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The Harshaw Cemetery

I was over to Harshaw last week. It lies south of Patagonia on the east slope of the Patagonia Mountains, not surprisingly situated on the Harshaw Road. Will Barnes says in his essential book “Arizona Place Names” that the place was named for David Tecumseh Harshaw who settled there in 1875. Barnes says the Mexicans first named it “Durasno” because of peach trees “probably planted by some early padre.” I find it somehow agreeable that priests get credit for peach trees.

There’s a big sign that marks the town site so you can’t hardly miss it. A bit further there’s a very big tree — sycamore, I think — and beyond that the town’s cemetery. It sits on hill, and some of the graves are hidden and some overgrown. But the graves are adorned with colorful flowers and looked after with a good bit of affection and respect. It is a very peaceful resting place.

There are two graves side by side, Mariano and Josefa Soto. They seem to get the most attention. I would wager that come November there’s lot of activity here. November brings the Day of the Dead, Dia de Los Muertos, a great cultural tradition. The Day of the Dead reminds me of Thornton Wilder’s 1927 novel “The Bridge of San Luis Rey.” The last dozen lines in that book that are among the greatest of American literature:

” ‘Even now,’ ” she thought, ” ‘almost no one remembers Esteban and Pepita, but my self. Camila alone remembers her Uncle Pio and her son; this woman, her mother. But soon we shall die and all memory of those five willhave left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.’ ”

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