Blessed Intentions

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November 19, 2017, Paulden, AZ-

I spent the better part of today at a small intentional community, in this mostly agricultural, unincorporated town, in northern Yavapai County.  Paulden is due west of Sedona, and despite being sans Red Rocks, it has a good deal of its eastern neighbour’s vibes.  These have drawn many people whose goal is to live as close to the land as possible.

Dharma Family Farm is made up of six adults and several children, living in conscious connection with the tall grass prairie that is found between the various small mountain ranges of western and southern Yavapai County and the Verde and Agua Fria Rivers to the east.

I met most of them last week, at Convergence, and had the pleasure of taking breakfast with them, last Sunday.  This led to an invitation to visit their farm and join them at table.  So, I took up that offer, this afternoon and evening.

Conversation with three of the farmers ranged on several matters, from not tilling the soil and understanding the nature of weeds, to the worth of intentional communities.  The recognition that rent and mortgage derive from the European manorial system, and earlier, from imperial mindsets in places as far afield as China and Egypt, led to one person’s opinion that having a roof over one’s head should not require half, or more, of one’s income.

It’d be really nice if that were not my reality, or that of millions of others, around the world.  The alternative, gift or trade economy as a means by which to live, is the basis for many intentional communities.  At Dharma, everyone has a set of responsibilities, which they undertake, daily and heartily, in good faith, in exchange for simple but comfortable housing.  Each adult accepts responsibility for the well-being of the children.  There is a group meeting,  in advance of any major event, and a planning board, with an interesting beehive motif, sits behind the common dining table.

If some of this sounds like the communes of the 1960’s and ’70’s, there are features of those entities, such as vegetarianism and natural healing. Fidelity between marriage partners is very definite at Dharma, however, and modesty in dress is practiced by all adults, and children of school age.  Hygiene is excellent.

Here are a few scenes of Dharma Family Farm, bearing in mind that this is the time when preparations are being made for the winter months.

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This is a bottle wall.  Glass bottles help prevent cement from cracking.20171119_154703[1]

Artwork is random and eclectic.  I like the creativity of the residents in this secondary house.

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Here’s the supply yard. EVERYTHING in this lot will be put to good use, especially during the winter and spring repair and planting seasons.

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This is Holly, her youngest daughter, Lunaya, and two of their four dogs.  Holly  and her mate, Landen, were the first of the current group of residents to come to Dharma.

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I came away with renewed respect for people in intentional communities.  Their work ethic is as good  as, if not better than, that of many wage and salaried workers, in the wider world.  Their children are well-fed, feel emotionally secure and, from infancy, are not held back from doing tasks that their bodies and motor skills can handle.   There is full equality between the genders, and nobody divides labour, of any kind, by stereotype.   Home schooling is the preferred vehicle for education.  This last would give me a skill to offer, if I pursue a period of itinerant service, following my retirement from my current work, three years hence, as I am sure that other intentional communities may have such needs. Indeed, I spent thirty minutes with a very meticulous two-year-old, assembling a tower from the plastic blocks I had brought as a gift to the children.

I will be back at Dharma, several times, over the next three years, at least.  Life is good, where there is love and devotion.

 

Clear As Mud

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March 4, 2017, Camp Verde- One of the features of Arizona life, that escapes many visitors, is the seasonal vitality of our rivers.  After taking part in a Red Cross service activity, I headed to Clear Creek Day Use Area, which offers access to the West Clear Creek, as it heads southeast, towards its eventual confluence with the Verde River.  As you will see, the creek’s name, this time of year, is a misnomer.

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There was a party of above 18 people, including two small children, preparing to raft West Clear, as I arrived for a short hike along its west bank.  All were well-suited up for the experience, and I wished them safe passage.  Below, are several things that awaited them.

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Of course, there was plenty of open water, behind this particular tree; but you get the picture.

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One of the attractions here, in calmer weather, is the jump-off point.

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Some people just figure, in the dryness of September and October, that it’s no big deal to leave a memento of industrialism.  More’s the pity.

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Once back on drier terrain, I made note of the footbridge, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, way back in 1940.

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There was still some energy left in me, so, despite it being the period of the Baha’i Fast, I took in a short segment of Copper Canyon Trail.  The last time, I walked the north segment, which leads to I-17.  This time, I headed southward and up a small mesa.  It is not an especially spectacular trail, but it’s nature and I practically had the place to myself.  An old cowboy, passing by, made note of my Red Cross t-shirt and remarked as how such charities are in debt, before going his way.  While that may have been true, at one point, I’m not so sure that our donors put up with such, anymore.

 

Anyway, here are a few scenes, which a couple of herds of cattle and I shared, along the trail.  There wasn’t much water in Copper Creek, but it was clear.

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It wasn’t long, before I headed up the two switchbacks which led to the mesa top.  There are, actually, about five such mesas, rising up out of Copper Canyon.  The scene in the near distance, is Clear Creek Village, just south of Camp Verde.

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It is possible for the discerning eye to see traffic, headed northbound, on I-17.

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Despite the winter’s continued scenes of bareness, the promise of Spring is evident, in these wild dandelions.

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So, there goes a very full day, spent with our beautiful eastern neighbour, the Verde Valley.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six,Part XIII: Civility

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March 4, 2017, Camp Verde-  I began the day, helping with a Red Cross Home Safety activity, in a neighbourhood near the main fire station, in this town that lies over the Black Mountains and some forty-five miles east of Prescott. We worked with town firemen, installing smoke detectors along a street that abuts the fire station.  As I had done a similar task, late last year, in Sedona, the event today went very smoothly.  The firemen are also past masters at installing the devices, which made it smoother still.

