April 8, 2017, Prescott-
I went to the Farmers’ Market, this morning, and attended a Red Cross Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. Then, I went back to Home Base and cleared the first of nineteen sections of a weed-filled back yard. I am old school, when it comes to such things. Herbicide and gasoline-operated weed whackers don’t appeal to me. Pulling weeds up by the roots is tedious, but it has no side effects. I also won’t wreck the beautiful tulips that are gracing the yard.
I chose to stay in, this evening, just for the sake of it. In the process, I find myself wanting to note the things that are dear to my heart about each region of the United States- at least the contiguous area, with which I am most familiar.
So, I love the Southwest for its lush deserts, its canyons and their limitless surprises, mountains that rise like sky islands, the wildlife that seems so furtive and yet so likely to pop out of hiding, at a moment’s notice. Its superlatives are the Grand Canyon, Nevada’s Valley of Fire and Cathedral Gorge, Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon and Kartchner Caverns. Its most sublime surprises are Canyon de Chelly, Slide Rock, Thumb Butte, Picacho Peak, Quitobaquito, White Sands and Great Sand Dunes. The revelations are the best of all: Superior, AZ; Mancos, CO; Pioche, NV; Truth or Consequences and Chama, NM; Loa, UT. Prescott will always feel like home, and so will Tucson, Flagstaff, Hopi, Dinetah, Reno-Carson City, the Front Range and Superior.
California is in several classes by itself. The sunny (until this year) south; the interchangeable mountains and deserts of the east; the intense vegetation of the north. It has been a home away from Home Base, for as long as I’ve lived in Arizona. Its superlatives are Yosemite, Mount Shasta, the Coastal Redwoods, frenetic Los Angeles and exquisite San Francisco. San Diego and Julian will always be welcoming, family places. Coastal Orange County, Palos Verdes, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Point Reyes and Mount Lassen define inspirational. There is no such thing as a boring Spanish colonial mission. Revelatory, to me, are little towns like Banning, Brawley, Ojai, Willits, Lomita, Woodfords and Yreka.
The Pacific Northwest defines majesty. Nothing outdoes the Olympic Peninsula, the Oregon Coast, Rogue River Gorge, the North Cascades or the canyons carved by the Snake and Columbia Rivers. Portland and Seattle exude creativity and cultural diversity. The islands of Puget Sound and the Straits abound with familial small communities: Anacortes and Friday Harbor stand out, in my memory. Wenatchee, Toppenish, Leavenworth, Spokane, The Dalles, Bend, Culver, Ashland, Pullman, Lewiston and Moscow all took me under their wings, and remain every bit blessed in my heart. The most surprising scenes were at Smith Rock, at the bridge outside Culver, at the alkaline lake for which Lakeview is named, on the boulder strewn beaches at Bandon and Kalaloch.
I am rambling, so there will be parts two and three to this elegy.