Arizona. You were a blur. I arrived thinking “I have two whole months to take in your arid beauty. Your dusty desert hikes, your blooming cactus, your choya, your locals and your snowbirds.” And then suddenly I have one week left and I’ve barely gone hiking, I haven’t gotten my night desert pictures, and I won’t have time to go to the canyon lakes. Argh.
But the months weren’t without entertainment.
There were the full moon drum jams and the weekly music circles. There was the rodeo. There was that cowboy. And there were a couple trash bag tutus.
The campfires filled with music, stories, and jokes are part of what make this world so wonderful. Like a group of old cowboys sharing warmth and light, rennies from all walks come together around a fire to share their talents and energy. Sometimes the fires are right in the campground, in a special pit that has been built by fellow travelers over time. A slowly hollowed out circle of stone seats with a fire pit in it’s center. Sometimes the fires are out in the desert, preceded by a long hike through moonlit washes and around spindly desert trees full of slumbering birds who chirp sleepily as we pass. The walks, the music, the community- it’s all there and it’s all great. I can even work on my own drumming skills, knowing that if I’m being listened to at all, it is to offer constructive advice rather than criticism. In honor of my return to Arizona, I’d like to quote myself here, pulling the following from a post I wrote about my first drum jam last year in a discontinued blog :
“…With this drum, I took it and started hitting it. I started hitting just the base note, one hit each measure. Practicing getting the nice dong sound to come from the drum. Then I added other beats as I felt able to do. Sometimes I messed up, and sometimes I lost the beat, and I’d go back to just keeping time for the other drummers. But I could hear my drum mixing in with all those others. And then, later, after I’d warmed up or gotten comfortable or what have you, I started hearing my drum on top of the others instead of below them. Were they following me? Was my beat steady enough for the other drummers to build off of its base and settle into my rhythm? Could I actually be good at this drumming thing? This is amazing! This is great! This is so much fun! I didn’t want to stop and I couldn’t wait for the next time.
I like this concept of learning in the presence of others. In a community of people who have been there, and can remember what it was like to start.
So here’s to doing more than dancing to the beat of your own drum, here’s to sharing that beat with others.”
Its just great energy out there. The rodeo, however, was great energy of an entirely different sort. It was indeed my first rodeo. It was lively. The horses were beautiful. I wore my cowboy boots and I drank bud light. I yeehawed at the bull riders and barrel racers. And then I went to the after party to mingle with the cowboys, and ended up meeting a country boy instead.
Now let me specify, as defined by this Country Boy, a country boy “can do everything a cowboy can do, maybe better”, but he’s more modest about it. He’s a good ol’boy with a heart of gold beneath that tanned and toned chest of his. So we’re supposed to think, at least. Well anyway, this Country Boy was nice enough, and after a chat in the bar about his horses and his tour business, we agreed to meet that next week for a ride through the desert.
So a few days later Mindy and I found ourselves atop Tequila and Smoke, two frisky mustangs ready to ride out. We rode through the desert, the horses daintily picking their way around cacti, until we came upon a ghost town. Parking the horses out front, we went in for a few more cold buds.
On the ride home the horses wanted to run, and we let them. Cantering through the sandy wash, barely maintaining my seat and loving every moment of it, I thought again about how important it is to meet the locals when you travel. What might be a crazy once in a life time experience for you, is just the daily grind for them. They might just love to share the experience with you. After all, seeing what you take for granted through the fresh excited eyes of a stranger can refresh your energy and make you grateful for the life you live. I know that’s how it works for me!
One evening out we went to a male burlesque show. The costumes were amazing, the dancers were adorable, and I fell in love with a trash bag dress. It had a bustle and a train, it was flowing and couture and completely 100% plastic. I knew I had to make one. So, for the rennie dance, the “funky formal” as it’s called, I knew it was time to be inspired. So above, you can see my disgustingly adorable trash bag tutu that resulted. It has a hot pink and leopard print duct tape waist band. I had to be taped into it that night, and cut it off of me when I was done. It was hot and sticky while I danced, but the awesome swishing fluffy-ness of it outweighed any discomfort. Litterbugs Unite! The trash bag tutu has some serious potential.
And that about sums up my stay in Arizona. Of course there was work, but who wants to hear about that anyway?
Up next, a 17 hr drive down to Waxahachie, Texas, for the Scarborough Renaissance Festival. What new adventures are in store? I’ll find out soon!