Thirty-two years ago, out hiking, my husband happened upon this place: an abandoned homestead, a patch of private land bordering Arizona’s Superstition Wilderness, surrounded by national forest. Then, it was only a cattle roundup camp — cows slept in the farmhouse, hayfield a snarl of mesquite. But Peter had a vision. He found the owner and proposed to buy it. Peter said, “I’d like to put in a garden and an orchard and make it a little garden of Eden.” The rancher said, “That’s the most sensible thing I’ve heard so far.”
So it is today, a paradise in the desert, where we grow peaches, apples, grapes, lettuce, melons, corn. From far above, it appears an emerald set in moss — the rugged hills around carpeted with catclaw, manzanita, juniper; our valley leaf-green, shining. Sycamores and cottonwoods stand with their feet in the creek; fruit and nut trees gather in the orchard; the vegetable garden, an acre, holds the heart. Chickens peck and dart along the fence; the ducks are down at the creek, risking hawks. From the kitchen table I look out on the garden’s climbing rows, the orchard beyond (gossamer today, dressed in tulle), the gray-green arms of the embracing hills, and, above all, stone-faced Reavis Mountain.
As long as God grants us water in the creek, this land is all we need. We grow enough food to share, make our own medicines from desert plants, and earn a little cash by teaching: wilderness survival, plant study, natural healing. Our own learning never ends: to farm, to live together, to appreciate. And to get along with our neighbors, the bobcats, fox, snakes, hawks — this is their home more than ours, as it remains the home of the Hohokam and the pioneers whose children’s bones rest here.
This land nourishes me with its bounty, its beauty, its call to work, its rhythms which have become my own. Its soil has become, literally, my flesh. Its history and future are my own, just as my life is bound to my husband’s. I am astonished to discover that home can mean all this.