Posted by: Maryann McCullough | October 30, 2012

Story for November 2012


Maryann McCullough

I am a person who is afraid of color.

Certainly I don’t mean this in a racist sense nor do I run screaming from the room when I encounter a box of crayons. But my home has white walls and beige carpet. My wardrobe is replete with black pants and white shirts and white pants with black shirts. My confidence in playing with color is non-existent. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not blown away by what God has done with it.

While that handiwork is everywhere, when I want to see some of His best semi-local work, I get in my car, point it north and drive the 120 miles until I reach Sedona.

Though arriving at the destination is the agenda, the process of getting there is a pleasure as well. As I begin the trip I first notice the sky, scrubbed of its city pallor, now a blue that makes me understand why we decided that heaven is “up there.”   Midway through the drive, the junipers and ponderosa pines appear. Their deep rich color reminds this Phoenician that Palo Verdes and olive trees are poor excuses for green. Eventually I come to a bend in the road where I see them for the very first time, those red rocks – arrogantly breaking those rules of decorum that assigns tan as the proper color for mountains. Jezabel-like in their defiance of convention, the rocks boldly taunt strangers “You think you know about Arizona?  Well, have I got a surprise for you!”

We call them “the red rocks of Sedona” but the truth is, they are no more red than a red-head has red hair  Those rocks are coral and rust, umber and sienna. They invite me to paint or photograph, or maybe even to write words that convey that awesome beauty  But, most visits I’ll just selfishly soak it in, not wishing to miss the experience in the process of attempting to hold on to it.

As I get close to the actual town of Sedona, galleries on the right and left of the road give a clue that it’s neither farming nor big business that keeps this region alive. Sedona is the chosen residence for many an artistic soul. Shopping malls or Walmart, those indicators of normal living, are nowhere in sight. The closest thing to a mall, Tlaquepaque, sits on the south edge of the town, but a stop there is more a cultural experience than a pragmatic shopping venture. Those arty locals apparently lead contented lives devoid of needs for cookie sheets or new socks.

Restaurants, many alfresco, for all food tastes and budgets abound. Enjoying a meal of baked brie and fresh fruit while sipping a chardonnay surrounded by that perfect tricolor of pine against rock against sky is an experience not to be missed. Dining at sunset enhances the experience. Watching the sunlight-and-shadow show produced against those beautiful buttes produces an awe-inspired gasp each and every time.

When in the mood for exercise more challenging than browsing in the various tourist-oriented shops, I will hike one of the many trails to be found there. My favorite is the North Fork. All the senses are rewarded there. The same water that sparkles in the sunlight as it races downhill to become part of the creek is a welcome reward for a thirsty hiker. I would never think of bringing an iPod along. The journey I am on allows me to listen to silence. If the chatter of birds interrupt the silence, that is fine. It is their home. I am just a visitor.

 Should you choose to walk in my shoes, keep in mind that they should be sensible shoes and make sure to bring along your sense of humor. It is likely someone in your party will slip on a rock while crossing the creek that that winds across your path. Your life will not be endangered but your dignity may take a blow or two.

While I always attributed the sense of peace associated with my trips to Sedona to the natural beauty of the surroundings, others would claim a more spiritual basis for that experience of tranquility. The vortices (places of spiritual energy) that are identified with the area have  brought tourists as well as transplants to the area. Indians from centuries past, as well as today’s new-age thinkers chose to make this region their home in order to be near these sources of health and healing. While I am in no position to discredit the spiritual rejuvenation attributed to the vortices, my money is still on the rocks.

Something that can take your breath away will likely make you feel a whole lot better too.



  1. Ahhh. You’ve brought me back to one of my favorite places. Thank you, Maryann!

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