Oak Creek BouldersHad an interesting thing happen this evening as I was packing up to leave the studio. A couple pulled in to the OJHS (Old Jerome High School) parking lot with an Airstream in tow and asked if I knew of a good place to camp for the night. I informed them that there were a couple of places nearby, but that the best place was about a half hour away in Sedona. Right on Oak Creek, base o Schnebly Hill, amongst the red rocks, etc...I might be a bit partial because I live there full-time, nevertheless....I told them I was heading that way if they wanted to follow me.
As I got in the truck to head down the hill, through the town of Cottonwood, and out into the Verde Valley to Sedona, it struck me how extraordinary a thing it was that not only would I offer to lead somebody over twenty miles across the valley, but that they would trust me enough to follow a stranger down a road they clearly had never driven, to a place they had never been. Just a couple of years ago, I might have eyed these folks with suspicion wondering "what's this guy's angle?" And I would've assumed they were doing the same.
With this in the front of my mind, we set off towards Sedona. As we got closer, I realized how it must have looked to them; traveling down this strange piece of highway, the landscape changing from scrub and grasses to juniper and pinion, each curve revealing an ever-changing series of red rock cliffs and formations until you're sitting at the very base of these amazing monuments while waiting for a red light near New Frontiers grocery.
It's not that I take our unbelievable natural surroundings for granted. Each day I drive to the grocery store, it's all I can do to not pull over and gaze at the rocks -- often I don't make it and I think "I live here!"...But it's different when you consider it in terms of a first timer. Tonight, an even stronger level of thankfulness swept over me as I remembered that, come tomorrow, I don't have to leave this place. That I get to go back to Jerome and paint. And I don't have to go back to being suspicious of everyone's motives every moment of every day. That even though there is still ugliness and danger out there....right now, in this place...as the brilliant Michael Workman puts it, "There are still good things."
Plein air study: "Oak Creek Boulders" 8x10, oil on panel