By Paul Ross,
Near the top of a hill strewn with driveways, mesquite, chest-high chain link, and pale amber grasses, sits the former elementary school of Patagonia, Arizona. The stucco walls, a few shades lighter than the surrounding grass, hold up red-brown roofs one story above ground. One building breaks this standard, standing a square forty feet tall with steps to help one ascend to the door. This “ole main,” now houses the Patagonia Museum.
Inside is the most professional middle school science fair project you’ve ever seen, repurposed to tell the stories of living in south-central Arizona. Amongst the lovingly cut foamboard displays, antique tobacco cans, and an old saloon piano nests the words, “the journey of water is the thread that weaves people, plants, and wildlife to place…”
Nothing sums our time here up like those words, perhaps followed by, “and we are here, trying to shore up the seams.” The people working for and with Borderlands Restoration gave us the chance to lend a hand to this purpose. With a melon-sized rock in one hand, and desert seeds spilling from the other, these people are doing their darndest to slow the unraveling of the dusty yellow and green sweater in which they live.
This sweater is woven from a weft of soil and rain, and a warp of scrub, trees, grasses, lizards, coyotes, cattle, hares, and people. The sweater has snagged on the barbs of various borders that have been drawn onto the region, and for various reasons, some of these snags are enough to pull the threads apart from one another. Borderlands restoration is committed to enabling the reweaving of the yanked sections, as well as slowing the further parting of threads. Follow the water, recognize its subtle and ferocious power, and live in a slow and gentle manner, so that the water may do the same.