This weekend I found a way to get my “boots on the ground” like my daddy said to me the day he died. G packed the truck with all the picnic & hiking supplies along with gold panning, & first aid equipment ( just in case). We drove past the city limit to find a place I knew Dad’s boots had been. He had taken our family camping all over Southern Arizona and once we broke away from the freeway I started to feel lighter.
Finally the painful gravity pulling my soul out of my body started to lighten up as the miles rolled by. I thought about my Dad. I thought about driving with him enough miles for the Chet Atkins 8 track to repeat a few times. I hear his music in my head as the world rushes by. Oh how he loved this land. This was healing as I allowed myself to feel the pain of the loss of such a great man.
Soon we pulled in to the tiny town of Patagonia, AZ and I saw this amazing tree. The proprietor says it’s over 300 years old. I’m staring wondering how. How did this tree stay? (Why couldn’t you stay?) Daydreaming and imagining the secrets this tree knows I touch it with the respect it deserves. I highly recommend hugging a 300 year old tree.
Patagonia has a short street with a lot of cool old buildings. We decide to return when we feel like exploring at a later time.
Continuing south we know what we are looking for; Desert mountains, grasslands, fresh air, streams
We drop down toSan Rafael Valley and we are just a few miles from Mexico. You can see Mexico in the distance over G’s shoulder.
Finally the truck climbs high enough on forest roads to see my dad’s favorite tree, the Manzanita. It’s my favorite too. The world smells different here. Old, fresh, green, dusty…..We drive up a long forest road to higher ground and find a good ol’ hollowed out tree to sit under for a picnic.I decide to crawl inside this burnt out tree for no other reason than to see what it feels like to be INSIDE A TREE. It was EASY going in but once inside I can’t figure out how to get out without touching one of the thousand spiderwebs. There is no graceful way to exit and I am trying not to get eaten. G thinks it’s hilarious since he told me not to try it.
There are many abandoned mines in the Patagonia Mountains. Some of the mining towns have disappeared completely but there are a few left to explore. One adobe building and a graveyard remain here at Harshaw.
While I was taking these pictures an ant crawled up my pants leg and bit me. Just so you know (and the campers nearby know) why I was whooping and taking off my pants in broad daylight.
G read a book once about this area that took place in the 1800’s. A 9 year old boy had been thrown from a horse and died. Several years ago we found that young boy’s grave. For years we would return to make sure his grave was clean and well kept. We haven’t been back to this area for a while and were very happy to see that others have been taking care of it. For some reason that feels oddly comforting. Families still live in this area and some return to maintain their ancestor’s resting place. Gone but not forgotten. That’s the comfort for me today.
Putting my boots on the ground made all the difference today. I hugged a tree, smelled the fresh air, got bitten by an ant but NOT a spider, laughed hysterically, crunched through the fallen leaves, lost my sunglasses, brushed against the soft grass, touched my favorite Manzanita trees, imagined living in an old town, and mostly celebrated nature as my father taught me. Thanks Dad.
In memory of Jack born October 8, 1931 died October 14, 2016