Monday, February 20, 2012

A Few Moments in the Life of Highway 89A


... The sun comes up, delivering light from the east, a half-star in brilliant yellows and reds, revealing the outlines of the Mogollon Rim, from the red rock of Oak Creek Canyon, to the shelf supporting Meteor Crater, to the overhang protecting Montezuma Castle, the E.T.-harassed waters of Mormon Lake ... a few cars buzz by, aerodynamic and whispering, if motorized, mostly rising to meet Sunday in Sedona, where most of the work is in the Verde Valley ... the transit bus from Cottonwood barrels up the hill as sleepy Latinos, a half-awake hippie chick or two, guys in hotel work-jacket with hair wet and shiny check into their miniaturized events on hand-held devices and, on this day, the senior-citizen bus driver is in sync with glassy Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra style crooning dialed up on the somnambulant radio ... the local smoker's coffee spot in Sedona is buzzing inside with quiet talk and the crashing sounds of plates and coffee cups percolating business, more than pleasure, it seems ... and the sky has gone grey and sleet and snow begin to fall, alternating damp cold as turbulating cars at the stoplight at 89A gaze straight and their drivers light their first cigarettes of the day ...
Across the street, at the administrative offices for the Sedona Film Festival, beautiful people are jamming through the door, trying to squeeze in many duties at once ... a famous screenwriter falls through the entrance with his family, seeking the proper human connections to end the travel and social desires of getting hooked up properly, but nobody knows what an Academy Award-winning scribe ever looks like, most certainly not like other guests such as Peter Bogdanovich or actress Mira Sorvino or what Elmo looks like when stripped naked to his man behind the curtain, and so the poor man's situation is answered with a row of blank looks at the entrance to the gates until somebody says he's so-and-so, "He's a presenter. He makes these things," pointing to the film festival poster on the wall of chimney rocks and a director's chair  ... such matters, easily and quickly resolved, blend in with the trouble and bustling of the world with polite thanks and introductions as people retreat back out into the cold morning air ...
Just down the street a man in a black T-shirt and greasy short-cropped hair all spiked up, some kind of sports warm-up jogging jacket, is waving his arms in the air, pointing, gesturing with one hand, holding the chains to two pit bulls in the other, well-behaved dogs, just sniffing around as Sedona police cars swarm onto the scene from both directions on 89A in west Sedona ... one, then two black-and-whites, then three, no four of them, shark-feeding on the day's first morning emergency from all directions ... no explanation is available, known, or given ... trouble is just a magnet and peace is a passing cloud for the one major thoroughfare interlocking Flagstaff, Oak Creek, Sedona, Cottonwood, Jerome and Prescott in northern Arizona ...
Across the street again, the sun has blown open a wide blue hole in the sky and pours in heat and light and the coffeehouse crazies are out, huffing and puffing in the bright change of weather to describe ancient evenings of third eye adventures, of minds-eye meetings in psychic crossroads and portals beyond the pains and worries of the world ... daily talk, ever-evolving talk in these parts: There's nothing normal about it, paranormal maybe, but ... it intertwines with the business of manifesting a toehold to the unreality of ever-lifting altitudes to the canyon road of ancient red, white rock leading up the canyon, then onto the top of the rim, shortly ... just 20 or so miles to go to Flagstaff and its hub of trains and motels and the hi-jinks of a college town ...
In Oak Creek Canyon, though, not is all happy or extraterrestrial-ly tuned in ... A man reading the paper, wearing some kind of "Northern Exposure"-style coat and flannel shirt, growls at a family of tourists who have come in for sweet-cakes and coffee, bellowing, "Close the door, you stupid people!" ... and, once again, out in the cottonwoods and pines and tall surrounding walls of rock and time, it begins to snow, then lets up, beaming in more light ... and then the storm moves in again, the cold closes in, and the sky goes dark ...

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