Jesse Hardin: Prolific Author
Local author and unusual character Jesse “Wolf” Hardin lives on a USFWS wildlife sanctuary seven “jeep sinking” river crossings from the nearest pavement, surrounded by millions of acres of national forest in a remote canyon of the Catron County’s Saliz mountains. Over the past decades Jesse has written articles about wildlife, regional history, rural customs, food and antique firearms for magazines as diverse as Gray’s Journal, Permaculture Activist, Gun Digest and Mother Earth News.
The latest exciting book by Hardin has just been released, entertainingly titled Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle: Wild West Sentiment, Backwoods Humor, & Outlaw Wisdom For a World Gone Astray. Its 107 chapters were written about this very region and its people, including pieces that have appeared since the early 1980s in every newspaper that ever came out of the county, including the Catron Courier (ed. a previous ver- sion of this paper) and Glenwood Gazette, the now defunct Firestarter and Messenger. Pancho’s Motorcyle presents tales of local characters from both recent times and the historic past, the story of our county’s natural history, and thoughtful essays on a wide range of subjects that are all inspired by a life close to the land in the “still-Wild West” of Southwest New Mexico. Hardin talks about such things as freedom and heritage, sense of place and learning from the natural world, the foolishness of the economic system and the importance of sustainable business and barter, his grandmother’s treadle sewing machine and the need to mend our families and communities, seeing through the eyes of a child, the wildcrafting of edible foods and medicines, the wisdom of cats, the significance of the cowboy hat, the need for heroes, and the cou-
rageous living of our dreams in the frontiers of our future. Not to mention Pancho Villa, seen on the book cover admiring an Indian brand motorcycle some years after raiding Southern New Mexico with a force carrying old time Winchesters and traditional bows and arrows!
Catron County and the Southwest are the features of and inspiration for many of Hardin’s other books, including Old Guns & Whispering Ghosts which profiles local natives and pioneers from the area as well as the stories of firearms in the historic West, and his acclaimed novel of adventure, healing, and romance The Medicine Bear, set in the early 1900s. Even his books for herbalists, such as The Plant Healer’s Path and The Healing Terrain, use the lessons of this land to make their points about natural healing and following our hearts... but he doesn’t just write for those of us who get to live here.
“On one hand, there is no place quite like this region, a unique and enchanting mix of cultures and traditions, mountains and deserts, undeveloped lands and historic communities, rugged terrain and an almost mystical or spiritual feel. On the other hand, this area is emblematic of rural America in general, from the love of nature and wide open spaces to the determination to think outside the box and do things our own ways.”
Jesse moved here as a young man on a quest in 1979, beginning in the ghost town of Mogollon, and then the following year starting to make payments on the sanctuary he still lives on. He had barely enough income to survive for the first ten years. The only means he had for getting from his home to Jake’s Grocery and the post office was by walking or riding a horse or burro, teaching him a bit of what it was like living in the Southwest from the 1830’s until well after the turn of the century. And he saw no contradiction between his passions for land conservation or sustainability and his celebration of Old West themes or rural attitudes. “In a world of increasing artificiality, dishonesty and government control, wild places and free people set the example and tone for a more vibrant and empowered way of living.”
Hardin is currently completely his 14th book, Lawmen of The Old West Unmasked, while assisting his copublisher Kiva Rose in producing the most influential magazine about the use of herbs in natural healing: Plant Healer Magazine, “with a mission of reducing our dependence on federal health care and often harmful pharmaceuticals.” Herbalists, he tells us, “have a few things in common with the finest of frontier men and women, in keeping traditions alive, in listening to the land, and in taking risks to try and do good.”
Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle can be found at select Catron County businesses, and can be ordered from his website OldWestScribe.com, along with The Medicine Bear or Old Guns & Whispering Ghosts.
For information on Plant Healer Magazine and books about herbs and herbalism, go to PlantHealer.org. Jesse Hardin can be reached at Scribe@OldWestScribe.com.