What would first catch your eye in this high desert town (4,200 ft) is the GREEN. The soft winter greens of juniper and pine have been brought to vibrant life, the leafy spring-green of the many mesquite trees bursting with the promise of pods that can be ground into a nutty flour in the fall.
Next might be the succulents, both high and low, the many varieties of cacti, ocotillo, agave, yucca and other plants and wildflowers that provide a feast of color, shapes, forms and food. Or it may be the swaying of the winter golden of grasses that are slowly greening from the bottom up.
If you look up and around, you will notice that the hills and mountains may have evidence of the occasional light snowfalls of winter, but now are covered with patches and fields of green. If you look above you, you will see a blanket of bright blue where very large white cumulus or cirrus clouds arise later in the day. Morning and evening, you will see vultures soaring gracefully. On most nights, except in monsoon season, you would see a brilliant starry night sky with clearly defined constellations. If you would drive a few miles out of town, you would be astonished to view the stone guardians made of prehistoric volcanic ash. We enjoy hiking in the nearby wild canyons where we seldom meet another human being.
As for people, you would see snowbirds readying themselves to head back to warming northern climates, an influx of spring birdwatchers, AZ Trail hikers, cyclists and tourists and locals interacting with the eclectic population. As a long-term resident, you would see many new faces, a few new popular venues and much more traffic than previous years.
Patagonia, a unique Sky Island town, is becoming quite popular. It offers an opera house, a community art center, a great public library, lectures by well-known (some local) scientists, astrologers, writers and artists, and friendly, conscious citizens. It also has become a popular place for the return of mining, because of its rich mineral resources. Not only will you see an upsurge of traffic with huge trucks and construction machinery, but just a couple of miles from town, you can witness the actions of a very large mining operation that is blasting its way into Mother Earth and disturbing this geologically unique quiet, peaceful life of humans and wildlife that depend on nurturing and maintaining the balance of nature.
If you listen, you will hear the flapping and fluttering of vultures and hawks as they fly by overhead, the incessant cawing of ravens, the pecking and squawking of birds and, of course, the staccato sounds and melody of the many different birds adding their song to the chorus. The whir of hummingbird wings is a frequent and welcome sound. Occasionally, you will hear and feel the vibrations of an underground mining blast.
If you are tuned in to the sounds of community, you’ll hear children squealing and laughing while playing in the dry sandy wash or on the playground, the hum of conversation at the Senior Center or the post office or bakery and along the short boardwalk of shops and restaurants that is the center of town. You will hear both English and Spanish spoken, and a sprinkling of languages from distance lands.
And if you hear lively music, it will be the talented local musicians and vocalists who have us singing and dancing weekends and throughout the year.
When you leave the center of town, just a short distance where there are trees and even a walking path, BREATHE IN. Inhale the smell of FRESH AIR, a rarity in so many other towns. If you go out of town for a mile or two, where Sonoita Creek and Wiggly Springs run, you will be inhaling fresh, moist air and the smell that water plants like watercress give off. You breathe in the astringent smell of juniper and pine, the drying and decomposing vegetation, and the breath of life itself.
Patagonia is a tapestry of sights, a mosaic of forms, a concert of sounds, a bouquet of scents. A beautiful place to live, an eclectic community of conscious, caring people, many who walk their talk. We are grateful that we chanced upon Patagonia 15 years ago even though we had to return a number of times before we truly said, “We are home.”