Friday, December 4, 2009
I went on a writer’s retreat last week at the COD ranch in Oracle, AZ. The setting was perfect for getting plenty of work done. No distractions. None. The nearest shopping center was 45 minutes away. The closest thing to entertainment was the Biosphere 2, about five miles north.
The ranch had fallen to ruin before Steve Malkin bought it a dozen years ago and made it his life work to bring it back to life as a retreat center. The little bungalows or casitas were charmingly decorated in Southwest motifs.
Mine had this view:
The food cooked by manager Dave and his wife Stacy was plentiful and delicious. It’s amazing what you can get done once all your basic needs have been met.
It helps to be surrounded by like-minded people. The folks that came to this retreat, some published, many not, were inspiring in their determination to dive full on into their projects. All had put busy lives on hold to come to the retreat and write. The rooms crackled with the collective energy of words getting put on the page.
Turned out we were surrounded not just by writers, however. And that crackling noise – sounds of teeth gnashing. In the pretty scrub filled hills around the ranch’s buildings lived a jaunty herd of javelinas. Before I got to the COD ranch, I didn’t know such an animal existed. It’s a peccary, a type of swine.
I didn’t actually see one up close until I’d been there several days. I’d heard of them, of their noisy eating habits (prickly pear cactus wouldn’t be my first choice), smelled their presence and caught two crossing the road one night. On Friday, shortly after dawn, I had my first encounter. They ignored me while I took pictures.
It’s odd to think we’d been living side by side all week without me ever seeing them. What else is lurking in the bushes? What lies beneath? Good questions for a writer to ponder.