Greetings, One & All~
Based on the sheer volume and variety of your July Photos of the Month, you could be forgiven for assuming that all we do is roam around Rancho Improvisoso all day every day taking nature pictures; actually, it’s been a most eventful and productive couple of months here in Willyworld since your combined May/June issue, with a balanced blend of touring, local gigs, personal creative work and major home improvements. That said, the blessings of nature have indeed been abundant here in the Sonoran Desert as summer unfolds, and continue to provide us with daily inspiration. Enjoy the Full Buck Supermoon on July 3rd, along with all the illuminating news and views here in your July 2023 A 440 Newsletter. Be well and be in touch!
New STC Single
Without missing a beat, your favorite contemporary instrumental/new world music trio STC delivers a brand new single Kora Drive on July 1st. Multiple formats for streaming and downloading this genre-transcending musica sin fronteras–as well as cool info about and contact info for the band–can be accessed through our website:
cover art, photography & graphics courtesy Joe Townend Media
The Wilde Boys
Spiraling ever outward, upward and onward toward their next rendezvous, R. Carlos Nakai, William Eaton & Will Clipman will perform in the pristine acoustic environment of Kitt Recital Hall at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff at 3 PM on Sunday July 16th; the concert will be followed by an informal audience-participatory trialogue among the musicians on the subject of Improvising Life.
photo courtesy R.C. Clipman Photography
Norwegian-American vocalist, composer & multi-midi-instrumentalist Solvei returns to Tucson July 19th-25th to resume creative development of her latest recording project with virtuoso bassist & violinist Rob Paulus and yours truly on drums & pan-global percussion. The dozen cuts we have in the can are being re-mixed for mastering by LA-based mixmaster Ben Sedano, and the material is sounding better than ever. The core trio will also begin working up live versions of Solvei’s multi-layered, trance-groove/new world music songs with an ear to performing this repertoire live in the not-too-distant future, possibly with other stellar Old Pueblo players on board. Stay tuned!
photo courtesy Solvei Music
On Sunday July 23rd at 10 AM I’ll return to Unity in the Valley in Sahuarita AZ for my monthly musical service with alt-folk singer-songwriter, peace activist & Unity musical director Amber Norgaard: always an uplifting and thought-provoking communion with my soul sister in song and all the good folks who call Unity their spiritual home.
Photos of the Month
And now for the veritable plethora of wild wonders aforementioned in my introduction, fortuitously snapped by yours truly except where noted (ever the inveterate punster and acronymist, I’ve dubbed my own amateur photographic entity ICU Imagery).
In this first frame, I spied our resident bobcat statuesquely poised in stalking mode in the west driveway looking east one recent morning, her absolute focus on breakfast. Thankfully, none of our resident bunnies made it onto the menu. . . this time?!
Absolute Focus (ICU Imagery)
In a perfect example of right time-right place, my brother Craig happened to step out of the studio with his camera in hand and capture our resident female great horned owl supervising flying lessons for her two new owlets.
Watchful Momma & Fledglings (R.C. Clipman Photography)
Our owl family did not return to nest in the palm tree in our walled yard this year as we had hoped they would; but knowing that they were still living in the neighborhood prompted me to try to call one in as I stood at the sink doing dinner dishes one recent evening. Right on cue, Papa Owl landed on the waterbowl outside the kitchen window for a pre-hunt dusk drink, whereupon I stage-whispered to Shery to grab her camera and come see, resulting in this painterly portrait.
Pre-Hunt Dusk Drink (Shery Christopher Photography)
In the extremely hot and dry weather of late Spring and early summer, thirsty mule deer are frequent visitors at Rancho Improvisoso as they pass through on their way from the Tucson Mountains down to the Santa Cruz River in the late afternoon to browse the succulent greenery there. These two does do not appear to have missed any meals!
Wary & Thirsty (ICU Imagery)
I nicknamed this third one Olivia when she came by earlier on a different day to nibble leaves from our olive tree and wash down her snack with a deep drink from the ground-level waterbowl strategically placed in the shade beneath the hanging feeders, with one of our window hummingbird feeders in the foreground completing the framing.
I See You Seeing Me! (ICU Imagery)
This little dragon (actually a large collared lizard) found a cool spot on a big rock next to the aforementioned waterbowl in the shade of the olive tree, regulating its cold-blooded body temperature in fine increments by doing “push-ups” to position its belly closer to and farther from the surface of the stone.
Keeping My Cool (ICU Imagery)
Ever the keen-eyed observer of natural beauty, my brother Craig noticed the first dahlia of the season blooming in the dark in Shery’s elevated box planter under the ramada, on his way out from having joined us for dinner one recent evening.
First Bloom (R.C. Clipman Photography)
We’ve been blessed over the years to have had at least three generations of the same Cooper’s hawk family take up residence on our property, and Harriet III is a regular visitor both to the standing waterbowl in the south yard outside the kitchen window and her favorite one under the mesquite trees in the west yard: her defiant stare lets me know she’s not the least bit shy about having her picture taken!
