desert

What it is to be (here) by Heidi Geist


Wind gusts over the desert floor, through thorny brush and rock, a bully…it slams the bus to make a point…leaving another obnoxious coating of dust. The art supplies, the counter tops and bed, what food and dishes are exposed. 

I walk barefoot, cringing at the impossible cleanliness that was washed away in New Mexico, with the apocalyptic sand storm…the one that claimed a solar panel and found its way into all my orifices, rocking the bus-not sweetly-but malevolently…persistent and violent.

That sun. It’s heat is growing more intense, though daily winds keep it in check. When the clouds roll over the blue sky, a relief is had, transient as it is. I’ve painted my skylight, my windshield, and double-layered curtains drape over the back windows. The roof is white, though none of this matters much, out here. Exposed. The bus is an ant under a magnifying glass.

I run a small fan. It helps the dog, Churro, who lazes on my bed…forgetting the afternoons….gifting them to the native creatures who scurry under mesquite bushes. Water is work, but must always be available. The well is a short walk from the bus, perhaps a third mile down the rutted dirt driveway. We make our daily pilgrimages to the well for drinking water, the dogs often trail behind, until a jackrabbit or lizard is spotted.

I hung a small wind chime from a mesquite tree in my garden. It sings like a hushed Italian aria, haunting a night-long dream, reminding me of my detached place in the universe, and hypnotizing, it lulls my mind to distant realities.

When it rains…it doesn’t really ever rain, but when it does… it falls like an exclamation point.

Sleep is fragmented. Coyotes yip in packs, and the dogs answer back. 

Stars present grandiose exhibitions, and the moon… when the moon is full, it enters stage center…a spotlight in the spotlight, rising proud and loud over silhouettes of mountains. 

I leave. Driving, driving, driving, driving. The road gives so much, a generous portion of eye candy, and social dance.


Another Blog Post by Heidi Geist

Sometimes I don’t blog, because I feel like writing about myself on the regular can feel a bit self absorbed or whatever…especially when I should be keeping up with the stories of my collaborating breweries. It’s challenging to balance a sort of project diary here, without divulging all the details, that I’d prefer save for the book. After all, who wants to read the same book twice?

In all honestly, I feel a bit overwhelmed by this aspect of things-the writing and the vlogging….that never was. In the beginning, I wanted to share my experience after each brewery visit, but fell behind, and now, to go back and fill in the cracks… ayayay. Be patient with me, because this is something that I find to be absolutely necessary to the success of this trip, but they will be strung together, out of order and somewhat chaotically!

Presently, I’m sitting, laptop on my…lap…on the bed in Fearless, Churro napping by my side…windows down, in the Arizona desert. It is still early and the sun has yet to wake the earth with its scorching rays. For now, she is still sleepy and her gentle morning light has partnered with this slow spring breeze, to give me the ideal writing conditions. This land is my brother’s, eighty acres of mesquite brush and red earth, hugged by a 360 degree mountain view. We are in the southwest of Arizona, not far from the border, and the artsy little mining town of Bisbee.

Bisbee was a destination for our family back when I was a kid. We lived in Tucson, and liked to take the hour and a half drive down here to sup on Thanksgiving dinner, provided by the historic, and certainly haunted, Copper Queen Hotel. A hotspot for retired folks with a thirst for the slow life, artists, aging hippies and the hiking culture. It has, in recent years, become a bit of a tourist destination, but that hasn’t dulled the scene.

If you’ve never been to states like Arizona, or Nevada, you’ve probably never experienced the extreme contrast in nature versus village/city…in the way that each community is like an isolated island…which may be redundant, but to grasp the full scope. It isn’t for everyone. I happen to thrive in this landscape-to have the best of both worlds, right at your fingertips….endless options for outdoor exploration, while that rich culture of cuisine, nightlife, the arts….lies only a short drive away.

You can choose your own adventure out here.

My brother and his long time best friend and girlfriend (same person) are modern day pioneers. They have built a life from nothing, from the desert floor, with patience and pain, with love and passion. The homesteading life isn’t the easy one. There are no easily attainable creature comforts, nothing comes without a little extra work. But this is who we are…our family. The reward of seeing your garden begin to sprout in a dry, dusty land…sitting down for a meal, after having to walk a quarter mile to the well for water to boil, sitting by a juniper fire, in the full moon light, and still able to see the stars at night. The rewards are as plentiful as the work, if you are willing to see what it is to be human. Thats not to say there is only one respectable way to live in this world, or that many people these days would ever enjoy anything about this lifestyle.

It is in the balance of these things, however, that honest happiness springs.