glanced over at Jeff, and he just shrugged, chuckled, and joined in the chatter. People do feel the sober message of the service, but you can’t fool us–we know Sunday is coming!

On Saturday, the majority of the congregation gathered to give the church a good cleaning for Easter. Windows were washed, new gravel spread in the parking lot, and brass candleholders denuded of their layers of wax for the coming service. This year, we’re having a bumper crop of lilacs around town, and vases of them competed with the lilies in fragrance. You could feel the excitement building as everyone worked together in preparation.

On Sunday morning, the sanctuary looked and smelled like Easter. Jeff’s message was full of laughter and joy. A choir of 11 or 12 people led the amazing music of the day.  And the words of the lessons told us over and over: this is why we are here–this is what we believe to be true–we are safe and forgiven because of what happened at Easter.

A few years ago, God gathered 7-10 folks for worship at Peace. This Sunday, He brought 61 of us, and it felt like another miracle of the day. Many churches would close their doors if all they had was 61 folks, but for us, it was manna and blessing and great abundance.

Afterwards we ate together in the fellowship hall, in the sanctuary, out under the roofed gazebo in the yard. More talking–with guests camping in the area, with co-workers who responded to our invitations to come, with regular members, with folks from Bread of Life mission. A friend of mine who came for the first time with her daughter said, “There was peace at this service–I could feel it.” The sense of being part of a believing community strengthened the message of the day.

I close the story of this small town Easter with this photo of the front page of Friday’s newspaper. We laugh sometimes and shake our heads at things that happen in Holbrook that wouldn’t happen in a place more concerned about political correctness, but this year it felt like a perfect part of Easter. He is Risen, friends!

Holbrook's paper is very supportive of religious events, obviously.

Holbrook’s paper is very supportive of religious events, obviously.