Sunday, February 24, 2013

More ghost-type stories and other tidbits

Our wine tour guide, Brad, got to telling a few stories between tastings and his best involved the grandfather of his wife's niece, or something like that. Brad's wife, Kate, is Hopi and knew a local shaman, a distant relative. This particular shaman was very powerful and had developed the rare ability to shape-shift. Need to get somewhere in a hurry? Shape-shift into an eagle. Need to be quick but blend in to the local flora and fauna? Turning into a deer does the trick.

As it happens, all went along well enough until one day a couple of guys driving late at night hit a deer on a back road, killing it. It was about this time that the Hopi shaman went missing. The two guys who hit the deer checked with the local tribal authorities to get the OK to claim the deer for food, which was the local practice. When they went back, the deer was gone but -- you guessed it -- the body of the shaman lay in that very spot.

So, anyway ... our Candlewood Retreat B&B in Clarkdale was completely off the grid -- all power generated on site through solar panels, supplemented on cloudy days with a generator. The water came from a well. We couldn't tell any difference. Our hosts, Rennie and Andrea, are quite an interesting couple. Andrea, besides taking care of  us generally and preparing breakfast every morning, is a world-class belly dancer, and trained massage therapist, while Rennie runs an architectural business out of his studio on the grounds. It snowed huge flakes the first day, so we didn't get to enjoy the beautiful courtyard outside our room. Our stay was restful and our conversations with Andrea were enlightening.

Javelina in Arizona.
Paca in Costa Rica.
Pulling out of the B&B, which is at the very end of a dirt lane in a canyon, we came across a bunch of javelina. They look like feral pigs, but they are not of the pork, ham or bacon food group. Contrary to local myth (most people here seem to not really appreciate javelina, which can do some real damage to agricultural areas like grape vines), they are neither rodents nor pigs but members of the peccary family, found only in the southwest U.S., Mexico and Central and South America. Their skin makes nice gloves. I don't know what a peccary is, but let's just say it's a cross between a pig and a paca, which is a Central American rodent said to be delicious (and which we ran across in Costa Rica).

We stopped at Montezuma Castle (where I became particularly intrigued by the mottled bark of the Arizona sycamore tree (the sycamore is the mascot for Indiana State University) and Montezuma Well before visiting John and Susun Parsons at their ingenious straw bale home in Rimrock. It's a beautiful off-the-grid winter place, built by hand brick by brick and bale by bale. Good job, John and Susun!

Yesterday we spent the afternoon at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix. For a full pictorial overview, head over to my Facebook Pretty Pictures page.

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