21 June 2008


Russ has lived in the Southwest (if you can count time served in Dallas and grad school in Austin) since arriving at the University of Arizona for the fall semester, 1969. April moved to Tucson at age 10 and has been on arid lands for two decades. Certainly most of Russ' friends expected him to remain here, live or dead. It is a fair question to ask why we're moving to a farm in rural Virginia. You're likely to know that Russ isn't much of a writer (April is a far better wordsmith) but since he's writing this, the time honored tradition of borrowing from a superior authority will be invoked. One of Russ' old friends, Vicki B., suggested reading Barbara Kingsolver's 2007 bestseller, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

A word or two about Ms. Kingsolver's personal history might be in line. She was raised in Kentucky, graduated from the University of Arizona, spent much of her adult life there before she and her family pulled up stakes and moved to the western end of Virginia. Dang, ain't that some kind o'coincidence? Really, the only difference between 'em is she's famous already and he ain't never gonna be --- oh, and that sex thing --- she is a she. Anyways, her experience might be relevant and is thus quoted below.

"We were leaving it now in one of its uglier moments, which made saying good-bye easier, but also seemed like a cheap shot--- like ending a romance right when your partner has really bad hair. The desert that day looked like a nasty case of prickly heat caught in a long, naked wince.
...The cacti, denizens of deprivation, looked ready to pull up roots and hitch a ride out if they could. The prickly pears waved good-bye with puckered, grayish pads... Even in the best of times desert creatures live on the edge of survival, getting by mostly on vapor and their own life savings...
Tucson had opened my eyes to the world and given me a writing career, legions of friends, and a taste for the sensory extravagance of red hot chiles and five-alarm sunsets. But after twenty-five years in the desert, I'd been called home...
We wanted to live in a place that could feed us: where rain falls, crops grow, and drinking water bubble right up out of the ground... [Tucson is] a bountiful source of everything on the human need checklist, save for just one thing --- the stuff we put in our mouth every few hours to keep us alive. Like many other modern U.S. cities, it might as well be a space station where human sustenance is concerned. Virtually every unit of food consumed there moves into town in a refrigerated module from somewhere far away."

There you have it. Heck, if I could write like that you can bet the farm that I would. But I got to communicate with photographs, so tongue-tied as I is. And nobody can hardly a livin' off of pictures. Maybe raisin' lavender and mushrooms will make a living and Russ won't have to talk to nobody but the dogs and the goats (and they're mighty forgiving of poor communication skills, you know, dogs especially. They learn how to understand our language as youngins but are able to forgive the poor dumb adult humans for not being able to utter a single bark that makes any sense).

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