Red Is The Color

My regular hiking shoes are olive green. Here is a picture of them:

This photo is not a cruel joke on those with red-green color blindness. Rather, it’s a testament to the tenacity of the red dust that erodes from the little red stones that fall from the massive red rocks that surround and define the Sedona region, the lion’s share of their visible vertical height composed of iron-rich Schnebly Hill Sandstone. As you hike about the countryside here, red dominates the visual field, clearly, though there is also more green than I would have predicted given the dry climate, with chlorophyll evident in both the expected desert cacti and agave and yucca and such, and from surprisingly diverse and robust communities of trees in the many protected forest wilderness regions. There are also white, yellow, blue and grey bands in the rocks, but their narrow vertical faces really just make the dominant red seem more, well, dominant.

The red rocks tend to make one notice other reds, too, most especially those evident around sunrise and sunset:

In between the big scenery formations and the dust that coats everything, there’s plenty of smaller, broken red rocks too, in transition. They are helped along on their journey back to particulate state by wind and rain and lichens, some of which seem to be notably friendly:

The wildlife gets involved in the red palette too. I’ve put up four bird-feeders around our property. The first guest that arrived at the one outside my office window was this handsome fellow (sorry for the blurry shot):

I had always thought it was kind of dumb that the National Football League team based in the Phoenix metro areas kept the name “Cardinals” after they moved from Missouri, since I never associated that particular species with Arizona. But here I am, and here they are. Learn something new every day!

Red comes indoors, too, not only on our shoes. The wooden floors in our house are reddish, even without a coating of dust from outdoors. And yesterday, we had the first chilly and rainy day since moving into the new digs. So we created our own additional red ambience while staying roasty toasty under our blankets:

I was staring into that fire soon after I made it, and the family iPod queued up a much-loved song, “Red” by Jarboe, from her 1991 debut solo album, Thirteen Masks. We’ve been listening to Jarboe a lot of late, since watching the outstanding documentary Where Does A Body End?, about her former band, Swans. I learned more and gained more useful perspective about a band I adore from Jarboe’s interviews than I did from anything else in the film. She’s a brilliant and thoughtful artist, and also a fellow native Southerner, from the other major region of the country where everything turns red eventually, though it’s a product of sticky clay there, rather than adhesive dust. I associate that form of red earth with my father’s home country, in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, where I used to romp and stomp about along creeks and in woods that left their ferrous marks on everything that happened to touch ground around them.

At bottom line, Jarboe’s early song was just so very perfect for the moment and the mood here. It sounded great. It felt right. I loved it, again, all these years on from acquiring that album way back when we lived in Idaho, with a baby crawling about the house, who’s now pushing 30 years old. The title of this post is the first line of the lyrics from “Red;” the full text with explanatory annotations by Jarboe are available at her website, here. She describes the song’s meaning as “deliberately intense, disturbing, perverse.” It was produced and mixed by Jim “Foetus” Thirlwell, another long-time favorite musical genius. I’ve embedded the song below so you can spin it, and I commend it to you, strongly, along with the rest of Jarboe’s still-evolving and always-challenging catalog. You’re better red . . .


One thought on “Red Is The Color

  1. Pingback: What’s Up in the Neighborhood, December 12, 2020 – Chuck The Writer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s