November 20, 2018

dogs bark, crickets chirp, agaves grow

dogs bark, crickets chirp, agaves grow
in and around Patagonia, Arizona
Jess Zeglin

A dog stands barking at the intersection of the Calle Internacional and a street I can’t see the name of through the fence. She is casually informing me not to infringe on her territory. I wanted to make friends with this dog, but in order to do so I would have to climb up and over the massive barrier or find my way to one of only a few border crossing and the many bureaucracies, fears, and threats awaiting there. Instead, the dog and I just stare at each other while I wave hello and she continues to bark at the strange human across the street. For several minutes this interaction occurs, me waving and saying hi, her barking to determine if I really am a threat. Am I? Physically, no - I would never make it on the climb up the three story monument to nationalism sitting between us. Politically, socially, maybe I am. Eventually the pup decides I’m not worth the trouble. She slumps down into a good-natured pile of fur to nap in the sun. I walk away from her, footsteps crunching on the gravel of the border patrol road, back to the American side of a landscape that has no interest in being divided.

Standing in a field of tall grasses at dusk, recording a constellation of cricket sounds while feeling the oceans of grass rustle around me. I’m standing as still as possible to get decent audio, attempting to ignore the hungry, itchy mosquitos that have discovered my foolishly unmoving self and are taking advantage of the available meal. Realizing that this eternal-feeling hillside is actually part of a luxury home development property and will likely be transformed to faux-adobe buildings with nice pools before the next time I can come back and visit.


Meeting baby agaves for the first time, learning about how they are suffering population losses due to climate change, use in tequila and bacanora industries, and general disregard. Visiting a clonal agave patch that has grown in the same place for centuries and was likely established and cultivated by ancestral indigenous people to whom this land was a corridor of life. Planting baby agaves in what we hope will be a brand new patch, a small but deeply moving gesture of hope and solidarity with generations before and after us.

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