REVELATIONS FROM THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
It was after we had gassed up at Truth or Consequences and headed west that things began to happen. I should say that I began to notice things happening. Time itself seemed to slow down. I grew irritable in the heat, anxious to get back to Tucson. I was tired from helping Sam Scott move into his summer studio. But Sam seemed to get younger, more cheerful. The farther from the main road we got, the happier he became. He wanted to show me this little town. The land changed as we passed into foothills. Cicadas buzzed like snooze alarms. Hillsboro was my own rural past in Kentucky. Sam was intrigued as if he were discovering it for the first time. It was new to him though he had been through there often.
His enthusiasm took us to an old stone church he loved that someone else had begin to renovate. It was a sure disappointment; I could tell he had his own renovation plans. In town we toured a garage that would have made a great studio with an attached home. I thought Sam was going to make a deal on the spot. Over an hour and a houseful of marvelous antiques later, I reminded him we had to travel. He reluctantly agreed. We headed southeast as I silently speculated on the nature of curiosity.
As we left the foothills, a storm came up over the mountains and Sam couldn’t resist pulling off the road to watch. We had already seen redtail hawks, turkey vultures, crows, finches, cattle, and pronghorn antelope with their young. But, did I know how strong an impact ‘seeing’ could have?
We had stopped on the road to Santa Fe, more to talk to the Native American family than to buy one of the watermelons they were selling. Sam seemed to need close contact with people of his chosen home. They were the real New Mexico. To speak with them in their own Hispanic tongue reassured Sam that things had changed little since his leaving. And so we sat on the tailgate of his Chevy, eating the last of their homegrown melon, and watching the rain come.
I saw things more clearly than I had ever seen them. The dead, tangled branches of tumbleweed stacked randomly on the barbed wire fence, stuffed there by the wind, bristled with clarity. In the middle of nowhere, we watched what we thought to be hawks or buzzards toying with a jackrabbit. It was almost ten minutes before we could see that it was the wind – a dust devil torturing a tumbleweed. The angel who troubled the waters was now troubling the land while my life came together more cohesively than I could ever have imagined.
- Don West 1989 Tucson AZ