Growth: Merging Labor and Love 

Refugio Savala

How things are natural in the wild When the flowers streams and the light And the trees offer the shade so mild, And protect the feeble bird aflight Like the mother's tender love for a chld, Add to pleasure the most sensual delight.

After my father had been away six months, there was a stepfather for us three children. With our new father we got a new sister named Eloisa, and she claimed she got a mother, a sister, and us two brothers. Our new father was not a railroad man. Best of all, he was not a drinking man. He was a big man, a heavy set six footer who worked adobes by contract. In this work, he made men of us two boys. He ran the molder for four bricks of prepared mud, while my brother Fernando ran the wheelbarrow. I would prepare the mud with straw and dung. We got thirty dollars for a thousand bricks. In a week's work we also put time into laying out the adobes for the sun to dry them and into stacking them for delivery. 

Then the time came for our father to work out of town up on Cañada del Oro, which is on the west end of the Catalina mountain range. He was given a big green wagon with a horse team to take the whole family, and we loaded all our possessions and headed up north toward the Catalinas. We came to a park, the last grocery store, then crossed Rillito River. No bridge was put up in those days, so we went across the river, but there was no water, so the crossing was on the sandy riverbed. Then we came up to the top of the hill. Then we reached Oracle junction, and taking the road to the right, we started into Llano Toro [Bull's Plain], a cholla forest with cattle roaming. They were decorated with cactus spines all over, even their faces. Our father knew the desert, and when we came to a ranch at Toro Cañada creek, he told us that it was the old post where the stagecoach took relief coming into town. In those days ore from the mining camps was hauled by mule train, and these we saw in town. They stopped for the mules to drink at the city water trough. 

Our destination was reached when we came to Rancho Samaniego. The Cañada del Oro was flowing with a torrent of clear water, very beautiful. Our father was not working Sundays, so he told us about the way he came to Arizona. He crossed from Mexico at Douglas, going through Cochise County to Willcox on to Bowie and on to Safford, San Carlos, and Globe. 

In our camp, we had a large tent to live in. The foreman had a Mexican wife, so he could talk Spanish. They lived in a building made of lumber. Our father told us we did not have to work, so we became again two playmates, but the ranch foreman's wife soon put us to work with her own boys as wok bake'om [walking cowboys], herding the cows to the corral early in the morning for milking. We drank much milk every morning as wok bake'om, and we had dinner with the foreman's family at noon. What we liked very much was the kuahada [cottage cheese]. This is the cheese which has not been put in the molder. This woman made the molders so big that when the cheese came out, it was about the size of a tampaleo kubahi [Pascola drum]. 

Every day after being wok bake'om, we had all day to go places. Going upstream, we found a good swimming hole. This was one pastime for us, and so was walking into the canyon to see the spring water flowing into the main stream. This canyon was deep, the walls on both sides solid rock. In the solid rock bottom, we found little bowls made by hand by the Indians of this river, for the purpose of catching rain water to drink when water was scarce. My father called them tesa akim in Yaqui. 

Truly, we were enjoying ourselves here more than in town. 

The study of Cañada del Oro was of much profit to me. I learned all about ranch life since both my parents had great experience. I learned the Yaqui names of plants and fowls and about taking bees for wild honey. The siba wikit, cliff bird, is a day bird and sings at dawn. Kauruakte'a, a night bird, sings all night. 

The perfume flower plant is the Spanish vinodama [kuka in Yaqui]. You can sense the perfume from a long distance. My father told me how the Indians knew God by this perfume. 

Before the white man, the Yaquis saw God in this creation. They saw him in the firmament's heavenly bodies, his spirit in the perfume of the sewam [flowers]. They would say, "Wame'e bwere chokim ief foring [Go the planets when our earth is suspended], For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed" (Matthew 10:26). The Yaquis, not having any Bible study, many times tell whole chapters of the Gospel, as my own father gave me the definition of the fifth commandment: "Thou shalt not kill; do not be unjust, unkind. Do not take little animals to be a nuisance. They aremade to be with us. Rather be a life saver. If you see a fly in a bucket of water trying to save itself, stick your finger in the water, let it crowd up, and snap it into the air. Here you save one life as precious to God as yours." 

My father also told me of an aged Pascola Dancer who gave, in a fiesta closing sermon, a verse from the seventh chapter of Matthew, "Enter ye in at the strait gate" (Matt. 7:13). In telling the deceitfuless of the broad road he said, "But the road to heaven is a narrow footpath in the ground, narrow for not being much in use, for there be few that find it." The name of this Pascola Dancer was Wahu Chahi [Falcon], and the sermon was given at Mesquitalito in Tucson. 

Another story he told was of Peo, which means Pedro. Peo was a big liar and deceiver all over the eight villages of the Rio Yaqui. One day a priest came riding a mule. He met Peo and asked him to fool him as he had heard. Peo said, "Father, I have to get my book with which I do my tricks to deceive people, but wait here and I'll go get it." The priest said, "Take my mule and go get the book." So Peo took the mule but did not return to the priest again. This man told his lies so realistically, he even fooled himself. He told one person in Guaymas that a whale was lying on the sand at the seashore. The word was passed all over town. He saw the people running to see the whale, and when he was told about it, he started running also to see it.When he arrived where the people were, there was no whale. There was confusion, and people asked who had said there was one. Peo himself was asking the same question. 

All these stories were told in Yaqui by my father in Cañada del Oro. Then the time came for us to go back to town. We had to go home because my mother was pregnant and also because the work was finished. When my father was dismissed, he was given the same green wagon and horses. I was exceedingly sorry to leave, but we said goodbye to our ranch friends: "Adios, hasta la otra visita con el favor de Dios." 

When we pulled out of the canyon, we were again on the Llano Toro. Up here we saw the canal which brought water by force of gravity from up the river so that Llano Toro was made a farmland. They raised wheat and barley. It was wonderful, for the river water was turned up on the hills without a dam. We were on the same route as we came on, passing the cuesta [hill] and the old post. Then we started going around the west end of the Catalina Mountains. The huge mountains seemed to be standing at the same distance, but Tucson became visible. There was no hurry, and my father never used the whip on the horses because they went fast enough at ease until we arrived home. We caused a sensation with the neighbor kids. They asked me if we saw genuine Indians, and we told them that we were the genuine Indians up there.

As printed in Larry Evers, ed. The South Corner of Time. Tucson, Ariz.: The University of Arizona Press, ©1980, p. 224-226.