Some experiences aren’t meant to be repeated. They exist fleetingly, absorb the mind, and are felt throughout the body. To chase after the calm or thrill is futile. Even as I try to explain the essence, words fail me.
While on a backroad hike in the desert, I sat on three rocks that encased my bottom, a natural mold left by a century of the desert wind’s whittling. Sun streaming from above, I aligned my body along a diagonal of distant saguaro cacti. Just breathing with my eyes closed, the sun pulled me upward along the columnar green of the cactus and the wind rolled through my arms as if I were a bridge connecting all the saguaro. Peace, Patience, and Understanding grounded me.
It’s been years since I’ve traveled to the desert. Before my parents passed away, I’d come to visit their pristine home nestled next to a golf course. This year’s visit was more visceral. I stayed in the Foothills of Arizona, a stone’s throw from the Colorado River, California, and Mexico. Our wonderful vacation abode was a camper alongside Jim’s brother and sister-in-law’s home where they have built an outdoor kitchen and an oasis nestled with plantings of desert flora—a haven for birds and those who love the dynamics of chilled mornings, wind, and the beams of intense sun.
My ten day stay revealed discoveries large and small that left an impression. Before I enumerate, I’ll preference my explanation with the caveat that these aren’t earth shattering or necessarily profound.
1 – My friend Jan tools around her neighborhood and desert on her e-bike. Prickles fall from cacti and litter the ground, often finding their way into the bike tires. Jan’s answer was “green slime” a glutenous gel pumped into the liner of the tire to fill the holes. In my days of riding, I repaired the tire and tubes with patches. A new solution to an old problem. Amazing!!!
2 – Most city roads use Avenues and Streets as demarcations. Yuma however adds 48th Street, 48th Drive, and 48th Place. There is no mystery here. When I took a mid-day walk, armed with my hat and water bottle, my 10-block walk morphed into 30 blocks. Overheated and tired, my discovery won’t be forgotten. The next day I walked at night, cooler and wiser.
3 – We drove to see the Wall between Mexico and the United States. One area near a dam is passable when the water flow is minimal. Police and Border Patrol come and go, knowing that families will cross and await their fate. Just as we approached a group of ten crossed. One man carried a newborn in his arms, and another sported a stroller on his back. His wife and other children walked by his side. Once in Arizona, he talked with the police and the family waited in the shade for the Border Patrol’s bus to decide their future. I stood witness, waved, and placed my hand over my heart. The father tilted his head and queried if we had aqua. I ran back to the car and returned with a bottle. As I handed over the water, the gentle father, kissed my hand and wished me buena suerte, good fortune. I wished him the same.
Later that day, Jan showed me “Mexican Slippers” found in the desert. Some migrants aren’t as lucky as this family. They get caught in the corrupt coyote system of paid guides who abandon them. The only way to survive is to agree to carry drugs. The slippers are a combination of carpet and foam, tied around their shoes. They hide footprints, and without the deeper impressions, the wind quickly erases their presence.
4 – Traveling to the border town of Algodones, Mexico propelled me back to my life in Puerto Rico. While most of the Mexicans spoke perfect English, I listened to the background chatter of sweet rhythms in Spanish. I connected to the smiles and generosity of the people. Every border town hawks their wares. But in Algodones, they spread kindness. Most who cross the border are there for pharmaceutical products, dentist appointments, and to buy colorful ceramics. The pavements have potholes and are crowded. When one tourist with arms filled with ceramic pots stumbled and fell, workers and locals ran to her aid. Within minutes they had coaxed her up. Dirty, bruised and in shock, they offered water, a ride, anything to make her more comfortable. Discovering her large ceramic pot had broken, someone ran to the store and found a replacement.
I hold close to my heart this memory—not a fleeting sense, but the deep connection of humanity. Kindness crosses borders, bridges the seasons, supersedes the physical world.
Compassion is worthy of repetition and rediscovery.
Thanks to www.Wordsmith.org and A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg, I have received for the last twelve years in my in-box a “word” with pronunciation, meaning, etymology, and usage. I must confess that the words eek into my brain and sometimes into my stories. Here are two words that struck me as noteworthy:
MEANING: noun: 1. A good deed. 2. A duty, obligation, or commandment.
ETYMOLOGY: From Hebrew mitzvah (commandment), from tziwwah (to command). Earliest documented use: 1723. Plural: mitzvahs or mitzvoth.
NOTES: The most familiar usage of the word may be in the terms bar mitzvah (literally, son of commandment, or of the age of commandment) and bat mitzvah (girl commandment). Jewish children are considered adults at the age of 13 (in some versions of Judaism, the age for girls is 12). This comes with rights and responsibilities. The bar and bat mitzvahs are observed with rituals, ceremonies, and celebrations.
MEANING: noun: 1. A day of the week observed as a day of rest.2. A period of rest. 3. A meeting of witches and sorcerers (typically spelled as sabbat).
ETYMOLOGY: From Old English sabat, from French sabbat, from Latin sabbatum, from Greek sabbaton, from Hebrew sabbat, from sabat (rest). Earliest documented use: 950.
NOTES: Typically, a Friday is considered a day of Sabbath by Muslims, Saturday by Jews (and some Christians), and Sunday by Christians. Why not convert to Islam, Judaism, and Christianity and take a three-day weekend off?
On the Sabbath, a day of rest, an act of kindness is rendered more than a mitzvah. Rules recede as the heart is willing to cross the line and show compassion.
Fatigue is the best pillow.Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor (17 Jan 1706-1790)
In those parts of the world where learning and science have prevailed, miracles have ceased; but in those parts of it as are barbarous and ignorant, miracles are still in vogue.Ethan Allen, revolutionary (21 Jan 1738-1789)
The last two weeks offered me time to investigate wine processes, adoption, and the plausible reasons for a character to act out of malice versus the heart. None of these are simple questions, but as an author my plots and characters need authenticity. While I’m not a historical writer, all of history imposes itself on a person and the lives lived.
Sealy’s resolutions of her life are interictally entwined with others and their pasts.
You can find me at Seaport Books in La Conner along with other local authors on Thursday, May 26, 2022 from 4:00PM until 6:00PM. Jana Gage, the owner of Seaport books believes in local authors and supports us. We’ll be next to her store at Gilkey Square, near the picnic tables. You’ll find Gilkey Square at the end of Morris Street where it intersects with First Street in La Conner, WA.
The event will be cancelled if it rains.
If you want me to talk with your book group or other writing groups, contact me here.
Travel is the perfect way to slice out reading time. I read two novels during flight time. Each involved books, the love of reading and how the very act educates and breaks down barriers. More importantly, reading soothes the soul during difficult times.
The Last Bookshop in London, by Madeline Martin, takes place in 1939 in London as Hitler’s forces sweep across Europe. Grace discovers the power of story telling and saves her patrons and the store.
The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles, combines the story of Odile who works in the American Library in Paris in 1939, with that of Lily in 1983 who lives in Montana. Odile’s story is one immense hardship, generosity, and deep sadness due to the demands of horrific proportions during the time of Nazi domination. Odile’s hard-earned wisdom helps a young girl, Lily, deal with growing up after the loss of her mother, and the insecurity and jealousies of maturing. The two women forge a friendship and love that extends generations and the bonds of family.
A baby born
The flight with
A bird, a fish
As the tides