It has been nearly six years since we came to this place. It is difficult to trace the steps that brought me here. How far back in time do I go to answer how I got here? For simplicity, I’ll say that it was the area’s amazing food culture, and my attraction to continually experience new and different places, that brought me here.
I remember the day we drove up the long dirt road. It was all so very surreal. Eventually we ended up on an even smaller dirt road, one that my car at the time could not make it up. We parked and walked another mile to a sign that said “For Sale”. We were enchanted. A forest of ocotillos swayed in the wind, greeting us with their bright red blossoms. A western diamondback rattlesnake squiggled across the road. A pair of hawks circled overhead. This was my first time to the Sonoran Desert. I had never stepped foot here before deciding to move to this mysterious place.
It has been quite the journey coming to know this place, and coming to know myself in this place. It has been difficult, and as always life has taken many turns, but it has all been an amazing experience. In the six years since arriving here I’ve returned to being a full-time artist. We have thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, the Arizona Trail, and climbed more mountains than I can count. And through all of that we have journeyed into a life of living off the grid, collecting rainwater, and building our own tiny studio and hang-out space from local rock on a piece of land that hardly had a driveway when we arrived. We started with a travel trailer, a pair of garden shears, a few solar panels, and a water tank. It has been a rewarding journey and a labor of love and sweat learning to live here, to honor the land, and the others that call it home.
The Poetic Version… … …
It was a series of seemingly unrelated events that brought us to this place. The hawks that live on the hill invited us to stay. It has been a slow process here. One of deliberate intention. We started with an idea, fueled by the invitation of the hawks and a desire to be… here.
Six years later we stand a quarter mile up the access way on a hill; the access way that we built. I’m holding a rock in one hand. One of the hawks soars overhead, diving low to check out our efforts. They come by frequently to see how we’re doing. I think about the rock. Every rock I touch has its own story, a story of time I cannot trace. But here we are, holding the rock, every rock collected with our intentions, our backs, our muscles. How many times have we touched this rock before washing it, slowly caressing its every texture and shape, before placing it in the wall? …a wall that will have its own story of place and time.
A bird’s song echoes off the hill. I look down and watch the ants for a minute, contemplating their movements. They’re carrying things, bits of flowers into their tunnels, and grains of sand out. I look back at the pile of rocks and then at the small wall and floor we’ve been building. Here I am, neighbors with the hawks and the ants, serenaded by the birds’ songs. We have all traveled here, made of place and time.
I watch the ants again. I imagine myself as an ant with a grain of sand …making a home because that’s what we do, even the nomadic ones. We all nest in a place. I am one of the nomadic ones. But I know this place with my body, by the rhythm of the wind, and the path of the sun. It is part of me.
These things I know, deep in my soul and in my body. I am the ant with the grain of sand. I am the hawk that soars overhead. I am the penstemon the hummingbird waits for …the wind that caresses my skin, the deer that guides my path, the trail beneath my feet. I am the mountain I climb. And now I am the rock I hold in my hand, building a nest in the mountains, made of place and time.
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