Friday, December 18, 2009

Las Noches de las Luminarias

We have visited Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden twice in the past 10 months, and both times have been after dark. Our first visit was to see the Dale Chihuly exhibit of glass sculptures, and most recently we visited during Las Noches de las Luminarias.

It was dusk when Kate and I, my aunt Evelyn, her daughter Raina and Raina's friend Jesse entered the Garden. Our path was marked by thousands of hand-lit luminarias that encouraged a slow pace through the collection of desert plants.

In a way it was unfortunate that dusk did not last about four hours. The glow of sunset merged with the flickering light from the luninarias to cast a magical glow over the desert plants.

This saguaro cactus, the magnificent symbol of the Southwest, seemed even more majestic silhouetted against the last light of day.

I fell behind the others as I studied the different angles from which to view this scene.

The glow of the luminarias was just enough to follow the paths and to avoid rocks on the dirt paths, but it was not enough by which to identify the path taken by the others in our group. Fortunately, members of our party found me.

As we followed the paths, we could hear musical selections from eleven different groups. One of the first stops was to listen to the Chris Burton Jácome Flamenco Ensemble.

As we listened to the selections, we could hear the sound of a tambourine, but could not find its source. Only after a "search," did we identify the player. The percussionist had his right foot on the tambourine. Pushing down on the heel of his shoe raised the front of the tambourine; dropping the toe end of his shoe produced the familiar sound.

We continued our walk around the Garden, guided by a map to some degree but more often by the sounds of other music. On the way, we paused at some of the desert scenes.

But there were more groups to be heard and more scenes at which to marvel.

No comments: