Thursday, April 11, 2019

Tucson Lit: High Tide in Tucson

White Sands, pink dusk, at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. September 2013.

If you ask me, when something extraordinary shows up in your life in the middle of the night, you give it a name and make it the best home you can.

The above quote is by Barbara Kingsolver, from her essay, High Tide in Tucson, in her collection of essays by the same title. She tells the story about a hermit crab that became an accidental stowaway on her return from a Caribbean vacation to her desert home in Tucson.

Ms. Kingsolver and her daughter enfolded "Buster" into their family, where he practiced his peculiar-to-them ways.

I wasn't aware that Barbara Kingsolver made Tucson her home for two decades.

I loved the complex texture of her novel, The Poisonwood Bible, which I read many years ago.

But that's not the first memory that comes to mind when I think of Ms. Kingsolver.

Instead, I think immediately of my former colleague, Jessica Terrell.

Hours before Jessica died in a car crash, Jessica shared her admiration for Ms. Kingsolver's work with a co-worker at the New Mexico Department of Natural Resources.

I might amend Ms. Kingsolver's quote to read: "When someone extraordinary shows up in your life, you cherish that encounter, whether it be short-lived or long."

Jessica was extraordinary, and she is inextricably linked in my mind to Barbara Kingsolver.

It is my good fortune to have met a goodly number of extraordinary women and men.

I could say that I make a soft and warm home for each of these souls in my house of memories. I visit them in their rooms there. I sit on their plush, downy beds and I reminisce with them about what they have given me in their words or deeds about how to live richly, even with tragedies.

I smile as I remember.

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