We are now in the Sonoran desert, just north of Scottsdale, and somehow, without us even aware of it, four weeks have passed on our pilgrimage to here. When we booked the time here in this beautiful campground six months ago, it was our longest stay in any one place, a luxury we looked forward to experiencing. But now, the time has revealed itself to be as ephemeral as any single night stay. Each round of sunrise to sunset and back again is completely new and undiscovered. Sr. Maria Boulding writes, “There are no paths in the desert except the new ones you make by walking them”.
The days here have been enriched by the continued connection with friends and family whose paths have crisscrossed ours here in the desert. The freedom of a reunion in a completely new place, unencumbered by history or tradition or anything familiar, expands the heart as only living in the present can do.
We shared a wonderful dinner watching the sunset and its long, golden shadows with long-time friends (a connection made over 30 years ago in New Hampshire) who now live in Scottsdale.
Liz cherished two leisurely reunions, one over coffee and another over lunch, with two friends (one from Milwaukee and one from Pittsburg) who are here in Arizona and who Liz knows from her days studying with Caroline Myss in Chicago.
At the beginning of the month, Peter traveled to Bozeman to go snowboarding for a week with one of our dearest friends from upstate New York. The two guys enjoyed the hospitality of friends we know originally from Wyoming.
Peter’s son came from New Hampshire and stayed with us for a week, our first resident guest. T2 was really comfortable and in between the guys’ time on the links, we introduced him to the little town of Cave Creek, the fabulous gelato place, the great restaurants and the eclectic ones (the favorite was Big Earl’s Greasy Eats). We hiked into the national forest and explored ancient Hohokam ruins abandoned over 900 years ago. We watched the full moon rise over the desert and spent hours in luxurious conversations.
Peter and I explored the mountains and surprisingly beautiful Ponderosa forests of Payson, Arizona, spending the day with a couple we had met while in Montana last summer.
We were treated to wonderful Mexican food in downtown Scottsdale by one of Liz’s son’s roommates from Proctor Academy (in New Hampshire) who now works here in Phoenix, doing important work as a financial and investment consultant to Native American tribes.
And all of this plays out on the magnificent stage of the desert. As I write this, I look out the expansive windows of T2 at our backyard. Saguaro reach up to the sky, striking distinctly original poses with upwardly curved branches. The deceptively inviting Teddy-bear cholla seem to pirouette across the hillside. The hardy mesquite trees, the most common and important of the desert trees, offer welcome shade to the neighborhood’s inhabitants. Earlier in the week, two hot air balloons skipped across the backyard just about 100 yards from our campsite, spooking one owl right out of his nest.
I learned that a mountain lion has been spotted in the wilderness area just south and east of here. We have been serenaded by coyotes and watched the peculiar javelinas romp through the bony landscape. We have hiked new trails in the wild landscape of the Spur Cross Conservation area where the wildflowers are in full bloom and the grasses along the creek bed are luxurious and green. We took pictures of each other in front of grandfather saguaro that might be 200 years old since these giants take about 70 years to reach a height of six feet.
This has been a rich and deep immersion into the desert and we look forward to our final week further south of here, near Tucson. While there, we will have more time with some other cherished friends, exploring the mystery of this wondrous place on our pilgrimage.
Liz and Peter continue their pilgrimage to here, exploring the wild beauty of the Arizona desert as they travel the country in their Airstream.