Early this morning, Jana and I were out walking Pearl as the sun began to rise in the east. Pearl, whom many of you have yet to meet, is the successor to Buffy the Wonder Dog. Buffy grew up and spent most of her days lounging on the mat in front of the Kokopelli doors. Winter, spring, summer, and fall, she maintained her post. Being a golden retriever, she loved meeting people and was at all times diligent in her work, never missing an opportunity to greet a customer or make a good impression. Buffy passed many years ago, and since that time, Twin Rocks has been devoid of dogs. No longer.
Pearl arrived at the Simpson house one evening in early December. Her owner had apparently concluded he or she could no longer sustain a pet and unceremoniously abandoned Pearl in the center of town, a few blocks from our home. Soon after that abandonment, Jana and a few concerned community members decided Pearl should be adopted into the Simpson clan. After a few months of acclimation at the historic L. H. Redd Jr. home on Mulberry Avenue, Pearl has begun the training necessary to succeed Buffy as the daily canine companion of Rick, Susie, Priscilla, and Steve. While she has large shoes to fill---since Buffy was internationally known and universally loved---Pearl seems up to the challenge. Still a bit skittish and inclined to wander if she gets a chance, Pearl is settling in and developing a workable routine.
As Jana, Pearl, and I rambled down Mulberry Avenue, the streets stretched out towards the old Jones Hay Farm and the sun began to crest the horizon. It was, in a word, glorious. At a time when Bluff should be bustling with tourists, the novel coronavirus has left the town quiet, almost ghostly. It has not, however, diminished the stark beauty of this narrow river valley or the spirit of its small population.
The coral cliffs illuminated and the turquoise-colored sky shimmered while Pearl sniffed the budding plants and Jana evaluated the Netflix movie that she, Grange, and I had watched the prior evening. The verdict was mixed on both fronts. The world seems to have become more complex almost overnight and that was reflected in the conversation and in the time it took Pearl to snoop out what animals had gone before.
At Twin Rocks Trading Post and Café, we have had many inquiries regarding our status. The town of Bluff recently issued a directive closing all nonessential businesses. That, and a quarantine of residents living on the Navajo Nation, virtually our entire staff, has left the trading post and café closed to the public until further notice. After a brief period of uncertainty and economic soul searching, Rick suggested we stop fretting and begin looking for the opportunity in this crisis. Consequently, that process has begun in earnest. Frances is re-imagining Twin Rocks Café, and Rick, Susie, Priscilla, and I are brainstorming how we push forward with our plan to make Twin Rocks the trading post of the 21st-century.
As I pondered the job ahead and the effects of the novel coronavirus, it struck me that a corona is typically something extraordinary, unusual, and even beautiful. The dictionary defines it as a “white or colored circle or set of concentric circles of light seen around a luminous body, especially the sun or moon.” A corona is usually hidden from our view by the bright light of the sun’s surface, making it difficult to see without special instruments. It can, however, be easily identified during a total solar eclipse, as the moon passes between earth and sun. That seemed an especially appropriate metaphor for what we are presently experiencing in the US and around the world.
Since the mandated closure, most mornings Frances and I sit on the porch with our coffee infused with honey and cream and watch the bluffs blush with early light, strategizing what we will be when this eclipse passes. We intuitively understand things are hard to visualize right now, but we also know that if we apply our special instruments, acquired over many years, we will find a workable solution. We know there is beauty out there because we see it in the character of Bluff’s young residents, the ones who have organized a food-distribution network out of the empty dining rooms of Twin Rocks Café and the ones who are keeping this tightly knit community from fraying under the stress of a pandemic.
As I went about my work earlier today, I found myself humming a tune from the musical Annie. “The sun’ll come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun. Just thinkin’ about tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow . . . .” At Twin Rocks, we are exploring the future and working to identify the beauty illuminated by this corona. We have already witnessed some of it in the people of this small town and the many ways they are responding to the present uncertainty. Be assured, the sun’ll come out tomorrow, and tomorrow we will be better than we are today. Tomorrow, it's only a day away.