Late this Spring some wonderful ladies and I had the opportunity to hike to Fossil Creek just outside of Strawberry, Arizona. A steep path leads from the top of the rim four miles or so to the creek bed. If you did not know the area, you would pause here, stare at the dry creek bed, and say “what’s the big deal?” Follow the creek bed for another mile or so and you will see why this area has been charming visitors for years. Suddenly the dry scrub of the region gives way to towering sycamores, green lush grass and the sound of running water. We in Arizona hold such a sound sacred, as water is scarce and always cherished. Here, under the roots of a huge old tree is where you will discover a spring gushing 20,000 gallons a minute at a constant 72degrees. Turn the corner and it gets better, a deep turquoise pool awaits you, where you can rid yourself of your hiking clothes, and your cares, and swim the afternoon away. In the summer, this site can be full of hearty hikers and backpackers, but on this trip… we had it all to ourselves. Cool and refreshed, we hiked out of the canyon in the late afternoon. As we ascended, we enjoyed the diverse plant life of the region. There were many wildflowers blooming that even the most botanically experienced in our group had not seen before. At the top the trail, we found an enormous agave that had sent up it stalk to flower. Winding in and through the rigid leaves were tender weed-like vines. It was stunning. The juxtaposition was irresistible to me. It reminded me of how truly our region is so full of contrasts. Dry creek beds and gushing springs, drenching monsoon showers on the hottest day, even the colors of the Grand Canyon are perfect contrasts to each other. Grateful for the day and the company of such wonderful friends, I photographed the great agave, and let it linger in my mind until it was time to paint it. Life is full of blessings, both great and small.