Kenyan Cowgirl

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Carved wooden masks from the Safari lands of Kenya, a couple of golden dogs, tea time British-style-4pm, cream and sugar; I meet Annelies Kuiper up at her place, in North North Joshua Tree, past dozens of homestead cabins in various stages of decay, and bumpiest roads with names like Windsong, and Saturn. I have been wanting to talk to her since we met at the Copper Mountain Mesa Community breakfast last month, where we briefly spoke about the wild west, secret histories, and a love of space. I learned then that she moved to the US from Kenya when she was 18, and there were Cowgirl parallels between the two open landscapes. She is the president of the Copper Mountain Mesa Community Association, and writes the monthly newletter. Here is a bit from last months news "Ruthie Malton told me of her recent, close encounter with a Rattlesnake. She had been working on her Gazebo and when she left, she closed the heavy door behind her. Later, she returned: only to find adead Mojave Green that had apparently been decapitated by the Gazebo door she had closed earlier: Yikes!"

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Anneleis and I sit for a few hours and quickly get deep into the politics of life out in the swaths of golden sand. There is a deep honesty to this conversation, and we agree that things are not always easy out here. There is this beautiful myth of this high desert, with its vortexes and hiking trails and delicious food and spiritual retreats, but along side these elements are stories of people struggling to make a living, to find a place in this very specific economic reality. The desert is isolating; you can hide for days and not see anyone out in North J Tree, the magical windy sandy bumpy roads are hard to access, and create a boundary between realities. A retreat? Being alone? Being lonely? By choice or because there is no where else to go? Anneleis and I love the honesty and rawness that this lanscape reveals, the almost inability to be a false self here; all conversations have this earnesty, I know the color and depth of many pairs of eyes out here. Anneleis has deep blue eyes, that provide a sense of liquid in the desert. 

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We connect over the need for community spaces, for a connection over shared food. The idea is to build a community garden at the old firehouse next to the Copper Mountain Mesa Community Center, with a greywater system, and a kitchen where food from the garden can be prepared by people in the community for the community. A cycle of life, connective tissue, an oasis of green and health, as well as a way to connect the old and young residents of this area. Anneleis says reciped just come to her, and she loves to make food for people. She dreamed up a delicious pinapple mango jalapeno salsa, which I took several spoonfuls of! Amazing; this is her art!  I want Anneleis to open up a tiny restaurant at the garden!

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 Anneleis is also a writer; this is her semi-autobiographical story of growing up in Kenya. It touches on the human wilderness interface, as well as a romance!