St. Xavier Mission, Tucson, AZ

A couple days after Christmas 2015, I traveled to Tucson to visit some old friends

Outside the desert mission, I ate this red chile tamale we bought from a family cooking under a shelter of cactus ribs. There was a friendly, three legged dog helping to serve and an abundance of bees attracted by the sweet frybread and honey.

It’s our tradition to visit the tiny chapel full of candles, and touch the bald head of the wooden Saint who is covered in his Christmas blanket that sparkles with milagros, to light a candle in the courtyard — which I tell the kids is just another way get your wishes out there –and to walk up to the grotto where pilgrims hand their desires and fears over to the Our Lady and an army of smaller saints.

Last time we were there, the weather was so hot we couldn’t even enter the chapel with all its candles burning.

Yesterday, the weather was so cold, we all had our winter coats on, though the saguaros and the blooming barrel cactuses didn’t seem to notice at all.

A good feeling: permanence, impermanence, and a full belly.

Sarah R. Rodlund

Sarah is a writer and traveler.