As Dog Ears Books closes for the bookseller's annual seasonal retirement, that bookseller sends thanks to all who follow Books in Northport and special thanks to those who buy books at the bookstore on Waukazoo Street. We will re-open in May 2023 for our 30th anniversary year, thanks to you. Have a lovely winter! And if you enjoy this blog, consider sharing the link with friends. The more, the merrier!
Search This Blog
Friday, April 10, 2015
Adios, Dos Cabezas – Hola, El Camino
Morning hits the mountain
do you feel about saying good-by to Baja Arizona? I feel sad to be
leaving the scene of so many happy recent memories but eager to see friends and
family along the way home. I’m curious to know what home will look like and
feel like when we get there, too. Will there still be snow? Will our old things
and haunts and loved ones greet us with gladness and not reproach us for the
long absence? My emotions are in turmoil, mind jumping back and forth across
the continent. So much to remember, so much to anticipate! Our old farmhouse,
my dear bookstore, our beloved back country Michigan roads! But I won’t deny
it’s hard to leave here.
will you miss most about Dos Cabezas and Willcox? I will miss, in
general, the austerity and vastness of the mountains and desert, and the
way this Western land, dry and barren in its superficial appearance, holds so
many secrets and so much life – the wonderful, tiny details in the vastness.
And while we did not forge deep relationships, I’ll miss the easy friendliness
of strangers, the open smiles of greeting, the helpfulness we encountered
everywhere we went.
Our coffee place on Railroad Street in Willcox
More specifically, I’ll miss the characteristic Dos Cabezas
smell of dust and cows, the daily sight of horse trailers on the streets
of Willcox, the whole ranch and cowboy culture. It isn’t empty legend
out here: it’s real life. And horses and dogs are very much a part of it all,
I’m pleased to report.
focus for a moment on the sabbatical aspect, how did your writing go? I’m happy with what
I’ve done and with where I am now, despite having scrapped the 17,000-word
beginning from a month ago and started over almost from scratch. I can’t even
call the new version rewriting, because other than keeping a couple of good
sections, I truly began anew. So “happy with... where I am now,” in terms of word count, is barely at
the 6,000 mark, which may not sound like much to show for three months, but it
feels very satisfying, because I like those 6,000 words. As I put it to David, my
story is no longer wandering around looking for itself. Instead of filling in
some conventional form called ‘novel,’ it has found its own shape. Better to
make slow progress on the right road than push ahead on a wrong road until a
dead end is reached. I’ve found the right road and have started down it.
you would call the sabbatical a success and you’re glad to have spent the time
where and how you did? There is a line in one of Wilfred Thesiger’s books that I
used to know by heart and can only paraphrase now, something about how he was
never happier in his life than riding the train from Djibouti to Addis Ababa.
The other evening, when David and I were riding in the car between Dos Cabezas
and the Chiricahua Mountains, taking in the beautiful scenery we have both come
to love on a heartbreakingly lovely spring evening, I told him I felt like
Thesiger in the train on the way to Addis. But the truth is I have felt equally
happy on countless occasions during our stay here – at the livestock auction,
at the junior rodeo, visiting our old friends in Patagonia, having the cows
lowing around the house at night, exploring the environs with Sarah, sitting on
Beverly’s old front porch in the shade with David and watching trains go by or
sitting quietly behind the cabin, watching birds and lizards, looking off at
distant horses and up to the mountains -- and on and on and on.
have you learned from your time in Arizona? Well, for someone often more attuned
to impressions than facts, I’ll be taking a lot of new information home with
me. First there was the Cactus and Succulent Phase, then the Geology Phase,
followed by the Bird Phase, and finally the General Botany Phase. In each
phase, I read hungrily for knowledge of an environment entirely new to me.
Also, from the very beginning, there was a hunger for history – first, for 19th-
and 20th-century regional Arizona history, and now, more recently,
for the entire long history of the borderland, la frontera, the area along the
border between the United States and Mexico. That last, I’m sure, will be an
ongoing area of study.
more personal learning? Finding that wannabe-cowgirl left behind at age 12 has
been an important revelation. What it has to do with the rest of my life at
this stage, I cannot say, but it feels right and good to come back to my
girlish love of horses. Sometimes simply being around them makes me think my
whole life from the age of 12 until now has been one long detour, but that
cannot be true. Each life begins, I’m sure, without a destination, and only as
we live do we create our path. I am just grateful that mine brought me to a
little Arizona ghost town for this past winter. And now the time has come to
leave. Volver? Espero que sí, pero no sé. “The future’s not ours to see....”