Thursday, January 5, 2012

French Joe Canyon

I attended a poetry group last evening where we read and received comments.  They’re an attentive group, listeners, and their reactions gave no offense.

I followed Wyatt Earp today into the Whetstone Mountains, where after deciding he could not rely on civil justice, took matters into his own hands and hunted down the outlaws in these remote and rugged mountains.  The above picture is not from the poetry meeting, but from a mile of private land I had to cross getting to what is now the Forest Service boundary and French Joe Canyon.  It has nothing to do with the poetry group.

Today, the literature of Coronado National Forest calls the Whetstone Mountains “One of the least accessible areas in our jurisdiction.  The dirt roads have not been maintained in years, and the trails have all but disappeared.”

I started toward the mountains on the shortest road by map, but soon found that my Toyota Tacoma was no match for it.  This road is for jeeps or macho pickups.  So I parked and walked toward the mouth of French Joe Canyon.

The road petered out, and a trail was still traceable for awhile, but soon I was simply going up the canyon, climbing over boulders and trying to avoid sharp agave and yucca spears.

A spring feeds the residents here, so the cactus had to go, leaving cottonwoods, Arizona live oaks, and various green shrubs in a small enclave within a cactus land.

Mesquite, you unlovely tree
nothing about you inspires poems
just when we want you lovely most
when times are dry like now
you drop your leaves as if to die
What about you can we find to love?


Three voices singing
Chain fruit cholla


  1. Harsh vegetation for sure! I don't think that I would even want to attempt those roads in a jeep or 4x4! Walking it is really the best way to travel for that total, at one with nature, experience. Climbing over boulders does not appeal to me though. I find the desert very beautiful. Colors are pale and muted year round, which I find very appealing as a landscape artist. However, come the out! Brilliant florals of yellow, reds, purples, blues, oranges, popping up everywhere! Adds the sparkle to an artist's canvas! : ) I read that there are several old mines near the Whetstone mountains? jTake heed if you go near! A blogger said that he and his father had a rough time with wasps! Wish we were there to feel, see, and smell the quiet with you, Sharon!

  2. Wow You always have some thing special for us. What a lucky woman. I can claim that you are best nice and all ways good but I hate your by cycle because it took u away from me. lol

    With love and respect,

  3. No sign of French Joe the person? Only his good friends remain. :o)

  4. Yes, Gail, it is harsh, and quiet, and it can be lonesome. I saw or heard on one in the Whetstones today. No sign of French Joe, Steven. The desert is truly beautiful even as it is harsh. The mesquite tree understands and knows how to act. I will not see the floral colors you remember, Gail, as it is winter; only the few confused ones who think it might be spring. I saw no mines or wasps, Gail, no rattlesnakes or scorpions, though I am watchful for them. And you are there, closer than most.

    Rashad, you are funny, and also nice.


  5. Hello there, Sharon, we're late to the party, Taura and Rick and I were having our own private party here, minus the cows and boulders. I did photograph the 400 year old tree on campus that barely but elegantly survived the windstorms here a month ago... but today as sweet and warm yet vibrant a day as ever there was in the world. I had almost forgotten where we live. But today was evidence. Also today I met the super novae and also very good novae and missed you at spicy lentil and wine time... and so here we go into another day. By the way Taura's roomate found a (cement) chair with my name on it around the corner from her house! It has a hassock with a speaker coming out of it... and my voice speaks a poem... (about Pasadena) (and the wild parrots and good bagels...) isn't that funny?) Miss you and I am already wondering which Friday night should we schedule for your Tucson salon...???

  6. I think French Joe is probably a Medoc that Sharon brings to our salon from Trader Joe's called "Amour" which we just finished off today, Taura, Rick and I ... we'll be sure to have some French Joe here waiting with Amour when you return, all of you!!!

  7. So the other day was evidence of where you live, was it Kathabela—parrots and bagels and your own voice coming out of a rock? I am beginning to think it depends on how long you live, which is shorter than the San Gabriels, but that’s my perspective these days in this mostly-bare rock and sand of time. I see cousins of the Los Angeles River, sister piedmont slopes of Pasadena, and wonder how they will look in a mere thousand years.

    I do like the equation that perhaps you transcribed from Rick’s musings: Medoc Amore a la Trader Joes = French Joe. I say that with a glass of Two-Buck Joe.

  8. Haha Sharon, funny you should say that, Chuck came for dinner tonight... Taura's roommate, who discovered by voice coming out of a rock... and I served him "Found Object"!

  9. susanrogers49@yahoo.comJanuary 7, 2012 at 12:07 AM

    I was hoping the cows were part of the poetry group.
    They looked like they would be attentive.

  10. Thanks Susan for joining in here and on a prior post. Yes, the cows were quite attentive to my words, more so than many groups of listeners.

  11. I'm not sure about that poetry group. They look a little judgmental but hey you talked to them I didn't. :) Happy as always to read your happy trails. I'm mostly lurking and on the run this time but enjoying nevertheless!

  12. Yes Lois, I think they questioned my motives, might not have accepted my premise.