Prescott, Arizona. It’s our annual spring get-away, an opportunity to do things we couldn’t do in Dubois.
We try out new hikes in different places. We purchase the items on our long-saved list for big box stores.
We have terrific meals in specialty restaurants that probably couldn’t survive year-round in our tiny, remote village in the wilderness.
We see different views. The vistas back home are spectacular indeed, but there’s nothing anywhere to match the Grand Canyon–and it’s a mere day trip from here.
It’s lovely here, and we enjoy Prescott a great deal. It’s cosmopolitan. It’s a college town. We meet many long-term residents who love this more crowded and developed town as much as we love Dubois.
They also tell us how the population has exploded in the past few decades, and how many of the lovely houses are rentals or second homes. (Could this be a vision of Dubois in the distant future? Would that be good or bad?)
This getaway is also a chance to consult with medical specialists of a kind that are few and far between back home, so I take the opportunity to chase down the source of a small matter that has bothered me for some time.
My vitals taken, as I wait in the consulting room, I leaf through the stack of random old editions of People and WebMD. Deep in the pile, I’m startled to find a copy of Wyoming Wildlife from April 2011. It contains a long essay about the bargain geology bestowed upon Wyoming: Scant population, in trade for the survival of native wildlife that was gradually exterminated elsewhere, as settlers moved west.
“Even today, it’s not the most comfortable place to make a living,” wrote the author, Chris Masson, “but it is an exceptionally fine place to make a life.”
Too true, I think, and ponder our good fortune in having settled there. Reading on, I find myself reminded why we treasure the same isolation that sometimes motivates us to leave briefly, for an escape to denser places.
“At the heart of that life is the land,” Masson wrote. “It provides resources that have faded away in most other parts of the country: herds of pronghorn, deer, and elk, bighorn in the high country, cutthroats in the creek, transparent water and air, and unobstructed view of the far horizon. Most of it all, it gives us a refuge from the grinding realities of checkbooks and emails, a place we can to savor the silence.”
Every animal he mentioned, every pleasure of that high and unspoiled country, is a description of our valley. Of course, he didn’t describe everything.
Last evening, coming home from the theater in Prescott, I looked up at the sky and was a bit dismayed to see a display of stars whose number it would actually be possible to count. Not what I’ve become used to seeing at night!
I leaf back to the front of the magazine to read the photo credits, and am in for another pleasant surprise. Cover image: Michael J. Kenney, Dubois, Wyoming. My friend and neighbor, the head of the phone company, who has given us our splendid Internet service.
Every once in a while I have delightful little moments of grace, like this one. Well put, Chris Masson, whoever you are. Thanks for the reminder.
© Lois Wingerson, 2017
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