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Traveling, living, loving, exploring and trying to make some semblance of sense out of this crazy world.  


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Superstitions Christmas

Ravens dancing in the wind above the fisted red volcanic stone, frosted in verdant green, saguaros stretching green arms towards a sky full of wind-torn clouds, Cindy laughing at my stupid jokes as the massive sentinel of the Superstition Mountain casts long shadows across the timeless, ever-changing landscape. Snow highlights the distant bastion of Four Peaks, a lenticular cloud stretching to the horizon, with flakes drifting to the barren, grateful desert denizens below.

We bump down a dusty road of trailers and adobe and cinderblock which will, with the coming of dusk, be transformed into an avenue of flashing, glittering holiday color and lights, saguaros and palo verde, acacia and palm trees standing in for their evergreen cousins in most, with the occasional traditionalist displaying their proud Scotch Pine or hilariously scraggly high-plains cedar. The madness of inflatables does not translate well into cactus country, so we are spared the more garish displays of holiday overkill, but the department stores and radio stations make up for any lack.

Driving times and nights around the camp table, talk inevitably drifts East and we reminisce about the Blue Ridge, the deep forests and green hills, the snow and the cold and the storms; our first hike, through 7 inches of fresh snow, with temps in the 20s and winds topping out at 45 mph, laughing in the lee of a fallen tree while sharing a smoke and a cup of hot coffee from the thermos; camping on the North Fork the Christmas my love decided to become Cindy Gray, proposing over a four course meal and drinks in the midst of a driving snowstorm; sipping Irish cream and hot chocolate beside the woodstove, while Prairie Home Companion took us through another two hours of music and comedy and the snow piled up past three feet for 28 days in a row, from December 18 through the first weeks of the new year. 

Comparisons are made, between this year's camp, living out of a 8 x 10 tent tucked in the folds of the Apache Lakes and Superstitions, to last year's crime-surrounded, bedbug-infested apartment in Flagstaff, and we have spent more than a few hours finding hilarious similarities and striking differences between operations at the non-profit Flagstaff Family Food Center and the fairly upscale Canyon Lake Restaurant and Cantina where Cindy is charming the community as a hostess and I am currently slinging burgers and Philly cheese steaks as a line cook.
Hearing reports of weather to the north, I think of the long hours spent in the tiny cab of a Bobcat, pushing snow all night through some of Flag's worst storms to earn a buck, piloting the little blue truck through conditions that were immobilizing huge 4x4s and returning saddlesore and exhausted to the warm hugs and hot food that always greeted me at the door to our little nest.  Cindy tells me stories of the weeks of holiday preparations and celebrations among the Mennonite families she grew up in and knew as a child, and of the Christmases spent in South America. 

Mostly, this time of year, we think of and pray for our far-flung families, and our amazing friends, and thank God for our incredible blessings and continuing fortune, the greatest proof of which is those very precious souls who grace us with their wit and charm, their foibles and sorrows, small talk and big doings and pet peeves.

If the world should end tomorrow (and I very much doubt that it will), no man or woman was ever given more grace and bounty in the way of wondrous, informative, generous spirits to light our way along the Path.

May the holidays and the coming year bring you laughter for every day you shake your head in bewilderment, sunshine to follow your every cloud, a hug for every hour you walk in doubt, and the priceless gift of love, shared among yourselves, filling every cup to overflowing. 

May we all find it within ourselves to give back more than we are given, to live IN THE NOW, true to our highest selves and beliefs in the face of adversity and change.

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