Jane Miller lives across the valley from the gorgeous Santa Catalina Mountains that ring the eastern landscape outside Tucson, Arizona. We sit in her great room and I sip sparkling water as though I were a fancier man than I actually am.
Jane's a walker, and she tells me a little bit about hiking the trails in and around this hillside house. I ask about the local wildlife (spiders, snakes, scorpions, etc.) and she admits that she's skittish about the snakes, and sees a variety of these desert creatures regularly enough. (Because I'm hopeless, I spend the next thirty minutes scanning the floor for an approaching attack. It is winter, however, and I'm unlikely to get stung, bitten, or poked. But since I'm such a delicate flower, it's good to be careful.)
She admits to a somewhat nomadic life, and tells me a bit about her love of the sea, coasts, and particularly Humboldt County in northern California. Aside from the poetry talk, she confesses a brief involvement with painting - while in California - and I ask a bit about that. On the trip, I've been fascinated by the avocations of poets and academics. I ask Jane about the connection of painting and poetry and happily she tells me that - for her - they connected in very real and obvious ways.
We also talk a bit about the ongoing project, and I'm always glad to get advice. I'm always worried that the personal journey is too far removed from the interviews with poets, but Jane suggests that there are likely stronger connections between those twin studies than I'm currently seeing.
As always, far too quickly it's over. I pack my stuff and we say goodbye.
I load up the rental car (because Winnie and my wife are 100 miles north with some family while I do this quick 2 day trip to the Tucson area), and drink in the endless and bathing sunlight. It's been nearly 20 years since I left Arizona, and winter here is spectacular. My mind recalls my first day in the area in the late 70s, an August scorcher of 114 degrees. But by the time this area heats up again, I'll be a long ways from here.