There’s always some woo in my books. As in, woo-woo. I suppose also as in “wooing,” but I swear I wasn’t trying to be punny when I started this sentence.
(Was that convincing?)
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the Reckoners a lot lately, as I begin the preliminary work for the third Reckoners book. (The first two were THE RECKONERS and STORM OF RECKONING, in case anyone’s lost track, along with partner story, “Deep River Reckoning.” So I’m taking another look at those books–at the things I did in those books.
And I realize it was bound to happen–that I’ve finally set a book in Sedona. I mean, take one writer of things fantastical living only an hour away from the red rocks, canyons, and vortexes. Give her a decade of exposure.
The inevitability of it is clear.
Seriously! Only an hour away from the woo-woo!
Not that my characters were as enthused.
Lucia Reyes: Shopping? In tourist Trap World? I don’t think so.
Lisa McGarrity: Reckoning? In Faux Woo-Woo World? I don’t think so.
Trevarr: [ ]
Oh, right. Trevarr. He’s like that.
Sklayne: Me. You forgot about me.
Sklayne. He’s like that, too.
Sedona has to be both the most over-appreciated and under-appreciated place in the world. Think SEDONA and you get crystals and vortexes, mantras and spiritual retreats. Because, sure… there’s a lot of that going around.
But drive to Sedona from Flagstaff, and you end up winding through a canyon with dizzying hairpin turns, dropping a couple thousand feet in short order. Ponderosa pines and scrub oak cling thickly along the red rocks in a stark green and bluff-red contrast, and rushing creek and riparian water habitat thrives below. It’s alive and it’s stunning and it’s unlike anywhere else you’ve ever been. Suddenly you look at it all much differently. You look beyond the woo.
You think, “This is a place where I’d like to sit. I’d like to spend time. I’d like to write about. I’d like to help preserve.”
Sklayne: Vortexes. Tasty.
Right. That’s the thing, isn’t it? So alluring, the temptation of the woo-woo. Sometimes I think it shadows the amazing nature of what’s already there. Because right there in Sedona, the world changes.
Sedona sits at the Mogollon Rim, the profound natural dividing line between the Colorado Plateau and the lower Basin & Range country. Spend a few winters in the higher northlands, and you know right where the snow line lays: Above Sedona, it’s chains and closed roads. Below it, the fog clears out and suddenly you’re driving clear and free.
Above Sedona, the land is all silent volcanoes and cinder fields supporting skiing and ponderosa pines growing thick and deep; the amazing San Francisco Peaks were formed by your classic hot-n-heavy volcano, topped by the classic dome explosion.
Below Sedona, it’s a quick descent through juniper scrub desert to the broad sloping valley bowl of classic hot, hot desert. Saguaro, prickly pear, cholla spring up, while grasses grow sparser by the moment. Picture your cowboy hero, crawling along the ground with his tongue hanging out, a rattler coiled up not far away.
And there in Sedona, you have it all, both above and below. North Sedona is full of canyons, swirling wind-formed rocks, Vultee Arch, and a plethora of stunning trails and views. As if I could resist taking the reckoning action out into those settings!
Lucia: I’m pretty sure you could have. Or warned me to pack hiking shoes. And, the way things turned out, a bulk pack of sanitary wipes.
Garrie: Bring it on! I’ve got ghostie vibes to hike out.
Sklayne: Squirrels! Tasteee!
Trevarr: [ ]
South of Sedona’s main road, the land plunges down into the red rocks–striking red bluffs in formations so distinctive they all have names (Snoopy, Lucy, Chimney Rock, The Mittens, The Cow Pies, the Rabbit Ears….). It looks like someone turned the Earth’s crust upside down and left us all gazing at the roots of the rock.
Truth is, I enjoy the woo-woo. The vortexes, both male and female in essence; the crammed, tight little shops along Highway 89. There you can get crystals, furs, a plethora of T-shirts bearing eagles, wolves, and largely misrepresented Indians, and–if you look in the right place–maybe a badger skull to add to the collection at home. (Ask me how I know.) Geodes, vortex tours, and any little thing with a whiff of New Age magic…this is the place! It’s all worth a little wallow.
But for me, the rich treasure of the area comes in the land, which carries a woo-woo all of its own–just because it is. And in the end, even if it was crystals and vortexes that tickled my idea generator, it was the land that drew me, and which helped drive this story. What the land and its creatures deserve.
Lucia: Let’s just sit on Sterling Ridge and look down on the pass for a while.
Garrie: Non-ethereal woo-woo. Want me some of this.
Trevarr: *just happens to be standing close to Garrie*
…Sklayne: When can I eat it?
first appeared more or less in this form, in the Tor newsletter
Sedona is one of those places that I both want to see and don’t want to go to. I’m not sure why the latter. I’m still trying to figure that out.
(By the way – you have such a wonderful way with words. Did you know that? 🙂
I think it’s one of those places that has such potential for coolness, there’s the concern you’ll find it spoiled. I was wary of its commercial aspects at first…just didn’t want to play that game. But no one makes any bones about it, where it exists…it’s just part of the gestalt, there to enjoy…
Ecotones–where the line of change is clear–always seem to have power outlets in the mix. The Edwards Plateau in central Texas is not as spectacular, being mostly white and gray rock, but there are places in it that send tingles up my back. There’s a spot in the Davis Mountains of West Texas and another in the Chisos of Big Bend. There are some in Utah (the Kolob Canyon sector of Zion National Park–a mostly red-rock section.) One in particular in Colorado. Here and there in Virginia and West Virginia. My friend Kathleen, who studied in Wales and also studied Celtic Christianity, called them “thin places”. I’ve found them in the UK (including Wales, on a path I know she walked.)
Some have gotten into my books, under other names (sometimes on other planets.) I think in some of us the old attachment to land is just stronger than in other people. But it’s always an edge situation: rock to sand, or trees to grass, or steeper height to flatter lowland, etc. At least for me.
Well, Elizabeth and Doranna, as I read your posts, tingles crept up my neck.
Hetch Hetchy must of been the one such place for John Muir as it broke is his heart when it was filled as a reservoir.
Tomorrow I will ride up to gather the cows and find a little magic in the horse sweat, the cow smell and the immediacy of the land, which sits near the high point between Tierra Amarilla and Tres Piedras.
Now, THAT sounds like good magic!