Tuesday 6:30 p.m. The wind was brisk, the night pitch black. The temperature had already fallen into the upper 20’s, very cold for Cottonwood. I dashed from my gallery to my car. Shivering, I pulled the door shut. I saw a figure coming towards me, out of the dark. A light on his head gave him an eerie look. As I put the key in my ignition, I heard, “Ann! We are back. It’s Pat!”
I looked beyond the figure to the parking lot next door. There was that big, boxy truck. I remembered it from the last time I saw Pat and his wife. I looked closer at his face. “Pat?”
I hadn’t seen Pat for the past 15 months. In October, 2018, he stopped by, told me he had wood for me down in Camp Verde, and would bring it back after a trip to Henderson. He never came back, then.
He spoke. “Maureen and I have that wood for you. It’s back in Camp Verde. We can come by Thursday. Be around then?”
“Sure, what time?”
As I drove off, I heard his scratchy truck engine as he started his truck..
Wednesday night, around 7, the door to my gallery opened. “Hey, Ann. You in here? it’s Pat.
“Wow! Your gallery has certainly changed!”
I showed him around, picked up the pieces I had with wood attached, so he would know what I wanted. “I stopped using wood for several months, but have begun using it for only some of my stuff now.”
Pat fingered the pieces I showed him. “What ya’ working on tonight?”
I showed him one piece which I was struggling to hang. It had three ceramic masks attached to a branch of wood.
“Let me get you some hooks I have. Ya can put one into this wood. Maybe it’ll help”
He went out the door and returned with a handful of different hooks. We tried several. Then we moved onto another piece giving me problems.
As we talked, Pat began to speak of several of the treasures he had in his truck. “I have these dinosaur eggs. They got DNA in ‘em. And I gotta deal with Homeland Security on this. I ain’t allowed to own them unless I can prove they were willed to me, ya’ know, mine forever, not just gotten now……Got three of “em, but one has other buds in it. Each bud has eggs. Each egg could be worth more than $100,000. I need to get to Henderson to speak with an attorney about this.”
“Oh,” he went on. “Remember those circus sideshows where they had weird stuff. And people paid to go look. I got an embryo of a cyclops pig in formaldehyde. Coulda’ been in one of those shows. Let me go get it.”
Pat returned with a jar. Inside the jar was grayish liquid and floating in the liquid was an animal with a snout and one blue eye, shining in the middle of its forehead. He also brought in one of his dinosaur eggs.
“See this?” He pointed to the outside shell on the rather shapeless mass of rock. “I thought this was the shell of the dinosaur egg, but it is the ground that was under the shell. This is the shell.” He pointed to another layer of stone. “I think this needs to be in the Smithsonian. and if I can authenticate it, I‘ll give it to them.”
“Oh. Wanna see something else? I got this enormous dildo. The guy who sold it to me said it was from some cave back in 2400 BC. It is the world’s oldest sex toy!”
He returned with a two-foot long piece of very hard, heavy stone, clearly carved with a glans at the tip. “See?” Pat brought out his phone. He flipped through several pages to show me a photo of a replica of the piece he held out to me. “Says 2400 BC!”
Pat went on to tell me about an African mask. “This preacher said it came from South Africa. He had a room full of masks. I went to p[ick this one up. When I went to put it back on its hook, I couldn’t get it on. The preacher said to me, ‘Uh-oh, you been cursed. It won’t go back on the hook. You gotta buy it.’ Paid $40 for the mask.”
My ears pricked up. An African mask? I love African masks! “Can I see it?”
Pat went back to his truck and returned with a wood carving of a face. It looked genuine! I handled it with reverence. “Could I buy this from you?”
Pat replied, “Let me think about that.” He left my studio.
He was gone for twenty minutes. I was almost ready to go home. “I had to check this out on the internet before I could let you have it.” Pat pointed to the mask sitting on my table. “It is authentic. I didn’t want to sell you a fake. I paid 40, I will give it to you for 40.”
“It’s getting late. We have that wood for you back in Camp Verde. What time will you be here tomorrow morning? We’ll bring it by then.”
“Great. See ya’ then.”
The next afternoon, Pat’s wife, Maureen, entered my studio at 4:30. “Pat is at the DMV getting the registration for the truck. He said for you to come out, look at the wood we brought you.”
She and I went through about 100 chunks of wood. I picked out the ones I wanted. “OK. when Pat gets back, you ’n him can decide on a price. and we’ll put it in the back of your studio for you.”
An hour later, when Pat returned, he and I settled on $100 for all the wood I’d selected. We went back to my wood enclosure “I see you have some huge pieces here. Probably too big! I know you’re limited in space. What if we pull those out before we put your new wood in?”
Pat and his wife wrestled the big limbs out of my space, and threw it over the fence so they could tie it down on the trailer bed behind their truck. They stacked my new wood for me in my enclosure.
“We gotta go,” Pat announced. “Got an appointment tomorrow in Kingman with that attorney about those dinosaur eggs. Maybe I’ll get rich! We’ll catch ya’ next time we come through.”
A I Long before I discovered my passion for using clay as a vehicle to show others the stark beauty of the land around me, I was a poet. From the time I learned to recognize words, I crafted these words into imagery that came alive, as it depicted the world around me.
This month, as featured artist at the Muse Gallery in Cottonwood, I will share these poetic depictions of the beauty I have found here in the Verde Valley, and those I have experienced throughout my life. I hope you can join me for this on Saturday, February 8 between two and five.
As a preview to this other side of my creativity, I want to share with you several of my poems. I will have many more next Saturday.
Tonight I stand, a rugged tree,
seemingly alone in the stillness
of God’s valley.
My patient roots
have learned to push
clods of dirt,
protecting me within their toughened skin
They grasp the fickle soil
not allowing it to wash
away in torrents of anger,
in floods of fear and hatred
in this alone-place,
in this internal struggle
to stand upright,
I can look above my precarious perch
to the jagged cliffs
the soaring peaks,
the cloud-splattered sunrise
now brightening the horizons..
Tomorrow, in renewed strength
I will become the river
that can nourish us, the trees.
I will move up, through my babbling
depths to kiss the sun.
Then I can become the clouds
that float above. I can bring
to this crumbling desert
and its thirsty roots.
All will thrive in the oneness
of God’s spectacular valley.
I live with the sun, undeterred by thirsty sand.
as I bake within its relentless rays, the scorching noons
and the chill of vacant starlit skies.
I accept the challenge of presumed emptiness,
and monotones flattened into endless blue.
To survive within desert’s vast vacuum of inhospitality,
one develops a prickle of spines, an impenetrable
armor to guard against a neighbor’s ravenous lust.
I maintain my green tones of life within a landscape
guised in dyes of brown. I flower in brilliant shades
painted by the setting sun, adding sunrise’s forgotten
shades of rose. No harsh wind nor biting clouds
of dust can permeate my sword-sharp shell. I listen
to the tedious tones of arid desert and hear silences impossible
to detect in the busy-ness of life. Even in my own barren
spaces, I warmly greet the friendly tumbleweeds drifting by.
Blessing to You, my Friend
May you discover how
to live among
these beams of sunlight,
this temple filled with all creation.
May you know warmth
within the embrace
of everything beautiful.
May you thirst for meaning
in your life,
even at the times,
when it blows through
you like a gale of monsoons;
May these reveal
to you the face of Love,
even when it blinds you.
May you live with Holy grace,
even as you stumble
on the rocks that lie
along the way.
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"