Driving south of Tucson my cluttered mind opened up to the bone-dry sky. The friable earth had swirled into the heavens and tinted them into a dusty azure that was surprisingly pleasant. Other than the earth's tiny particles, there was nothing up there but the sun and an old cargo plane that was circling overhead. My brain was emptying out with each mile south of civilization—swirling around with the dust and plane. But soon, the cargo plane got tired of its antics and landed. Then there was nothing.
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A sense of place—the only way to discover it is to walk at dawn. One must make discoveries on one's own terms. I must be alone when walking a path for the first time. There is nothing quite like waking in a new place for the first time and getting out to see it as does the sun upon a fresh day.
I feel his shadow before I actually see it. Like a light summer cloud that blocks the sun for just a moment, our shadows converge into one. Turkey vulture and I look at one another. I could swear he knows that I have a camera—He circles me for a pose. I click furiously, suddenly being blinded by the sun as his graceful wingspan moves aside and reveals the furious, burning ball of light. Then he moves back in position again to shade me. And the sun disappears behind him.
Right about there you'll see the javelinas," our host told us as we toured the town of Patagonia for the first time. Even in midday the small village in southeastern Arizona was pretty much empty. I figured the javelinas would be good company. I immediately made my plans to meet them.
"See that hill over that? That's Mexico." Our dear friend seemed excited to point that out to us as we looked out from a high, Arizona hill. The Arizona hill looked much the same as did the Mexican version. It was fun to imagine the hills in different colors like one sees on a map. But, no, they looked pretty much the same. "We'll drive down there and a bit and check out the border up close," he said as we walked back to the car.
I rubbed my sandpaper eyes. I realized that I forgot to blink—for about an hour. Deep into the development of my new web site I began to wonder. Were we humans really meant to co-exist with computers? PHP, CSS, HTML, FTP...blah, blah, blah. After my fifteenth phone call to tech support I rubbed my sandpaper eyes. I forgot to blink.
A headless rag doll greeted us as we entered the boarding house of an Arizona ghost town. The floorboards, what was left of them, were covered in dirt. On closer inspection it wasn't dirt at all but rather the excrement of a million bats. I'd suddenly had enough of ghosts for one day. I shivered as a jolt went up my spine. I needed some fresh air. I could have sworn that the headless doll snickered at me on my way out. But can a doll snicker without its head? It must have been my imagination.