Column: Staying Arizona strong
I generally only whip out a newsletter to announce big news like I’ve written a new book, found the Lost Dutchman Mine, or stumbled onto a really great burger joint. But in these strange and dire times, it seems like a good idea to just reach out and connect with folks once in awhile. So this is me saying howdy. Hope everyone is healthy and safe.
For those of us sheltering in Arizona, at least we are in a remarkable place where beauty is often delivered right to our doorsteps. Over the past couple of weeks in the Verde Valley, dazzling sunsets have electrified the skies, a rainbow arched overhead, and a squadron of butterflies has wobbled past my window.
Spring danced in when no one was looking and rattled the earth softly. It is the season we need most right now with its sweet loamy breath, chorus of birdsong, and balmy sunshine. Best of all it has splashed wildflowers everywhere. My hillsides are shaggy with grasses but also the blooms of paintbrush, penstemon, fleabane, wild hyacinth, and desert marigold. Every afternoon I sit outside pulling weeds and chatting with those colorful blossoms. Hey, it’s cheaper than therapy.
Soon cactus will burst into bloom, a small miracle if ever there was one. A cactus seems like such a simple entity most of the year, all snarling spines and waxy menace. But within the plant beats a heart full of poetry and madness, equal parts delicate and dangerous, coaxed to the surface by spring. Each bloom lasts for just a single day, flinging open silken petals with a sudden flourish to seduce bees, birds, and bats. No pollinator can resist the siren song of such unexpected drama. So in the end, it’s a love story. All around us we witness hope and renewal — a quest to keep on keeping on. Despite impossibly harsh conditions, goodness and beauty triumph. No matter what else goes on in the world, cacti bloom in the Arizona desert. Hold on to that.
If ever there was a year to focus on the details of spring, this is it. Head outside every chance you get. Work in the yard, lounge on the porch, or walk the neighborhood. If local trails are open, put on your hiking boots. Stay safe, stay sane, and bask in all that Arizona has to offer.
For those who want to start planning adventures when travel becomes an option again, here’s a fun fact. Did you know that Arizona is the Dwarf Car Capitol of the World? And it’s all because of Ernie Adams who has built a fleet of exquisite handmade scaled-down replicas of classic cars. They’re fully dressed and street legal. You can read my recent story in the Arizona Republic on Ernie and his Dwarf Car Museum in the town of Maricopa.
And if you need some additional reading material during these housebound days, don’t forget all my books and eBooks of Arizona travel, history, and humorous short stories are available on my Amazon page.
Here’s hoping we cross trails again soon beneath Arizona skies.
About Roger Naylor
Roger Naylor is an Arizona travel writer. His work has been featured in the Arizona Republic, The Guardian, USA Today, and Arizona Highways, among many others.
In 2018, Naylor was inducted into the Arizona Tourism Hall of Fame.
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