|A rare cloudy day in southeast Arizona|
And it’s a rare day that we don’t go to town -- “town” for us, Willcox, only fourteen official miles from our winter ghost town digs in Dos Cabezas, though I think of it as fifteen miles, since we don’t do a lot on the outskirts. Well, other than stop at “the ponds,” as we call them (Twin Lakes is the official name), to look for sandhill cranes or take the unpaved back road in to look for horses or stop at the animal shelter, where I hope to be volunteering when my background check is completed.
Sometimes we even take a much longer detour, just for the pleasure of the wilder scenery closer to the mountains.
But either way, the 14-15 miles to town are never boring. Every day, every hour of the day, the scene is different, light and clouds making magic in the sky. It occurs to me that perhaps the clouds are so captivating here in the West not only because the sky is wide and uninterrupted by either forests or skyscrapers but also because the clouds look so soft, in contrast to the dry desert full of prickly plants and the sharp rocks of the mountains.
Hawks are a daily sight on the way to town, as are cattle. We don’t see horses every time (although I look for them every single time), and it’s exciting to sight a deer or coyote or javelina. The little deer below stood stock-still in the middle of the highway after its companion bounded across, and we stopped, also, gazing into its eyes before it wisely moved off the road.
Another day, after a good night’s rain, we saw a young javelina drinking rainwater from the indentations of the rumble strip on the edge of the highway.
The outskirts of Willcox are not, I’m happy to tell you, miles of malls and fast food joints. In fact, I usually refer to the area outside the city limits on the Dos Cabezas side affectionately as “man’s world.” There are well drilling businesses, body shops, sand and gravel and fertilizer dealers, stock watering tanks for sale, etc. To me, all this says that Willcox is a real place, where people work real jobs. One has a very different impression coming into town from one of the expressway exits (though only one of those has a couple of fast food outlets), and I feel sorry for and a bit impatient with people who think they have “seen Willcox” because they’ve stopped for gas just off the expressway. My particular favorite stop before we cross the railroad tracks from the Dos Cabezas side is the feed store. The eastmost expressway exit would bring you into town past the Willcox Livestock Auction, though, and that’s wonderful, also.
There are two feed stores and two grocery stores, two drugstores (one in the larger grocery store) and two barber shops, and a couple of thrift shops. There are maybe three banks, plus a credit union, although the bank I use (because it’s also in Traverse City, Michigan) no longer has an open lobby but only an ATM. (For service from live human beings, it’s necessary to drive north to Safford in Graham County.) There are a couple of bars, but we haven’t been in either of them. Several wine-tasting rooms, but again, we have not imbibed. We have been to the Rex Allen Museum, and I recommend it highly! Naturally, there are motels, restaurants, and gas stations, as well as RV parks, but since we are not simply passing through but living here, more important to us are the laundromat, the library, and the post office.
|"Cowboy starch" a regional specialty|
There are a couple of large, well-stocked hardware stores and a little local hospital with ambulance or, if necessary, helicopter service to Tucson.
Last year there was an important addition to the town (and to our town visits) in the form of a new coffee house. On sunny, warm days we enjoy sitting out on the wide front porch, and when the wind turns cools it’s cozy inside. People meet to play chess, and there are shelves of books (to which we have contributed), where “Take one, leave one” is the policy. There is a little fish tank and, at present, a Christmas tree. Some very elaborate coffee drinks are available, though I get no fancier than a latte (just the flavor of coffee, thanks, no syrup added) or a double espresso, and there are cupcakes, “apple bites," and what I can’t help calling (in my mind, if nowhere else) pain au chocolat. –which reminds me that there is also a new bakery in town, and I need to try that soon!
Willcox has a movie theatre, and we’ve seen some great shows there in past years. Right now I’m watching the marquee on a daily basis, eager for an evening show that would let us out into the magic of holiday lights strung on the trees of Railroad Park.
In short, the town of Willcox is a lot like Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery in the fictional Lake Woebegone: if they don’t have what you want, you probably didn’t need it in the first place. Because believe me, I've left out quite a bit.
Books Read Since Last Listed
164. King, Thomas. A Matter of Malice: A DreadfulWater Mystery (fiction)
165. Thody, Philip & Howard Read. Introducing Sartre (nonfiction)
166. Samuels, Solomon K. A Life in Three Acts: My Journey From Wartime Burma to America (nonfiction)
167. Zweig, Stefan. The World of Yesterday (nonfiction)
168. Taylor, Rosemary. Ghost Town Bonanza (fiction)
To write an autobiography, it helps to have had an interesting life. Whatever the events of your life, however, telling your story in an interesting, readable manner is essential, and while bogus autobiographies and memoirs appear from time to time, the best are the stories honestly told by writers modest about their successes and not afraid to reveal their weaknesses.
Is it more than coincidence that a good friend’s husband, Solomon K. Samuels, and a famous 20th-century author, Stefan Zweig, both saw their lives as divided into three parts? Samuels calls his book A Life in Three Acts, and Zweig’s working title for the story of his life, published posthumously, was Three Lives. In both cases, I thought it would take me a long time to get through these life stories, but in both cases, again, I sped through the chapters, thoroughly engrossed. There are personal achievements, as well as the horrors of war, in both books. The resolutions are very different. But both books are well worth reading, and I recommend them highly.
Peasy Tales (Briefly)
The dog without a tail, the dog with issues, our little Peasy, continues to enjoy life in Cochise County, Arizona, with his seasonally retired human folks and his neighborhood pack friends.