This is why we come to the Arizona desert each winter.  For the last week the dawn has been wonderfully repetitious here at Quartzsite:  The star-filled night sky switches off star by star until only a planet or two remains illuminated.  Next, the mountain range to the east is faintly outlined by a pale, colorless glow.  Slowly, imperceptibly, a dash of blueness  appears high above followed by an orange backdrop to the mountain crags.  The orange light intensifies until, at last, the sun itself bursts in all its brilliance over the mountains and into the sea of blue sky.  It is day, once again, in the desert.

The intense morning sun notwithstanding, several hours are required for the nighttime chill to be overcome and my morning walk to begin.  Viewed from above, my walk’s trajectory must appear erratic but like a hound on a trail of scent, there is method to my wandering – I progress from curiosity to curiosity.  Most sightings, upon inspection, fail to make the grade but occasionally I stumble upon something worth retrieving and adding to my collection of souvenirs.  In years past, my collection was comprised mostly of unusual rocks but in the last few days I have carried home two man-made objects:

One is a fragment of horseshoe.  I’m no expert on horseshoes but this fragment, which was found in an inconspicuous and  untrammeled section of the La Posa Plain, looks to be of nineteenth-century provenance.  It is smaller than twentieth-century horseshoes I’ve seen and extremely well-worn – just what I imagine to have been the state of horseshoes in less affluent yesteryear about the time they were thrown by some overworked and undernourished pony.  Who knows, this could have been a shoe from Jim Bridger’s or Kit Carson’s mount.  It may have been laying undisturbed in the desert sand for nearly two hundred years until I stumbled upon it.

My other recently acquired treasure is a curious piece of leaded glass made lavender by the desert sun.  I think it is a glass stopper to a perfume bottle.  Again, I’m no expert on perfume bottles, but as a small boy I remember seeing just such a stopper in my Grandmother Reenie’s perfume bottle.   As any collector of purple glass knows, it takes many years for leaded glass to turn from clear to the rich purple my glass stopper exhibits.  How long?  Two hundred years perhaps – just long enough for this stopper to have been discarded by a “lady of ill repute” from a territorial saloon!  She may have been clinging to the back of her outlaw boyfriend as they galloped, two-on-a-horse, across the plain with a sheriff’s posse in pursuit.  In her haste to make good her escape she had carelessly packed her most important possessions – her makeup and perfume – in a saddlebag from which the aforementioned stopper bounced!  Yeah!  That’s probably how the stopper came to be where I found it!

On a more mundane note, Mary and I rode our bicycles to Palm Canyon in the nearby Kofa Wildlife Refuge yesterday..  There, high up in a box canyon, grows a small grove of palm trees amid the general sterility of the surrounding desert.  While the sight of the Palm trees was notable, it hardly ranks with Kit Carson’s horseshoe or Diamond Lil’s perfume stopper!


Mary on the way home from Palm Canyon