Less than a mile from home I drove around a corner and nearly swerved into the most startling sight, a woman walking a llama with a poodle cut on a leash. At least I thought it was a llama. Tom did some nosing around and discovered that one of the neighbors rescued two llamas and two alpacas, one of which was the creature I saw on the road. Several heads taller than the woman, the alpaca was muzzled and following her lead. The middle of the animal’s body was shaved clean leaving little balls of hair on its head, legs and tail. The unusual sight thoroughly delighted me and I wore Tom’s ear off talking about it for days. My encounter with the big horn sheep in the mountains was a wonder but the shaved alpaca on a leash was pure fun!
Adjusting to life in Gold Canyon has not exactly been a challenge rather it’s been more of a surprise. After two years living in the isolation of the canyon, I anticipated my re-entry into civilization would be harsh on the senses but fortunately I find myself nestled in the foothills of the Superstitions, a place halfway between rural life and city life. Each morning I leash up the three dogs and within five minutes we are picking our way through jojobas and brittle bush in the Sonoran Desert. In the month I have been here I have hiked the Hieroglyphic Trail twice, climbed the Huff N Puff Trail of Silly Mountain and scampered up washes and mountains with Tom and the dogs several times. It satisfies my need to stretch my legs and my appreciation for the beauty of this land increases with each step I take. But there is no surprise in that, the blue sky of the Arizona desert and red rock of the mountains has become part of my soul. Rather it is the city part of this life that catches me off guard, tickles my funny bone and sparks childlike wonder.
So what else besides the alpaca has made me giggle and smile?
1. Trains spooling round and round an elaborate layout in a neighbor’s yard in honor of the Christmas holiday.
2. Cacti with Styrofoam cups on their heads to protect them from an unexpected freeze.
3. A St. Bernard dog wearing hiking boots on the Hieroglyphic Trail.
4. A double rainbow spanning the Mountain at the end of a stormy day.
5. Yellow and white roses in full bloom on the side of the house.
6. Texting, something I couldn’t do at Aravaipa due to a lack of connection.
7. Decorating a tree and baking holiday cookies for the first time in years and celebrating the holiday with my kids.
8. Building a fort in the sand with Tom’s grandchildren.
One of these days I will figure out a gracious way to meet the owner of the alpacas. I have also considered getting our dog Hank a little coat to keep him warm on the cold mornings during our walk, although I highly doubt he would want to wear it. For now I think I’ll simply grab a magic marker and go out and draw funny faces on the Styrofoam cups.