You lookin’ at ME?! (ICU Imagery)
These two juvenile hooded orioles are enjoying a lunch of nectar-coated ants–which the hummers appreciate them eating–on one of our kitchen window hummingbird feeders; the appearance of these youngsters lets us know our migratory mating pair of adults has returned again this year from their winter habitat in Mexico to raise a new family.
Lunch Date (Shery Christopher Photography)
I rather abruptly crossed paths with this gorgeous Western Diamondback on my way out to the greenhouse the other day and observed it getting a drink from our pool, a behavior I had never witnessed before in all my many snake encounters here at Rancho Improvisoso. When it had slaked its thirst, it nonchalantly turned and gracefully slithered back into the cool shade under our big yellow jasmine bush to enjoy a late morning nap.
Slitherin’ ‘n’ Sippin’ (ICU Imagery)
The Old Pueblo is famous for its routinely spectacular sunrises and sunsets, especially as the monsoon season approaches and the sky begins to fill with rain-laden cumulus clouds. I called Shery’s attention to these radiant beams of sunlight bursting forth from behind a cloudbank while I was skimming the pool for an evening swim; ever the visionary nature photographer, she grabbed her camera and seized the moment to capture this image.
Beam Me Up (Shery Christopher Photography)
And to close out your virtual stroll around Rancho Improvisoso, feast your eyes on this brilliantly fiery summer solstice sunset, as we welcome the change of season with abundant gratitude for nature’s boundless beauty. Enjoy!
Summer Solstice Sunset (Shery Christopher Photography)
Poem of the Month
Your July Poem of the Month was composed over the course of my Power of Sacred Sound retreat at Canyon Ranch, conducted in partnership with senior spiritual wellness provider, indigenous flutist & freestyle rapper Adam Smith, and resident crystal bowl healing artist & soul song singer Tryshe Dhevney. I contributed my udu voodoo to the proceedings, and together we facilitated a joyful experience for all who joined us on this journey into transformational vibration.
The Eightfold Path
(Canyon Ranch, Tucson Arizona; May 25-28, 2023)
My word is wordlessness,
spoken in the language of raven
and sung to the rhythm of running water,
which is the sound of paradise
to a desert dweller.
In silence all sounds are significant:
I hear the one in all
and the all in one.
The stream has gone underground
but it is still flowing.
Everything in nature has a soul,
a fragrance, a voice.
Each sparkling grain of sand
is a universe unto itself.
Unexplored galaxies await within,
illuminated by ancient starlight.
Once the pebble is tossed into the pond
the ripples continue out to infinity:
the surface reflection is shattered,
yet there is a wholeness to the pattern.
All movement is a spiral rising ever outward
and upward: a hawk riding the thermals.
Into the center we travel, and once centered
we travel back out into silence and stillness.
Tears are the raindrops
that make our souls grow.
Our skin glistens with relinquished inner moisture,
reminding us that after all we are mostly water.
What is the point of this brief
flash of a moment we call a lifetime
if not the pristine note of a teardrop,
the unifying flow of our water into all water?
(Watsu Pools, 5/27/23)
Many voices, one song;
many tones, one harmony;
many souls, one goal;
many parts, one whole.
The ancient willows are still;
a turtle basks immobile in warm sun.
Mourning dove answers the call of the flute
with its three-note song: I am here.
Water moves as it always does,
polishing rock to its inner smoothness.
Change is the only thing that doesn’t change!
The lotus is rooted in the pond’s primeval mud,
yet through its stem rises the impeccable blossom.
The most turbid water will clear eventually
as vibration settles into stillness and calm.
A turtle surfaces and lifts its head above the water
to listen to the heartbeat of my drum:
there are no wrong notes, no misplaced beats,
only the graceful cattails yearning toward light.
The door may be locked, but joy is within:
peer through the window and see beyond the reflection.
Move beyond the past, through the present and into the future:
everything that has ever happened or ever will happen
is happening right now.
Sit in this one perfect pool of shade;
rest awhile on this perfectly cool boulder.
Feel the hummingbird’s fierce heartbeat
teaching us to sip the nectar of joy
wheresoe’er we may find it.
Know that you can never be locked out of you.
You hold the sacred clay drum
but do you know when not to play?
Sanctuary may be found
in the spaces between breaths,
in the silences between heartbeats.
That which is not is not nothing:
it is the something within which all that is
© Will Clipman 2023
(Spirit Path™ and Watsu Pools™ are registered trademarks of Canyon Ranch®)
Sacred Clay at Rest
Adam, Tryshe & Will
~May your July be filled with illumination~
~If one is frugal in one’s wants and desires, what one truly needs will manifest in abundance.
poet ~ percussionist ~ maskmaker ~ storyteller ~ performing artist ~ educator
Illuminating News & Views: Your July 2023 A 440 Newsletter
Greetings, One & All~