A Fish Springs legend is lost
Our legends are falling. One of Fish Springs’ original homesteaders, Anita Jones, died on Dec. 13 at the age of 92. She was a spunky and fiercely independent woman who had a most adventuresome life. She even rode all around the Superstition Mountains on a motorcycle at the age of 88.
It was late October in 1963 when she and her husband and seven dogs moved to a little trailer on a section of land that sits along the western foothills of Fish Spring Flat. That first morning they awoke to two-feet of snow. There were no telephones and only a single-track, rutted dirt road. Large herds of wild mustangs grazed on the wide-open range land.
There were only a few hardy families living out here 40 years ago and they helped each other during the difficult times. And there were many of those, including flash floods that washed out the roads and deep snow drifts that completely concealed them. Anita was well known as the “Hat Lady” as she always wore one of her 15, large-brimmed Panama hats while working outside in the garden. At the age of 90 she got to be in the famed Rose Parade wearing a large straw hat that was decorated with flowers and a big pink satin bow tied under her chin. This was the very same hat that Anita wore in the 1933 Rose Parade, when she was a princess for the City of Inglewood.
In 1992, Anita moved from her beloved ranch in Fish Springs to a much smaller piece of land in Apache Junction near her son Donald, but she said her heart would always belong in Fish Springs. Her daughter, Susie MacMillan, said the family plans to scatter her ashes on her Fish Springs “Rancho Querido” next spring. Her legend lives on through her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Our sympathy goes to them all. “Vaya con Dios,” dear Anita.
The magnificent raptors are returning early. Usually we don’t see this many of them before Christmas, but here they come. In the last few weeks we’ve seen eagles in Fish Springs on five occasions, and three of those times the great birds of prey soared above us while we were driving down old Windmill Road. Another beautiful bald eagle was atop a power pole eating a rabbit. The fifth event was in our own yard where a large bald eagle spent at least 15 minutes flying up into the wind, hovering for awhile, and then swooping down toward the heavy sagebrush where a covey of quail was hiding. Isn’t it great to live in God’s country?
We get spoiled living here. I’m always thrilled to see the large bald and golden eagles, hawks and falcons. It’s funny, but just after I wrote the previous sentence (at 2:10 p.m. on Dec. 12); a pair of mature bald eagles flew right over our orchard. Through our south-facing windows, I could see them circling above the old juniper trees. I went out on the deck to check where Clyde, our very big gray and white cat, was hiding. When I opened the glass slider door, Clyde ran into the house and ducked under the Christmas tree. Even though he’s 36 inches long when stretched out on the hearth in front of the wood stove, I still worry that large eagles like this could pick him up and take him away from us.
Residents of Fish Springs lose more cats to coyotes, but I’m afraid an eagle could take our cat. Maybe even our chickens. We have two yard hens that are secured in their coop at night, but they forage around the yard eating grasses and bugs during the day. In the 25 years that we’ve lived in Fish Springs, we’ve only lost one chicken to a coyote.
The golden eagles are all golden brown in color and very large. The mature bald eagle (age 4 or 5 years old) is also very large and may have a wingspan of 70 to 90 inches. They have a pure white head and tail and a huge yellow bill. It’s not yet time for their annual migration here.
When the Valley cows start having their babies, usually in January and February, lots of bald eagles show up to eat the placenta. Easy pickin’s for their dinner.