Updated: Dec 25, 2022
A few weeks ago, at the tail end of November, I took a little road trip into Arizona. My goal was to see autumn colour in Boyce Thompson Arboretum just outside the silver and copper mining town of Superior.
In my previous trip, in April to see spring in the arboretum, I had zoomed past the small towns on the route. This time I made time to explore,
On a weekday morning, in the week after the Feast of the Great Turkey Massacre, these little once boomtowns seemed to be shuttered in the most.
There were few living people on the streets of Superior (pop 2407 in 2020 census) the day I stopped by but murals populated the spaces.
In the murals I gained some idea of who is telling the story on the walls of the mostly closed and empty downtown business district, though I, regrettably now in retrospect, did not photograph the huge vintage six shooter pointing out the local real estate agents office. Guns are not my thing.
I did meet some living downtown residents in the form of an indigenous landscape plant or two.
But there were only ghosts of the Apache peoples whose territory this was before silver and copper were discovered in late 1800s, when the area around the mines was summarily re-designated as being in the great capitalist experiment of US of A. and no longer Apache reservation.
On one crumbling and weathering wall it was hard to make out the subject, though there were miners in there. I think. Along with the philosophy and patina of dis-integration.
Is this where once were depicted Apache peoples?
I cannot say, or guess, for (I) know only/ A heap of broken images, where the sun beats....***
Drawn in by the beautiful sign on one of the few businesses open, I contributed to the local economy as best I could by investing in a terrible lukewarm cup of coffee and a stale cardboardy pineapple hand pie.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum really does offer vistas unspoiled by mining, (though, it must be said funded initially by mining) similar to those depicted in this sign.
May the Mountainside coffee shop in Superior, AZ, flourish.
***Thanks for words to accompany the experience go to Thomas Stearns Eliot, section 1 of The Wasteland. Aptly named The Burial Of The Dead.
...What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust...