Out of Arizona

Huachuca Mountain at sunset

I had a ranch in Arizona at the foot of the Huachuca Mountains. The border with Mexico runs across these highlands, for hundreds of miles to the east and west, and the ranch lay at an altitude of over four thousand feet. In the daytime you felt that you had got high up; near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were chilly.*

(*These are the immortal words of Isak Dinesen who wrote about her coffee farm in Africa. I bastardized them to describe our acreage here in Arizona because they fit pretty well with minor alterations.)

The best thing about this place are the clouds! Oh, the clouds! Very much like clouds you might see in the mid-west and I’ve missed them very much until now. Cumulus, cirrus, lenticular, lots of lenticular because it’s pretty breezy here. Sometimes windy! I hear the clouds will get even more interesting when monsoon season hits. Apparently in July and August the weather can get humid and the thunderheads will build until in the afternoon it will dump! Sometimes, I am told, up to 2 inches an hour. And then it quits and air is nice and things grow and get green. I’m looking forward to this.

Last night we had a visitor. We had just crawled into bed and I was dozing off. What is that sound? Not a coyote. I know coyote yipping. Instead, strange rasping kind of bark. I immediately thought fox. Sure enough, it was a gray fox. Marty got the flash light to shine a light on it because our dogs are outside dogs. In a nice pen and pretty safe, I would think, although I know foxes can climb. But why would they climb into a dog pen with 2 big dogs? For food maybe. For food left out but we don’t leave the food out.

Monsieur Gray Fox!

Anyway, it left right away and we haven’t heard it since but I would like to. I like that the wild is still out there and doing all right. At least I hope it’s doing all right. I feel that when the wild is doing all right then we are more likely to be doing all right, too.

Speaking of the wild we’ve had some nice hikes along the San Pedro River. It’s flat and shady and now there’s a bit of water. Someone said don’t wade in the water because the river originates in Mexico and you don’t know what “those people” are doing over there. Harumpph “those people”! I want to say you don’t even know those people so how can you say anything? So, I’m not concerned. Even if “those people” were polluting the water by dumping raw sewage or chemicals we’re miles from Mexico and by the time it gets to us the wild will have strained it and made it better. I’m not going to drink it! Just wade in it. There’s no industrial down there. It’s all Sonora Desert.

The San Pedro River originates in Mexico, flows north and joins the Gila River in Arizona

This area is chock full ‘o’ history! It was right here in 1540 that Francisco Coronado walked or rode north out of Mexico with 1,000 men, 3,000 cattle and 23 horses on his way to the Great Plains. I think that’s pretty trippy. In the map that I attached there’s the brown line of San Pedro River so it’s easy to determine that we are right in the path.

Way before that all happened, maybe 30,000 years ago, paleo-indians killed mammoths and other animals within 2 miles of our home. There’s a bone pit excavation site a stone’s throw from here. If my dad was still alive he would dig that (not literally) because he loved hunting for arrowheads in the plowed fields around Marshalltown. He would say, “It fascinates me to think who the last person to touch this might have been.”

Now we turn our efforts to improving the place. This is something we always do. This time it’s mostly going to be landscaping because the inside of the house is pretty fine the way it is. A little paint here, a little carpet or tile there. The cat is thrilled to have miles (to her) of room to run. She’s an indoor cat (you recall Mr. Fox of whom I spoke earlier) and so giving her all this space is making her a very happy cat.

7 thoughts on “Out of Arizona”

  1. This sounds like a wonderful place you’ve settled. I like your perspective on the wild, I tend to agree
    Hope to make it there to see your new homestead one day! I know you’re making it even more beautiful

  2. There are grey fox in Iowa too. One thing I learned early on is that they climb trees just like cats. Really! We often looked for them when we walked along the river by the Soldiers Home. Never saw one but always kept an eye out for them, just in case…

  3. Yes! I never saw one and never knew they could climb so well until back in California I was in one of our horse pens early in the morning. The horse pen has a large pine tree in the corner. All of a sudden a fox jumps out from the tree on to the top rail of the fence, runs along the top rail for a distance, hops down and heads for the juniper copse in our neighbor’s yard. So I got a good look at it. It was wonderful to see.

  4. Sounds like the new place is going to be just perfect – the clouds, the river, the wild ones. We love watching clouds too. They’re differ here in our new home in Oregon than what we enjoyed in the BayArea.
    You’ve already been on an extraordinary travel adventure and now building a new home. You are an inspiration. ❤️

    1. Well, you, too, my dear! Thanks to the WWW we can stay in touch with friends much more quickly, can’t we? Of course, you and I both remember the days when people had to write letters to each other. I sort of miss those days but not the big knot I got on my middle finger from holding the pencil too hard! Thanks for reading!

  5. I’m with your dad re: the excavation pit. Shark teeth @ Venice Beach south of here; sand pits for really old shells @ construction sites; Sacred Land tour here in St. Pete seeing the discarded shell mounds: love all that. Coyotes have begun appearing throughout Pinellas County. It’s their neighborhood, too. Great story as always; thanks for sharing. –Tom

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