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.
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