Let’s rewind to four Septembers ago.
I’m standing inside the majestic Hallgrímskirkja, a volcano-esque chapel towering over Reykjavík’s seaside skyline in Iceland. As the choir croons a hymn, Heyr himna smiður, I learn the fascinating history of this remote country’s medieval folk music.
Above the arctic circle, the sun doesn’t muster a peep over the horizon all winter. Blackness, despair and unbearable cold quickly turned fatal. And yet, in the middle of this disconsolate season came Jól — Christmas — a massive banquet that reverberated notions of communion and cycles of renewal.
All the while, Icelanders sang hauntingly bittersweet hymns like Heyr himna smiður, a sonant prayer not to be forgotten in the darkness.
Summers in the Sonoran Desert bear a common but converse theme, as impeccably encapsulated in Monica D. Spencer’s riveting collection of pieces about the Maricopa residents who lost their lives to a historic heat wave this summer — ironically, only to end up inside the coroner’s cooler.
But here, in this final edition of our magazine before the autumn leaves begin to crisp, Ms. Spencer juxtaposes this tragic resolve with those Maricopans who are surviving the hottest summer ever recorded; friends, neighbors and strangers who risk their own safety to build our houses, repair our power lines and even fight our fires.
A summer that claims lives alludes to rebirth for others. Take Maricopa’s Jacob Cowing, the University of Arizona wide receiver who’s embarking on a new football season. He’s closer than ever to his son.
How about the local politician standing up to her own party to ease a burden on the people of our city? Justin Griffin explores both stories in this edition of InMaricopa.
And let’s not forget the momentous milestone this great magazine surpassed recently when we published our 25,000th story. How blessed I am not just to have arrived in time to celebrate a freshly rejuvenated mission to eclipse 50,000 stories (too soon? I think not!) but also to see one of my own that you might remember from last month’s edition in our curated list of the 25 most-read pieces en route to that waypoint. It’s a gallery I have no doubt you’ll thoroughly enjoy.
Like Jól for the Icelanders, this is a liminal time for us in Maricopa. As such, I can’t think of a better one to reflect upon our lives, our community and our aspirations for both.
And I’d be remiss not to mention my piece in this edition, “Raising Kane,” the fascinating story of a one-time world record-holding masseuse who turned to a life of anarchy.
As always, thank you for reading InMaricopa.
Oh, before you go… Did you find this letter interesting? If so, look forward to next month’s edition, where I interview with an Icelander who moved to Maricopa three years ago! That’s gonna require a new wardrobe…
The September edition of InMaricopa Magazine is in Maricopa mailboxes and available online.