Since we live in Arizona, I decided to review a book by a famous resident of the state. Lazy B was written by none other than Sandra Day O'Connor (and her brother Alan Day); it's subtitled “Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest.” Mrs. O'Connor, of course, is one of the nine Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, and someone of whom Arizonans are very proud (even though she was born in El Paso, TX!). Lazy B is a fascinating account of life on a working cattle ranch, and an illuminating memoir of an earlier time.
“The earliest memory is of sounds. In a place of all-encompassing silence, any sound is something to be noted and remembered. When the wind is not blowing, it is so quiet you can hear a beetle scurrying across the ground or a fly landing on a bush. Occasionally an airplane flies overhead – a high-tech intrusion penetrating the agrarian peace.
When the wind blows, as it often does, there are no trees to rustle and moan. But the wind whistles through any loose siding on the barn and causes any loose gate to bang into the fence post. It starts the windmills moving, turning, creaking.”
Growing up on the Lazy B, Sandra and her brother and their cousins learned early about the importance of water, and what it is to live in such a dry place.
“The Lazy B Ranch straddles the border of Arizona and New Mexico along the Gila River. It is high desert country – dry, windswept, clear, often cloudless. Along the Gila the canyons are choked with cottonwoods and willows. The cliffs rise up sharply and are smooth beige sandstone. The water flowing down the riverbed from the Gila Wilderness to the northeast in usually only a trickle. But sometimes, after summer rains or a winter thaw in the mountains, the river becomes an angry, rushing, mud-colored flood, carrying trees, brush, rocks, and everything else in its path. Scraped into the sandstone bluffs are petroglyphs of the Anasazi of centuries past. Their lives and hardships left these visible traces for us to find, and marvel at their ability to survive as long as they did in this harsh environment.”
The Anasazi are long gone, but the harsh environment of the southwest still breeds resilient survivors, Sandra Day O'Connor and her family among them. Though the authors no longer own the Lazy B, they cherish the memories of the ranch, and the lessons the life there taught them. Be sure to read all about it!
Copyright © 2003, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.