By: Jean Ames


When I was a little girl I lived in Tucson, Arizona on Palm Road.  It was only one block long between two major streets.  On the southwest corner was a vacant lot lined with palm trees and creosote bushes.  When it rained, we could smell the pungent odor of creosote,  a most refreshing aroma during an afternoon of very hot weather.  On the north side was an alley that came between our house and the lot.  A sand path ran across the lot from east to west.


One day my friend Trudy, who lived across the street, said, ďLetís bake a potato in the lot!Ē  That sounded like fun.  So I volunteered to get a pan and Trudy rounded up a large brown potato.  We walked down the sandy path looking for a secluded secret place and found just the right spot.  There were plenty of sticks all over the ground.  Trudy took over the job of arranging the firewood.  I carefully balanced the pot on top of the pile.  It was too heavy and the sticks fell apart.  We tried again and this time it was OK.  We put the potato in the pan.  ďOh, no!  We donít have any matches!Ē  I exclaimed.  Trudy volunteered to go across the street to get some matches from her house.  As she was approaching her home, she noticed an extra fine stick in the yard next door.  She grabbed it and thatís when she heard rattle sounds at the other end.  Trudy had picked' up a dangerous baby rattlesnake.  Guess how fast she made it to her front door!


When Trudy returned we proceeded with our plan.  The sticks began to burn with the pan on top.  Trudy added the potato as we sat down to watch.  After a while we noticed that the potato turned black.  This was not what we expected.  Trudy threw the potato away.  Somehow we got the fire out.  I sneaked the pan back into our kitchen.  I am sure my mother suspected something when she saw the burnt pan, however, she never said anything.


We never tried to bake another potato, and all that was left of our adventure was a small pile of ashes in our secret hiding place.  Today we realize how lucky we were that we didnít start a real fire in that big dry lot!