Boots On The Ground In Patagonia

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.5742fb6e-b35c-463d-a723-86366424fee2

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.

IMG_3774.JPGSoon 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.9a2d730e-bed7-4ae1-9e67-2f75d93ad7f4

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…..manzanita-treeWe drive up  a long forest road to higher ground and find a good ol’ hollowed out tree to sit under for a picnic.img_3852I 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.

635a23df-77d7-46ee-8dcb-69cdcca6bfbbThere 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.

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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.

Harshaw Graveyard-

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.54f7ad4d-be6d-4159-9de1-0e1ff9ae67692941f265-22ec-46a8-acf3-08d6adad626ce671677f-e7b7-4198-9073-a358fd92ca78fc1d5d7d-20ed-4d89-b76f-94c5654306b5

64b27a34-381a-4c30-a00b-982f62292819acc6093c-9bd4-49a1-b3e1-9cfc094ccb3aPutting 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Bell

It’s  4am. I am sitting  in THE most comfortable chair in the world outside my father’s bedroom and I hear the bell ring.  I snap to attention to get him what he needs. I am so grateful for that bell and so happy he is still here for me to help.  I place my hand on his back. I focus prayerful energy to his patchwork heart, my hand heats up and I simply know he will be OK today.

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It wasn’t always that way with the bell.  I really used to hate the sound of it.  My first encounter with the call bell was because my brother had asthma.  We shared a bedroom and a bell was given to me to wake the house at the first sign of wheezing.  Oh I tried ringing it once or twice, but it seemed they took too long to get there, the bell was in my way. It was just much faster to drag him by his blue footie pj’s down the hall to the bathroom, fill it with steam, and climb on the counter to reach his inhaler out of the medicine cabinet all while yelling Mooooooommmm! at the top of my lungs. Still didn’t hate it yet, just didn’t have the time in my tiny impatient mind to use it.

It was actually my grandmother who I associate with my disdain for the bell.

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The bell pictured above  hung at the end of my grandparent’s sidewalk.   For some reason my Grandmother would find the need to scold us whenever we were near that bell, even though we weren’t touching it! She  would sternly lecture us that it was only for emergencies to call the workers. We felt angry and  guilty (like  when a patrol car pulls behind my car and I panic for no reason).  She scolded that if we rang it we would be like The Boy Who Cried Wolf which is ironic when I tell you the rest of the story.  Toward the end of her life she moved in with my parents. As older people sometimes do she became childlike and bratty.  She couldn’t be left alone so there were times I had to grandma-sit. I was in college so I believed it would be a quiet time for me to study.

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The grandma sitting started off by checking her water glass (Ice all the way to the top),finding the remote in her blankets so she could turn her TV up to ear piercing levels and making sure the blinds were the way she wanted.  “I will be right outside the door.” I would shout  while handing  her the bell. As soon as I plopped down, opened a book and started to concentrate; ding-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling and I rushed in. “I need more ice”   She would say. “YOU don’t put enough in!”

“Grandma, the ice cubes are full even poking out of the top, I can’t fit anymore in.”  She wasn’t having it so I took the glass out to the hall, then brought it back.  “That’s better.” She says while giving me a stern nod. She rarely drank the water. Sometimes the call of the bell was to open the blinds, minutes later to close them. Often times to find the remote.   Once and a while she really did need something.  I thought maybe she was lonely but she didn’t want me to stay in the room and she wouldn’t come out to the rest of the house. This scene repeated itself every 10 minutes or so throughout the day.  Each time my butt hit the chair; ding-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling!! The bell. That damn bell.

Fast forward to today, and just like Quasimoto I have learned to love the bell. The frustrated young woman I was is replaced with the reality that the bell has always been a lifeline.  As long as my dad can ring it, I know he is still here.  I wait impatiently for the brassy sound or actually ANY sound. When I don’t hear it I check on him way too often.  I know there will be a time when the bell is silent, when no one needs me to rush in and administer medication, fluff a pillow,comfort a child, or open blinds.  I know someday I will need to summon a person to get ME ice (haha..my poor daughter). Until then I will rush in at the call of the little brass bell.

Are You Scared American?

One of the French Border Patrol agents asked me why he doesn’t see many Americans traveling.  He said “are they scared?” Feeling instantly defensive and panicky and that SOMEhow I am now a representative of the United States.  (My brain flashes to Bruce Springsteen’s jeans, red bandanna and   “Born in the USA”  playing in my head) I answer too quickly. “NO, not scared. Well maybe it’s the economy.”  He scoffs and says “zee econoMEE is bad all over” as he pounds my passport with his stamp.

I leave his station quickly as we are running to catch a flight.  We are not running because we didn’t leave enough time (We were 4 hours early) but because the French make their airport rules up as they go along, change them at will, and take as many breaks as possible.

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Once on the plane I processed the incident, got a little mad, and thought of all sorts of things I could have said to defend my fellow Americans.jodi (2)  Unfortunately he is right.  Americans were few and far between with the majority encountered in England. I am wondering, are we scared?  I think about how many people are shocked that we travel to Mexico even with the warnings.  (I always tell them that statistically you have more chance being shot in Tucson than in Rocky Point).Then I think about a radio newscast we heard in London where they said “gun violence is double what it was last year” as they went on to describe 4 shootings to date in London. Yep, FOUR. Double last year, so two.

 

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I CAN tell you that I appreciated the optimism and polite manners of the British, the “enjoy life” attitude I felt in France, and the pride and sense of  family I felt in Italy.  We were soaking in thousands of years of culture and identity.

flagWhat is the American identity?

We were told before we left not to stand out as American so not to make yourself a target for those who hate us.  We couldn’t have been more obvious with G’s big black hat, dinner plate belt buckle and boots.  A lot of people even guessed Arizona.

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We had good luck with many helpful citizens of all nationalities and were beginning to think the warnings were just our government/media or both trying to put fear in us again. Only one time I felt uncomfortable at the waiting room of Ciampino airport in Rome.

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There were two very long lines for passport checks. Many women had head wraps and long gowns but their faces were exposed. G always plays with the children in line everywhere we go.  These children did not smile at him and mommas quickly reprimanded the kids for looking/peeking at G. Simultaneously in front of me, an older woman was holding a place for her family in the our line while the rest of her family spread out between our line and the line next to us. She would wander over to the family and then when our line was shorter, back to our line. I let her back in and smiled.  Dead eyes.  No smile.  She did it several more times and each time I conceded.   I noticed a rich rust color on the tips of her fingers and marveled at the intricacy of her scarf as I nodded, smiled warmly, and stepped back to give her and a gigantic suitcase enough room. We all made it through just fine and all flights gathered in a hot secured waiting room that was lacking in seating.  G was breaking the code of the children and soon a few were smiling and playing with him per usual.  A flight was called and the families lined up to board. One little boy, who had been allowed to shake G’s hand, waved goodbye and his father smiled.  I saw my old woman from the line again, we locked eyes and I smiled.   She ALMOST smiled back as the corners of her mouth started to turn up, caught herself and looked away.  Who knows from where the hate I saw came from.  It could be well deserved for all I know.   I do know I am a proud American now more than ever.  Proud that G wore his hat, boots and Harley shirts.  G who isn’t ever afraid of anything and knew this BEFORE we left. Smart man that G.