Nov 5 2012


Melissa Crytzer Fry

Road trips, I think, may be a writer’s best friend – mostly because they seem to spur that kind of reflection that doesn’t seem to happen behind a computer monitor.

I love this photo, taken in northern Arizona, which illustrates the reflection of pine trees in shallow water. Click to enlarge.

Given that I was headed with hubby to visit my little sister in Flagstaff (five hours away), where she attends Northern Arizona University – I had plenty of time for reflection.

Mainly, I asked myself how it was possible that I was going to celebrate her twenty-first birthday… how it was possible that she’s a college junior. We’re not sisters by blood, but we are sisters by heart. We were paired by Big Brothers Big Sisters when she was in fourth grade, and I can’t imagine a more perfect ‘match.’ What age was she then? Nine? What age am I now? Ahem… We won’t go there. Reflections.

Another reflective photo in Flagstaff – mountains on the receding waters of Mormon Lake. Click to enlarge.

Suffice it to say that the trip was memorable as usual, amid Flagstaff’s volcanic mountain ranges. The basalt, andesite and ash fragments littering the public parks fulfilled my geologic appetite once again.

Hubby stopped to set up his portable radio along the way, while I wandered about Mormon Lake snapping photos, still reflecting on the wonderful young woman my little sister has become.

This is Ham Radio Boy in action alongside Mormon Lake, outside of Flagstaff. Click to enlarge.

I’m always amazed at the things I don’t see until I look closely. I hadn’t noticed the cobwebs on these flowers until the sun reflected from them in my viewfinder ... A literal reminder of the illuminating power of reflection. Click to enlarge.

I loved the layers in this close-up: a hint of mountains and trees reflected in the water, high and low spots of failing fall grass, and the rusty color of autumn toward the water. If you look closely, you can also see animal trails. Click to enlarge.

As I gazed at the mountains and pines so foreign to our low desert, I thought about the figurative mountains this young lady, my sister, has climbed – bigger than Mt. Humphrey’s in the distance (a stratovolcano). I am proud – so proud of all she has accomplished.

For Readers & Writers: All this reflection got me to thinking about books and the role of reflection after we’ve closed the flaps on a good story. I think the most memorable of books spur that kind of reflection – about self, about surroundings, about hard-to-answer questions, about humanity, about nature. What book(s) kept you thinking well after reading that final page? Why? What story won’t stop replaying itself in your mind?

Oct 24 2012

Spooky Spines

Melissa Crytzer Fry

Most of us, during childhood (usually on one of those long car trips, foreheads pressed against the cool glass) have played the cloud game: searching the billowy skies for recognizable shapes. Discovering objects sometimes hilarious. Sometimes a stretch. Sometimes creepy.

A few weeks ago when I took a hike with my friend Kathy, clouds weren’t the carriers of these hidden images. Over and over, I saw things ‘not really there’ among cactus spines and rotted plant carcasses. And in the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d share a few.

Do you see what I see below?

Tell me I'm not the only one who sees a face and an "o" shaped mouth on this crested saguaro arm to the right. Click to enlarge.

I've never before seen saguaro skeletons with these tendrils hanging from them. With the dark clouds in the background, I saw Medusa-like snake curls hanging from this dead saguaro. Click to enlarge.

Look closely. Do you see the "orbs" covering this saguaro? (Okay - so I've watched too many ghost-hunting shows). While I know this is nothing more than the sun glinting off my dirty camera lens, I started wondering about ghosts when I downloaded this shot. Click to enlarge.

Yes, we're back to the coveted crested saguaro I've named Bertha. And this may be the creepiest thing I saw. Look at the 'arm' on the right (foreground). Do you see the chin pushed out, the pug-like nose, the ridges of the brow on top, the eye sockets? Do you also see the alien-shaped head and eyes on the arm in the back (left)? Click to enlarge.

I took a half-dozen shots of this crooked cactus, and each time, that wispy, ethereal halo formed about the top of the cactus. Spoooky. Click to enlarge.

For Readers & Writers: The cactus isn’t usually a symbol of fear in the literary world. But many objects, critters and settings are. What images symbolize fear in the novels you read? In your own novels? Are they the standard symbols – ravens and spiders – or something altogether unique?