Company of Friends
That pretty much sums up my first hike to Aravaipa Canyon on Dec. 6. Sure, you’re crossing the creek about 70 percent of the time, which means wet, wet feet. But, oddly, that squishy-squashy feeling provided some delight and extra cushion! The unseasonably warm 68-degree weather was also helpful.
I’ll admit, up front, that I started the hike by falling in the water. I was trying to ‘stay dry’ and attempted to cross a fallen tree. Let’s just say that I would have gotten less wet by trekking through the water like everyone else. A spill like that is always good for a laugh, though (and I’m lucky that dear husband suggested he take the camera from my neck before my daredevil – I mean stupid – stunt. I nearly went under!)
This canyon is filled with geologic wonders, which meant I was generally trailing behind, with the camera snapping (I blew through the batteries, somehow, in the first hour, which meant Don’s water purification system was useless, since he offered up his Energizers! Whining will get you everywhere!).
The leaves of the Fremont Cottonwoods, Arizona Ash, and Sycamores were also changing colors, making the scenery that much more vibrant. I was able to see igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks I’ve never seen – in peaches, pinks, and glassy black obsidian. I saw crenulated folding from intense metamorphic pressure and volcanism, stream formation in action, and erosional processes – all things I’ve been learning in my geology class. Did I mention that I came home with a sack full of rocks? [See more Aravaipa photos on my Twitpic page.]
I honestly can’t think of anything better: being that immersed in nature, and being with great friends who appreciated it just as much. I highly recommend it, as it rejuvenates the senses! And, besides, when the friends in your group address you as “just a kid” – as you’re knocking on the big 4-0’s door –you gotta love that!
For Writers: Friends. This trip made me think about friendship quite a bit – and how very lucky we are to have found good friends in our rural paradise. It made me think about how vitally important friends are in novels, as well … especially to your protagonist.
In my first novel, I had created such a large family for my main character (MC) – which meant loads of supporting characters – that I had forgotten to provide her with an honest-to-goodness friend.
But then I realized how badly she needed a sounding board, and that comic relief was definitely in order. In Chris Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, he discusses the importance of various archetypes. While some of these archetypes can have ‘negative’ qualities, they can also become those all-so-important friends to your MC.
- Mentors: can be dark, fallen, comic in nature, young or old, provide training/motivation, offer a code of ethics.
- Shapeshifters: change constantly from your MC’s point of view, can mislead her, keep her guessing, but also can be a catalyst for her positive change.
- Tricksters: are the comical sidekicks who cut big egos down to size, bring the MC down to Earth, and stir up trouble.
Aren’t all of those qualities things you’ve witnessed in your real-life friends? Don’t we all have a clown in the bunch, a mentor, a complicated, shapeshifting character, whom we call friend?
Who is your protagonist’s friend? A mentor, a trickster? A combination of both? What role does the friend play in the story? As an author, do you think you can ‘get away’ without having that special confidant in your fiction? Or in life? I don’t …
And I already have that friend in place on my second work of fiction. Not surprising to those who know how much I love the desert southwest, that confidant is an aging ranch hand – a once spectacular cowboy in his heyday, and a wise mentor at the end of his journey.