Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Buddha to Broncos

Imminent chances of precipitation lent us cause to procrastate on facing down the Flatirons again this weekend.

Silver grey clouds covered the sky in a downy blanket this morning. Our host invited us to a ceremony at the Buddhist Temple of Unity in Apache Junction. We decided it would be a great way to start a day.

Outside the the building I saw a small altar with a jade Buddha surrounded by silk flowers. It looked serene despite the gusty day.

We took our shoes off at the entrance and quietly joined the room full of people. The three monks sat at the far end of the room, concentrating on a chant. The ceremony ended to a feast of at least thirty different Thai dishes. Everyone appreciated the variety and quality of the offered food.

We sat where there was room, conversation between strangers slowly kindling smiles. after the repast, we went back outside. Volunteers handed out bundles of incense and small yellow beeswax candles with flowers.

The monks came out and did a blessing, the began a procession that went around the altar three times in a large circle. We each added our flowers, candles, and incense at the altar.

I gave thanks for the opportunity to participate in the tranquil fellowship. Unity. Various ethnicities, all coming together to share in a blessing on a silver sky day.

After leaving the eastern peace we rode west. Right to the Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo. From Buddha to Broncos we exploring the cultures found miles apart, worlds apart-just across town?!

We walked past the bright metal rides, games, and other carnival attractions. We listened to country music on a stage as we passed vendors. From beautiful native american pottery to hats, hats, more hats and homemade soda we perused the range of predictable prefabricated generic sales displays and gifted artisans with high quality hand made wares.

We took our time, we hemmed and hawed. We finally bought tickets. We wondered why we were so slow within a minute of seeing the first competitor rope a calf.

We watched on the edge of our seats as barrel racing, calf tying, and other tests of skill and timing continued. We were slack jawed, clapping with admiration at the various contestants. It wasn't easy, they were all amazing.

Growing up, neighbors had been active in rodeo competitions. Memory brought up some of their stories and awards. Now I had context for the skill and danger. I was relieved to see cowboys in helmets and some padding as the bronco and bull-riding commenced.

It was funny to look at the Superstition Mountains through the cheerful rainbow signs and eye catching lights of the carnival next to the rodeo arena. There was a sea of hats, denim and leather. Waldo would have stood out like the sore thumb in a picture of one hundred hammers.

Thursday night we'd gone to The Hitching Post, where there were several live horses hitched waiting for their wandering riders. The waitress told us it was bull riding night. We had assumed machine, our mistake. Watching the rodeo, I wish we'd have taken a moment to go look. A woman told me of the bravery of the people who tried, it wasn't professionaals that night.

She talked about seeing the children riding sheep. She was impressed. I was intrigued. Sheep riding? After the rodeo, there was sheep riding. Gutsy kids age four and up got to don a helmet and try their hand at a safer version of bull riding. It was cute to watch. The kids were braver at four than some adults ever are!

Well done Davis family, I've always admired your rodeo stories and skills but now I can really visualize them!