We don’t go on long expeditions every day. Sometimes we have a day of simple errands in town and then come home to read and write. But even those ordinary days hold a drive to Willcox, which means a cruise through beautiful mountain views and past the mysterious Willcox Playa, an old lakebed from Pleistocene days, which I’ll write more about another time. Anyway, I get a lot of pleasure from our daily routines. Away from home, they take on an exotic air to me, although we, of course, are the exotic ones in this winter landscape.
First, the post office, where everyone there has been friendly and helpful from Day One. And now that we have a p.o. box, with our very own keys, I feel like a citizen of the desert when I unlock the box to look for mail every morning. Best of all, sometimes there’s mail in the box! I love that! Today, though, the box was empty. And Monday a holiday! I am momentarily crushed by disappointment but then tell myself I'll have a longer time for anticipation to build....
Most days we also go to the library, just one block from the p.o., where we check out books and movies, chat with the librarian, and where I update my blog and read new e-mail. It’s a very friendly library and has a wonderful large Arizona section and another large section of books in Spanish. (Unfortunately, I would not get much out of a book written in Spanish. Even the Spanish-language television programs go too fast for me to follow. A word or a phrase here and there is the best I usually do. If I get a whole sentence, I feel triumphant.) Naturally, the library also has computers of its own for patrons and the latest newspapers. The library is open every day but Sundays and holidays.
We go to Benson about once a week and have made three shopping expeditions already to Lenore’s wonderful bookstore, the modestly named Paperback Recycler, but Willcox has its own little bookstore. Run by the Friends of the Library, the Friendly Bookstore is not big or fancy and doesn’t have a curated collection, but it lives up to its name, and we usually find something to carry home.
The first day of the 10-cent sale in the alley, we found many treasures! And yes, the bookstore really does sell local honey and jam. On the day of our first visit, I’d chosen jars of prickly pear jelly and catclaw bush honey for purchase and carried them to the counter before we even realized that the beekeeper himself was the volunteer clerk that day. We learned a lot about the agriculture of the region in conversation with him. Meeting new, interesting people far from home counts for an adventure in my book.
Before returning home, we always stop for coffee on the shaded porch across Railroad Avenue from the old train station. The business is a coffee shop, ice cream parlor, antique shop, bookstore, and more. There is a resident cat, and her name is – Sarah! There’s an old woodstove in the back, warming the indoors on chilly mornings. Our own Sarah is welcome to sit out on the porch with us and is always greeted by name by the genial proprietor.
|(In my dreams, this is me.)|
|Coffee shop Sarah|
From the porch we look across the street to the former handsome old restored train depot, now City Hall, and watch long freight trains roar through the crossing, and when we look off into the distance we see our “home” mountains. Sometimes a livestock trailer pulls up to park out front, and sometimes it holds horses and sometimes cattle, and sometimes cattle and horses, and one time one cowboy had cattle and horses and dogs – a fully-equipped cowboy outfit! Don't it turn my blue eyes green!
One day we had lunch down the street at Rodney’s, sitting out front with him at the sidewalk table. When the weather warms up, his patio garden out back will be shady and cool for dining. I had BBQ and beans and asked Rodney what kind of beans they were. Pinto beans, of course. Pinto beans are the beans around here. Rodney says the secret to good beans is that once they’re cooked, you never let them cool. Kind of like a French pot-au-feu, the bean pot should always be kept warm, and that way the beans stay soft and tasty. 2/15 addition: I found the cute photos of the guys that I couldn't locate the other day. Here they are:
Sometimes we take a detour off the road home to see what’s happening at Willcox Lake. There are usually ducks and grebes paddling around on the water, and “my” loggerhead shrike may be perched near the water’s edge. Once a whole flock of sandhill cranes came flying in. But even without cranes, there are cattle grazing in the near distance, and it’s a lovely, peaceful scene.
I have omitted the grocery store from this litany of errands, although one of the two large grocery stores out by the expressway is quite fascinating to us, with its array of Mexican foodstuffs and an entire aisle of colorful piñatas, but will go back into town to close with the laundromat, because right next door to it is a little food truck that sells Sonoran-style hot dogs. Hot dogs not mean much to you? Didn’t mean much to me, either, until we tried them and found out what “Estilo Sonora” means: smothered in beans and sauce and hot peppers!
Sarah, we’re not in Michigan any more!