Nearly every morning last week Sedona residents awoke in a haze.

It wasn’t a haze of sleepiness holding over from the night before, but a smoky haze blanketing the entire Verde Valley.

A forest fire near Flagstaff sent smoke down the hill that settled in the bowl naturally created between the Mogollon Rim and the Black Hills. The smoke settled in the cool night air greeting us when the sun came up.

This is a price we pay for old fire policies calling for all natural forest fires to be put out immediately.

In the past, forest fires were thought to be threatening and were drowned as quickly as possible.

Since that time, our forest managers discovered fire’s role in an ecosystem’s cycle. Fire is necessary for forests to rejuvenate themselves, and some plant species don’t exist at all without it.

Years of playing Whack-A-Mole with fires left our forests overgrown and out of their natural balance.

Now, forest managers are trying to compensate with a more hands-off approach to managing naturally occurring wildfires. Forest managers also authorize prescribed burns in the fall.

As was the case with Northern Arizona’s most recent fire, forest managers allow fire to participate in balancing the ecosystem as long as it doesn’t threaten civilization. The result is dealing with smoky air and the side effects it creates.

When my throat and eyes were burning last week it was hard for me to remember the importance of fire in the forest. My respiratory system begged for a break. Maybe it’s Mother Nature’s way of reminding us she knows what she’s doing and sometimes we need to step aside and let the forces of nature take care of the Earth.

The sweltering days of summer seem to have slipped away as cooler temperatures arrive in Sedona, bringing with them festivities galore.

Fall brings Sedona’s best weather and with it comes a lineup of events even the city’s socialites may not be able to keep up with.

The Sedona Main Street Program kicked off the fall event season with its Moonlight Madness celebration over Labor Day weekend, attracting visitors and residents alike to Uptown.

The event lineup continues full-steam ahead this weekend not giving anyone a break.
Fiesta del Tlaquepaque celebrates Mexican Independence Day in the arts and crafts village located in Gallery Row with traditional music and dancing.

Head to West Sedona and the fifth annual GumptionFest brings local musicians and artists together to celebrate Sedona’s diverse art scene.

Rounding out the month of September will be Celebrate Your Spirit, a personal enrichment festival Saturday, Sept. 18, and Sedona’s first wine festival Saturday, Sept. 25, in conjunction with Sedona Airport Day and Classic Car Show.

October kicks off with what promoters are calling a “blockbuster weekend.”

Sedona Jazz on the Rocks returns Saturday, Oct. 2, after a year hiatus to reorganize the event. On the same day, Sedona holds its second annual book festival.

The Sedona Arts Festival raises money for student art scholarships and programs with its annual art sale in October.

Chamber Music Sedona kicks off its season in mid-October with The Santa Fe Guitar Quartet and the Sedona Plein Air festival brings artists back to the city to paint the beautiful fall landscape.

West Sedona School is also in the beginning stages of planning a fair for the entire community.
Appropriately, Sedona Main Street Program also ends the busy event season with Uptown trick-or-treating on Halloween, Sunday, Oct. 31.

Festivities don’t ease up until November and even then there will be holiday parties and events to attend.

Sedona residents can’t complain there isn’t anything to do here. They will be too busy attending events every weekend.

Over the past year the Sedona Red Rock News has begun strictly enforcing our guidelines when it comes to letters to the editor, and particularly the length requirement.

Letters are required to be 300 words or less, and if they’re longer, I send them back to the author and ask him or her to revise the letter.

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