Day 5 Ė Wednesday 20 July 2016

Oak Creek, strange rocks, more thunderstorms, and a pile of beautiful handmade paper

Oak Creek swimming hole with Cathedral rock left background

I woke up at 7.30, got myself ready and out front of the dining hall by 8.15 in the hope that Carol would be going into Oak Creek or Sedona to do some shopping, but she wasnít this morning unfortunately. The cable on my iphone was playing up last night. It just didnít seem to want to connect to the phone for about an hour. Very frustrating then it just decided to work.

Anyway, I put on some laundry on, went back to my room and did a little writing. At 9.30 I went over to say hi to Emma (papermaker intern) who, with Tom, was packing up the temporary paper making area, in the aptly named Health Centre of the school. She let me forage through the quite large stack of handmade paper that she and many of the other artists staying here had been making over the past 4-5 weeks and she said I could take as much as I wanted. Brilliant, so I took maybe 60-70 sheets, about half of the stack, and will make artist journals out of them. Emma was most pleased by this; we swapped email addresses and she asked if I would send her images of the finished journals, I agreed.

Before long it was time for 10am brunch. I sat with Ashley singer/songwriter from Baton Rouge based band Ship of Fools and her partner Chris as well as Tom (photographer), Robert (papermaker) and Emma (papermaker). Conversation was bright and lively this morning. Emma was leaving today, as was Tom. Robert still had packing to do and was leaving in the next few days. Chris, Ashley and I decided that after breakfast we would make the 30-minute walk down to Oak Creek for a swim. At 11 we were on the road, the hot heat of the Arizona sun belting down on us. Along the way we passed a snake, with tiger like stripes on its back section, just commencing its way out onto the road in front of us. It stopped, we stopped, we both went separate directions, and all was well.

Snake on a rock ledge Cathedral Rock in the distance Oak Creek swimming hole Oak Creek

Shortly afterwards we were by the side of Oak Creek witnessing a stunning view up to Cathedral Rock. We were all very hot and sweaty by now so into the creek we went. There were about 15-20 other people, mostly kids, doing the same thing. It was cool and enormously refreshing with Cathedral Rock glaring down on us from above the whole time. Iíd say 5 minutes after emerging from the water we were dry again. We took our cameras, wandered up the creek a little navigating our way across a hazardous section of shallow moss covered rock to a great photo opportunity of the rock above. The sun was beating down on us so shortly after the photo op we were once again back in the water. Within minutes I noticed a storm rolling in. At one stage as I was looking up at Cathedral Rock and I saw a giant bright bolt of white lightening in between me and the rock and seconds later an ear-splitting crash of thunder. The wind had also picked up. It was a bit of warning to us so we got out and started the walk back to the school, up the winding red dirt road. Midway into the walk we came across our friendly snake again, or perhaps it was a different one, who quickly scurried off into the bush. A few metres later I came across a strange sight. There were about 7-8 boulders, up a 1 metre high embankment, that had been pushed over in their sides. All of them in the same sort of way. These were big boulders and would have required heavy equipment to do such a thing. It was a strange sight seeing these beautiful big red boulders pushed over in unison, in the same direction, leaving great divot holes in the ground where they once used to sit. Perhaps they were moved back so as not to encroach on the road if the monsoon rains eroded the dirt underneath. Anyway, it made me think about all of the loose temporary sorts of rock structures that I've been noticing around the place. That act as markers, barriers, indicators, or whatever, or as a simple movement or re-organisation of a rock or rocks to define or give meaning to a human action or movement. There have been a lot of artistís here drawing, painting, performing, photographing, papermaking, with elements of the rock. This has been fascinating to observe. I will be thinking through this more over the coming days and in particular looking for more evidence of these sorts of human made rock structures out in the landscape.

Yours truly getting a bit of sun by the creek Oak Creek and Cathedral Rock Trailblazing away from Oak Creek The beautiful red rock of Sedona

I took a few photos of these strangely positioned rocks and as we walked on we could see the storm coming in on us from all directions and within about 5 minutes from us being back at the school it came down. Big heavy drops of rain slow at first before picking up pace, yes we were smack bang in the middle of a heavy showering downpour. But we made it back not too wet even though it rained solidly, including more thunder and lightening. It continued on for about the next 50 minutes with the added benefit of cooling everything down.

By now I was back in my room writing and drawing, drips of water falling off the roof awnings visible out of my two windows and a grey stillness in the sky unlike Iíve seen since being here. The birds outside were lovely it as I could hear their chirping and was able to watch them darting around amongst the wet tree branches for the next few hours.

Cathedral Rock One of the mysteriously moved rocks Why? The people's rocks

At 4.45 I went outside ready to meet Eric and head out for a pizza dinner at a local familyís house in Sedona. Julie (writer), Thomas (painter) and Nellie (multi discipline/photographer) were also coming along. I hadnít met Nellie before. Yes she's a multidiscipline artist but has been using her time at the Sedona Summer Colony working on calotype photographs. The one I saw the other night, during the open studios, was very large and was of a long cactus plant, but she told me that she has also been working with rocks, so hopefully Iíll go and have a look at them tomorrow after brunch.

Anyway, pizza dinner was great; we sat outside on a mild Wednesday evening and chatted for hours. Julie is staying with them for a couple of nights before she heads off to Hawaii then home to New Zealand. Nellie and I drove back to the school, via the IGA for snacks and bananas, for my last night here at the colony. On Friday 80 Korean students take over the school so everyone pretty much leaves tomorrow. Iíll be staying in downtown Sedona in a casita for the rest of the trip. A brief adventure of the very creative kind ends and new one begins.

Beautiful hand made paper in many different varieties, and a few rocks