Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Last night was one of those beautiful, spacious cold nights, which we enjoy regularly up here at the 5,000 foot altitude here. The quiet was broken only by gusts of winds trying to decide if they were going to deliver any serious seasonal changes or just blow my hat off for their entertainment.

I love going out long after sunset with my trusty Murray-dog and a bag of carrots, and we stand outside regardless of the weather and feed the horses over the fence.

Even though we live literally three miles from the Mexican border, Murray is a fierce protector.... or, at the very least, a strident barker when anyone or anything comes within 20 yards of our property, including rabbits, stary feral cats, dogs, people and very occasionally even a rattlesnake.

Now, even before 9/11, there have always been a large number of Border Patrol trucks, foot patrols and horseback patrols ALL around us ALL hours of the day, especially since we live between Mexico and the next major road (read that 'paved'). This has become a major 'corridor' for crossing the border without having to show a passport or be searched, and for years before the wall construction, as easy as slipping under a poorly maintained barbed wire fence in the dark.

But any illegal immigrants, drug smugglers, coyotes (human ones), etc. that may pass through our back (or front) yards are moving as fast as they possibly can to GET to some kind of transportation on or beyond the highway. They aren't hanging around to take in the sights.

So I don't worry about it too terribly much.

Being outside in the middle of pitch blackness.

Alone with my dog and horses.


Except last night.

Last night, around 9:30 p.m. (2130) Murray was contentedly laying on the ground by my feet, and I had two horses contending for my attention (i.e. fighting to be the first to get a carrot) when I heard some music.

Remember that I am partially deaf, I am over 50, and I have a cavity filling that picks up Tucson and sometimes Mexican radio stations at odd times. So when I 'hear' something, my first impulse is to look at Murray, who has way-beyond-perfect hearing - he knows when my truck is turning off the aforementioned highway two miles away Honest.

My dog was looking abstractly around, probably to determine if it was music worth listening to (he has very high standards), so I began, in my one-ear-working-and-can't-tell-directions way, to slowly rotate 360 degrees to figure out where the sound was coming from.

Also (sorry for all these reminders, just trying to set the scene up properly) keep in mind that we have no lights out here. NONE.

No street lights, no businesses, parking lots, schools, and instead in place we have a WONDERFUL bunch of light pollution laws (which until I moved out here sounded like sissy 'green' laws placed to mess people up - wait, I sound like a Republican right there, don't I? - but since living out here have become a passionate supporter of these same laws - so am I now a Democrat?). It limits all porch lights, floodlights and driveway lighting to KEEP it dark so you can SEE the stars and moonlight and that entire galaxy/universe thing.

I finally am able to pick out the parking lights of two moving vehicles that also seem to be the source of the music.

Normally if I see a car without headlights on in our area after dark, I call the Border Patrol without hesitation. And it's almost always a drug or illegal pick-up or drop-off.

I was thinking twice about this one, however, since they were playing music loud enough to heard two miles away and did have their parking lights on.

Murray and I walked a little bit closer, and I finally recognized what it actually was - one car towing a flat-bed trailer, which was filled with probably ten to fifteen Christmas carolers, who were singing along (poorly) with a tape recording of some female professional-sounding voice, and one car simply following with some more singers.

A drive-by caroling.