After that, I took a couple of hikes, one along the Verde River, at Clear Creek Day Use Area and the other in Copper Canyon, which lies southwest of Camp Verde.  More about each of those, tomorrow.

Today, though, comes the matter of civility. We have, before us, a sitting President accusing his immediate predecessor of conducting surveillance on his signature office building and residence, during the brouhaha that masqueraded as an election campaign. Said predecessor, speaking through his aides, denies the accusations. Time, and investigation, will, of course show who is being truthful here.

We are in the throes of incivility, and have been, for some time now.  Consider:  It was four years ago, last December, that 26 people were slain in an elementary school.  Two days after the carnage, unknown militants threatened to kill both the survivors of those victims AND a man who had taken other children into his home, and reunited them with their parents.  The trolls were insisting that all the above were part of a Federal conspiracy to confiscate weapons from private citizens. Never mind that seven of those families were headed by members of the National Rifle Association, and owned weapons.

Consider:  Survivors, loved ones, of American military heroes, have been, and are still being, attacked by uncivil people-of both Alt-Right ( in the case of the Khan family) and Far-Left (in the case of Karenn Owens) political bent.

Consider:  Trash-talking by adults about, and towards, children is almost de rigeur, online and in the check-out lines of stores; in public and, no doubt, in trusting private.  Children have been treated like mini-adults, by the media, for some time (Children of colour, in particular, are most often referenced by surname, in the mainstream media).  Many parents, citing “freedom of speech”, are following suit.

The way adults treat one another is often little better; thus, the reverse role models, who give kids the notion that no level of profanity, no level of insult, is too extreme.  To the innocent mind, this seems like a perfectly acceptable way to be taken seriously, and thus, filth streams out of many children’s mouths.

I was raised to be civil, and I know I am far from alone. Anonymity is cited as the reason for road rage, Internet trolling, stalking, and bullying of all stripes.  It is not valid.  We can see those at whom we honk horns or flip the bird, and whose vehicles we tailgate or cut off.  We can read the responses, see the fear or sadness of those we attack on social media.  We can feel the trepidation and notice the unease of those we try to intimidate.  The bully knows what is being done.

It all goes back to our self-image.  If, deep down, one doesn’t feel he/she matters, then no one else matters, either.  The fact is, each of us does matter, or we wouldn’t be here.  Each of us does have a mandate to be civil- regardless of the false mirrors we see on television, in the movies, on stage and the messages we hear on radio or see online.  Each of us could learn from those whose opinions differ from ours, because each of us has a portion of the truth, within our psyches.

Each of us could choose to be civil.

 

 

The Road to 65, Mile 114: V Bar V

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March 22, 2015, Montezuma Well-  Today would have been my father’s 88th birthday.  He’s been gone from us for 29 years now, but the wisdom of the man resonates still.  A lot of that wisdom, I am convinced, was passed down through the faded, but still perceptible, knowledge of our Penobscot ancestors.  I am ever drawn to Native American perspectives on matters, perhaps because of this.  Having lived among the Navajo and Hopi people for several years, I have internalized many of these perceptions.  I visited some long-time Baha’i friends this afternoon, in this quiet community, north of Camp Verde and along the tributary of the Verde River that is known as Wet Beaver Creek.  My friends, a Navajo man and his wife who is of European descent, and their elder daughter, greeted me at their home just west of  Montezuma Well National Monument.

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After a light lunch, three of us went over to V Bar V Ranch Historical Site, which is maintained by the U. S. Forest Service.  Today was the second Archaeology Discovery Day, at this site.  There were several booths, as well as the permanent ruins of the ranch, from the 1880’s and several petroglyphs, which appear to be of the Beaver Creek Style, dating from the 12th and 13th Centuries, A.D., and associated with the people known commonly as Sinagua or, to their Hopi descendants, Hisatsinom.  In this style, animals and people are often depicted together- either as prey/predator or as observed and observer.

On the way in, we encountered the ruin of a chimney and fireplace, virtually all that is left of the ranch that that once dominated this area.  There is a former ranch house, now used as rangers’ offices, at the north end of the site and next to it, a Visitor Center.

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We were first pleasantly greeted by a lilac bush.

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The importance of agriculture, then and now, was highlighted by a table which featured traditional plants and seeds of the area, including white and blue corn, and various beans and squash.  Brown native cotton was also on display.  We were each given several packs of heirloom seeds.SAM_4620

Each sherd of pottery found in the area is kept in a dignified manner.  Each piece is treated as representing the energy of the person who fashioned it, many centuries ago.  It was explained to us that many modern Native American officials a re now more interested in oil and mineral royalties, and the pursuit of corporate wealth, than in maintaining traditional languages and cultures.  The preservation of archaeological sites, then, is, ironically, entrusted to the Federal government.

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The petroglyphs themselves, and the way the sun hit an area near a crack in the rock face, drew the largest crowds..

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Globemallow were in full bloom.SAM_4646

There was a spear throwing contest, using an atlatl.  None of us were immediately adept at it.  I would need several hours of practice, in order to properly use the instrument.SAM_4648

Many other wilderness survival tools were on display, including several fishing implements and hunting snares and traps.SAM_4652

As ever, my outing got an affirmation from the spirit realm.  There were several heart-shaped rocks along the trail.

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I was well-impressed by the site and the various displays, which offered a wealth of explanations to young and old alike. This was a fine way to offer an homage to my father.

site, which is now used as a ranger station, by the Forest Service.