In Among the Red Rocks

We are in Arizona.

Maureen wanted to see the red rocks. We rented a holiday house near Sedona just below the Midgely Bridge on Oak Creek Canyon.

We hiked the trails. And we swam in the popular creeks.

We had only been there two days when I got a message saying the old lady had passed away. Then a nephew in New Zealand e-mailed me and asked me if I would give a tribute at her Thanksgiving Service.

That day I also read that the three people accused of Chloe’s murder had been found guilty. (I had been following the trial online).

Following that trial took me to places I hadn’t been before. The three Poles had created fake profiles of Chloe on sites like Local Slags, Cougar Date and LookAtMe.

“Did they turn you on?” Maureen asked, when I said I had been looking at them. I was a bit taken aback.

“Perhaps”, I said, “even though they were ugly and gross”.

Micha had apparently used some of the footage from the fly-on-the-wall camera beside Chloe’s bed for the fake profile they created on the “fling” sites. (That is what they are called.)

They bought SIM cards, too, and texted Chloe. It was meant to the make Chloe’s phone logs reveal she was putting herself about, being unfaithful to Micha. But she just texted back to say that she would alert the police if they did not leave her alone.

One of the SIM cards was found in Kasia’s Honda.

The desert agave is in flower. The agave grows a rosette of leaves at its base. Then, when it has accumulated enough energy in its spiked leaves, it shoots a rigid stem, growing at two inches a day, to six feet or more. On the upper part of the stem, arrayed like a coat tree, grow first the clusters of orangey buds and then the yellow flowers, waiting to be pollinated by humming birds.

After that the exhausted rosette dies and the dried-out, brittle stem falls.

I kept thinking about Dorothy as we walked through the junipers with shredding trunks and the desert holly and the other pungent desert plants rooted in the hot, dry ground.

Like the stands of ocotillo, inverted cones of dry sticks that sprout leaves when there is moisture.

I love these blue-grey, green-grey desert plants.

That live and die with no pain.

(And burn without pain in wind-driven fires sparked by lightning strikes like the one that tragically killed 19 men near Prescott just a few weeks later.)

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