On the Road Adventures

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quartzsite - Jan 20

I am going to tell you something that some people might find really weird. I suffer from a well seated illusion that the world talks to me. The pasture might radiate contentment or a longing for water; the ocean thrums with a massive satisfaction in its greatness; a mountain might say to me, “I’m magnificent – don’t you agree?” And I agree and we have a lovely conversation. Some places are exuberant, with figurative arms outflung, bursting with life and joy and wholeness that makes my heart sing in chorus with them.

The desert isn’t like that. The desert doesn’t “fling.” It’s quiet and contained and silent, almost miserly in its conversation. Each plant has its own space around it and it is death to the interloper who tries to share that plant’s bit of space. The mountains are bare, broken bones that wear no softening cover of vegetation. When I say, “You are magnificent” there is no response. The desert does not care to be in conversation with me. It’s too busy hoarding itself, thinking deep desert thoughts that have no concern for a brief transient human.

Don’t mistake me. I admire the desert greatly. I love its palette of colors: greys and creams, siennas and umbers, with the only contrasting color the dusty, muted yellow-greens of the plants. I love the sky that is so vast that you can see day after tomorrow on the horizon. I adore the night sky where the Milky Way is an almost solid white band across the sky and Mars stands out like a red beacon in the north-east. I like the silences and the sparseness and I am awed at how persistent life is in the face of the harshness. A mesquite bush may not be hospitable but, by God, it’s there, stubbornly growing in the face of all opposition. A saguaro might be half eaten by, what? Whatever eats saguaros. But the other half is still going strong.

So I say to the desert, “You are magnificent.” Even if the desert just sits there in silence. And perhaps I hear the faintest whisper coming back.


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