The first time I came to Southern Arizona I took a day during my time at the Tucson Gem Show to drive to Patagonia. I’ve always been an explorer, willing to embark on random adventures, and that day I had a mission. I was stalking someone. Well, probably not stalking…certainly not in the sense of malevolence, but I was indeed hoping to run into Jim Harrison, my favorite author. As the day wound down, I had a quiet dinner in the restaurant/bar that I’d heard he frequented and lingered. No famous author appeared. In fact, as I recall, I was the only person in the bar the whole time other than the bartender. I was too embarrassed about my intent to inquire if Harrison was even in town, but I did fall in love with the area.
I discovered Bisbee decades later and I am still drafting the story of my first journey here, but I’ve written about being in Bisbee in other recent posts. I am living here for the time being, perhaps permanently…I love my little casita on the edge of miles of open desert. There are many new species of fauna to get to know but one that I recognize easily are the quail that seem plentiful around my house. And the quail remind me of Harrison since he often wrote of hunting and eating them around his home in Patagonia. As I walk the desert with my dogs every morning, I’ve often wished I could bag a few quail. I have enjoyed them in the past, but I am too new here to have figured out where (or how) I can legally hunt, far too much settling in to do.
And then yesterday, enjoying a beer with my friend Ben at my house, the dogs barking at a taunting coyote just outside my fence led me into my yard to observe a covey, flushed in the commotion. One of the birds flew into a bedroom window with great velocity and immediately went down. I hoped it would recover, but when it became apparent that the bird was dying, I went to retrieve it. My immediate thought as it lay lifeless in my hands was to bury it, but then I thought otherwise. The bird’s tragedy suddenly seemed like a gift from the spirit of Jim Harrison, and my new desert home. Ben and I continued to chat as I plucked the bird and washed it, observing the bounty of this high desert in the taut craw, full of seeds.
I am not observing a Thanksgiving meal with family members until Saturday, as they will not arrive here until tomorrow. And I’m having a quiet Thanksgiving Day with the dogs, feeling full of thanks for the gift of a meal yesterday. As I smell the simmering quail stock from the leftover carcass, it seems like a fine welcome, a blessing of sorts, for my being here. I feel connected. The discovery this morning that the covey was still just outside my fenced yard seems like an affirmation.
Bisbee… a place I’d only heard about 10 months ago and now I live here. It’s been an interesting experience over the last 10 months, first travelling, then coming back to and finding a sense of place and eventually a new home which I love.
I’ve moved from Eugene, OR, a place with a reputation of being weird, to a place that may actually be a bit weird, but in ways that seem right for me now. Eugene is more confused than weird, despite the reputation. In my mind, it has always seemed so, and it seemingly more confused every day now, with every city park having become a tent city, no one knowing what to do about it. Nobody likes it, neither the folks in the South Hills nor the folks in the tents. It is an embarrassment for the city and reflects a declining pride-of-place. I’m happy to be mostly finished there, at least for now, tent cities not being the only affliction in Eugene.
Against all odds, I built a business and a reputation in Eugene, achieving a measure of success no matter how you choose to define it. And for the time being my ties are not severed. I have friends, an address, and an office there, awaiting my return to socialize and meet for business.
And now I have friends in Bisbee, which calls itself “Mayberry…on acid.” Not lying. I’m not sure yet if that motto is official, but it is the town motto. I’ve met, in no particular order, the guy who people refer to as the “de-facto town mayor”, the bartenders at the Thirsty Lizard, the Brewery, The Double P, and the Bisbee Social Club, a city councilman, a comedian’s wife, (not to diminish her status as a individual!) artists, a builder, a landscape architect, a doctor, a television star, and world traveler…and the list goes on. Importantly, everyone I’ve met is proud to be here, happy to participate in a community with a rich history, and, I think, a viable future.
Thanks for the welcome, Bisbee, I look forward to getting to know you better!