January’s beginning keeps winter’s cold at our feet. Geronimo rode through this riparian wonderland and we imagine him leading a weary group of fighters on their way into Mexico. The canopy of giant cottonwood trees looks ethereal from a distance – a haze against the sky. From below, we look up to another layer of life.
The San Pedro flows north. At the edge of eddies ice formed last night. The suns rays jump out to us from crystallized beauty. There are reflections in the slowly moving water, not ours, but those of logjams standing above the current. So much violence when the rains come in summer’s time. Calm now, but always ready.
Silver was discovered near Tombstone. The smelter was built miles away on the banks of the San Pedro, the nearest source of water. The tall grasses and woody stalks of riparian plants hide it all now, the remains of what was: A picture in our minds like the Apache’s love of this land and the coming of the Horse Soldiers. Ft. Huachuca is not far away, commanding the lands of Sierra Vista and Sonoita. Marking the power of strangers over the Islands in the Sky, treeless rugged mountains that stand out of the tall yellow grass plain. A place where man has lived since times when Clovis ruled over Mastodons.
The cattlemen almost killed this country. The miners built railroads, smelters, great steam-driven pumps and crushers, and a town now dead called Fairbanks. They died out like the Blue Coats, Buffalo Soldiers and those who brought an end to Geronimo and Cochise. No one won; all lost. Yet the San Pedro rolls along through beauty as if none of this ever occurred. Towns are dying or barely prospering. Man is the ghost here, bound to lose everything except appreciation for the magic of this land.