On The Cusp of Yule

2

December 24, 2019-

It’s raining, it’s pouring, but this older man is not snoring.  There is much to get done today, including a haircut.  There will also be drop-ins at a few of my favourite shops downtown, to wish all a Merry Christmas.  For many, the day before Christmas tends to be THE time to get together with friends and family, for revelry and perhaps some of the gift giving that comes with the season, as we know it.  This aspect of Christmas is derived from the pre-Christian Yule, a staple of ancient Western and Northern Europe, and itself a brightening of dreary winter days.

Tomorrow, the true spiritual essence of the day will have a special significance, as I will celebrate with one of my best friends, and my daughter-in-law will be there for the occasion.  Those who know me at all, know that while I live alone, the importance of family and friends in my life can never be minimized.  Son would be here, but he is tending to separation from active duty, and that brief sacrifice of time with his loved ones will come to an end, in a week’s time.

There will also be time spent on the phone, starting with  a call to an ailing cousin, this afternoon, and to my mother, siblings and in-laws tomorrow.  Cards are a fading tradition, for many, so we find other ways to connect.  Gifts, at least from yours truly, have been given or sent- or are ready to be given in person, tomorrow.

Finally, there is this:  In the core of my being, I know that the Creator never has left us alone and never will.  It is constant, daily remembrance of His love for us, which brings hope and joy, even in what is, outwardly, the darkest of days.  Today will sparkle, in spite of the grey skies and rainfall.  So, too, will tomorrow.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 26: Homage to a Chief, and Hail to the Heathens

4

December 24, 2014, Vail, AZ-  Growing up, and especially in my teens and twenties, Christmas Eve almost achieved a holiday status all its own.  As a young adult, it almost became a not-so-dry run for its sister Eve, a week later.  This morning, I scouted around for a breakfast place in Lordsburg.  The Pilot Truck Stop store turned out to be the closest thing to such an establishment, since I swore off fast food chains, a while back.  (Well, I do go in Subway, now and then, but you get the picture.)  Armed with a blueberry muffin and high test coffee, I checked out of Holiday Motel and headed west.

Cochise, the famed Apache warrior chief, was a complex man.  His thoughts on the state in which he found himself and his people were summed up by his observation to General Crook that the common enemy of both Apache and American was the Spaniard, who had long since disappeared from these lands, to be replaced by the Mexican, whom Cochise neither understood, nor trusted.  He didn’t particularly like Crook, but he did see the General as a man of his word.  The feeling was mutual.

Cochise would probably like the way in which his old redoubt, the Stronghold that bears his name, has been kept largely wild.  There are horse camps and vacation cottages nearby, but the campsites that are set aside, for those who come to pay their respects to him, are primitive.  Pack it in, pack it out, just as the Chiricahua people did.

I walked a short distance, from the Day Use trailhead, to the base of the Dragoons, and said quiet prayers to the Father of us all.  Like Quanah Parker did, at the Sipapu in Palo Duro Canyon, nearly three years ago, Cochise communicated with me:  “You are ever welcome at this place.  Return, at length, when you are able, my son.  For now, go in peace and harmony, and above all else, keep your word.”

SAM_3498 SAM_3502 SAM_3504 The ruggedness of Cochise Stronghold was soon replaced by the wild yapping of those whose owners call them the Heathen Hounds.  Hacienda Ranch lies a fair stretch down towards the road from Vail Steak House, one of my homes away from hom, when I’m down this way.  The Heathens and their people came this way, from Oklahoma, about six months ago.  These are hounds (chihuahuas) that like all such little critters, would gladly enjoy me as their breakfast.  Bob and Tamy are of a different opinion regarding yours truly, and so I was given a fine lunch and a nice little guest room.  So, I hailed the Heathens from the other room, and went off with Bob, exploring the low country, and a winding hill.

SAM_3505 After such a repast, the confluence of the Chihuahua and Sonoran Deserts called out pretty loudly.  There are no sahuaro, or yucca, in this transition zone, but everything else is here, including the javelina and coyotes.

SAM_3508 These ancient rocks are found along a wash, just southwest of Hacienda.SAM_3509 SAM_3511 SAM_3512 Bob and i went a bushwackin’ through the scrub, and found this seasonal tank.  He thinks a larger one lies just to the west of this one.  Maybe on a future jaunt, one or both of us will find it.SAM_3513 Th scene is recorded for posterity.SAM_3514 These next scenes are from the winding road up a nearby hill.SAM_3516 SAM_3519SAM_3517 SAM_3521 In the absence of sahuaro, the ocotillo take full advantage.  The dogs didn’t take advantage of me, but even if they tried, I’d have loved to death.

This Christmas Eve was spent watching a rebroadcast of A Christmas Story 2″, which bored me to tears, and . another, of “Pearl Harbor”, which delivered the full horror of that awful day.   One element of surprise, though, led to another, and as Admiral Yamamoto said, the sleeping giant had been awoken.