Archive for April, 2014

what happens in the desert . . .   15 comments

Posted at 9:04 am in Arizona,desert,plants,Uncategorized

Several years ago, Don returned from a trip to Arizona wearing a t-shirt that said, “what happens in the desert, stays in the desert”. That’s more or less true. For the fifth consecutive year, I’ve returned to the north with part of my soul remaining behind. However, this year, with it being so dry in southeast Arizona, part of the desert tried to come home with me. My van is probably carrying a couple of pounds of red dust. It’s on and inside of everything, including the guitar, banjo and fiddle cases.

As most of you will know, this blog has been very quiet over the winter. In part, it was a case of me not feeling much like writing, but also due to preoccupation with the project that was alluded to in the previous blog post. After five years of renting a house in town, It seened time to move on. The rental house has been a good thing in my life — sort of like a big life raft floating serenely on the Sea of Chaos. However, now, with the old place at Round Hill gradually taking shape, it felt like the right time to leave the raft and swim off into a new adventure.

And so, after a bit of planning, Larry and I decided to get started building a small cabin in the desert. Just a simple place that would provide something of a home base in the southwest. Somewhere to hang a hat in the desert, when not off wandering elsewhere in the world.

We chose a location where we would be surrounded by nature – and it is, from just about the second you step out the door. It’s Chihuahuan desert, dominated by mesquite, whitethorn acacia, creosote bush, devil’s claw, yucca, and other arid land plants.

In places, ant hills scatter the sand like craters on a moonscape.

Footprints of javelina, fox, coyote, roadrunner, kangaroo rat, lizards, and other creatures form a network of trails. Kestrel, ravens, vultures, harriers, redtail hawks, and in winter, sandhill crane, glide and soar overrhead.

Every foray presents us with some new plant, creature, fascinating rock, or old relic from past. There is a 360 view of the sky. Sunrises, sunsets and clouds take on a greater significance. At night, the moon and stars take center stage.

The dogs love the freedom of racing down washes and around hummocks of mesquite – as do we.

The cabin is compact and simple – built strong and solid. Larry’s former days of building timber frame houses made it so. The exterior is of stucco – this photo taken after the second coat but before the final pigmented finish coat which, we hope, will be about the colour of dried grass in winter. It’s off the grid, so relies on solar for all power. It has a loft and will have steps and a porch out front. Larry has stayed on to complete the building while I return to work on the old house up north.

Before leaving, I made a circle of stones on a little rise above one of the more pronounced washes. Over a couple of days, I collected a about three dozen small boulders – the beginning of a pile that may be used to build a round structure as a place to paint and play music. That’s stuff for the future – next year and beyond…

Inside the circle, I arranged findings of the last few days’ walks before leaving. Compass-like, an odd rusty piece of metal points northeast. This summer in the north, I shall make another pointing southwest. It is good to have markers pointing the way home.

Written by bev wigney on April 17th, 2014