In 2015 I was living on 40 acres of desert land in Apache County, Arizona, in a tiny yurt+teepee combo I’d built myself – and, just as much, in my 1992 Toyota shortbed named Henry. I wrote this about page back then and am saving it here, a relic from the before time.
My name is Toze Weaver.* Right now I’m sitting in the back of my truck and the wind is blowing thirty, forty miles an hour, making the truck rock a little on its wheels. The sun is low in the west and the grasses and shrubs and cacti, which don’t quite cover the sandy ground, are quivering in the wind and casting long flickering shadows. Off to the east a wide mass of rain clouds is moving northward.
I’m parked at the foot of a shallow hill that blocks my view to the southeast – good, as otherwise I would be able to see the stacks and smoke of the coal-fired generating plant. In all other directions gently rolling terrain makes a carpet to the horizon in variegated greens: mossy green of grass and sage, brighter green of broom, dark green of junipers, the junipers ranged along the hilltops at the horizon.
To my right, an old barbed-wire fence stretches east and west – the poles are limbs of juniper, weathered gray; some still have bark; strips of it flick in the wind. Juniper posts means it’s an old fence. The road I’m parked on is an old ranch access road, hardly ever traveled now. Every time I leave my place and come back, it’s a little more overgrown. Badgers dig foot-wide holes between the two tracks. A mile farther on the road, I was walking once and found a shard of Zuni pottery, right in the middle of the road.
Several times a day and at night I hear the wheels of the trains that carry coal to the power station. Sometimes the engine blows its whistle. Right now, the sound would be drowned out by the wind against the windows of my truck.
Forty acres of this rolling, grassy, sandy, windy terrain are mine. I live here. I’m trying to build my home, my life, here. I want to build a new kind of life for myself, make a place for a way of being that is ethical, authentic, self-responsible, devotional, creative, and – what might seem paradoxical – engaged and active: alive to the needs of my human family and our suffering world, as well as responsive to my own needs and the whisperings of my soul.
I’m alone here, very purposefully so. I’ve been married twice, had my share of dogs and cats and romances. At present it seems important that I be alone for substantial amounts of time. But this degree of isolation isn’t what I need all the time: I make long visits to my mother and to friends’ places, and I probably always will, even when I have a proper house here. When I have editing work, I hang out at the libraries in St. Johns and Show Low, catch up with the friendly people there, and go to movies; I’m taking an absorbing online class on writing, led by Bayo Akomolafe, which is helping me make friends around the world; I participate in a Divine Truth discussion board. I long to knit with the ladies at the yarn shop in Mesa; go to Qi Gong class and meet friends for Chinese tea; see live music in Tempe; hang out at the hacker space in Mesa and learn metal work and electronics. Soon.
When I’m here, I don’t see another human face, unless a ranch hand happens to drive along this access road, a thing that’s happened exactly twice in the past year. I talk to the larks and the lizards and whoever else wanders by. I work on building this place. I read and write. I pray.
My intention here isn’t to encourage people to come out west and buy up all the cheap land – although I do hope to live in such a way that if everyone did what I am doing, this would be a good thing. I don’t believe it’s right for every person to, like me, build a tiny yurpee or live mostly in the back of a truck. I don’t even know what’s right for me, myself, yet. I’m working on finding it, making it. I hope by writing about this adventure I can offer something of value.
*Toze Weaver is my pen name, my chosen, “wild” name. My everyday, domesticated, civilized, legal, given name is Patricia Sanders.