I have lived most of my adult life on the east coast of the United States, where I spent the majority of my time raising a family, and teaching singing to middle and high schoolers. Back then, I was also doing lots of writing, but the only things that made it out of my file drawers at that time, were theatrical productions I created for my students.
During those years I lived in some beautiful places, most of them along the eastern seaboard. For a short while, I even lived in Munich, Germany. The one thing all these varied landscapes had in common was that they were either city or suburb living. That all changed when I began visiting Northern Arizona with my family more than a decade ago. It didn’t take us long to all fall in love with the natural beauty and history of this region. Seven years ago, we made the decision to move here permanently.
With that move my life changed dramatically. Every day, I would walk out the door with my dog, Lucy, and we’d enter into this vivid landscape of color and wide open spaces. I’d walk among towering red rocks, and box canyons dotted with the fresh green of scrubby pine and juniper. It didn’t matter whether the sky was a cloudless blue, or the darkening grey of a coming storm. All the colors of the sky enhanced the beauty of the land all around me. It amazed me, how Lucy and I could walk for miles and not see a single person. Out in that wilderness we needed each other to find the paths, steer clear of snakes, and to chase off the roving packs of coyotes. Together we spotted elk, deer, jackrabbits, and all manner of birds and lizards. I was enchanted, and all the while, I would wonder about those who may have walked these paths before me.
Cha’risa’s Gift was my way of trying to share this beautiful gift with others, giving people something of what it feels like to be immersed in the magical beauty and wildness that is Northern Arizona.