A Western Heart

I am unabashedly, immutably, a Western gal at heart.

I spent the first 22 years of my life in Tucson, Arizona, and after a year in Odessa, Texas — officially, although it’s not noted as such in the Chamber of Commerce literature, the worst place in the entire world — I moved to the Puget Sound area, where Jeff and I spent our first 18 years together. And now we live in, and dearly love, the hills of North-Central Idaho, where I plan to live for the rest of my life, counting every day a blessing.

I wouldn’t change a thing, geographically; I was born to live between mountains, among hills, around canyons, and in the wide-open spaces of the desert Southwest. I’ve been a Desert Rat, a Westside Webfoot, and a part of a homesteading Palouse family. And with the entire world ahead of me, I’d still rather explore the endless joys and fascinations of the American West before I squeeze in Rome or Paris. I think it’s safe to say I carry in my heart a strong sense of place. That’s why the words below, by UC-Berkeley Professor Edwin Dobb in the June 21, 2010, High Country News, resonated with me so strongly:

“We all create experiential maps — singular, emotionally charged geographies in which what holds the world together, giving it form and meaning, is neither calendar time nor geometric space but the lasting impressions certain occasions make upon us. According to these interior bearings, some thing that occurred, say, 35 years ago and a thousand miles away can possess a stronger presence, and feel closer in every important respect, than what happened yesterday.”

Yes, and amen . . .

I feel that way about Sabino Canyon north of Tucson, or Tumwater Creek just east of the Cascades in Washington State, or on Main Street of beautiful Sonoita, Arizona, and the one-block-long main drag of Carmen, Idaho. These are the places I will never live in, but have felt the most alive in — Western places full of the rich, perfumed soil of the desert, the mountains, the flatlands bursting with quiet promise and redolent with the fragrance of hope, discovery, and new things hewn from the oldest things on this Earth: rock, soil, and water. I find those things in abundance out West, and only the day I cease to draw breath will make it not so.

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