Desert Living, Desert Reflections
The bright yellow cactus flowers in my photo are a pale representation of the sun-splashed blossoms surrounded by thorns glistening on the mesa. Still, the image of the flowers is something I can share with you, and so I do.
The many colors, shapes and sizes of time-carved detritus rustling and crunching beneath my boots cannot be heard on the page. Still, I want to tell you the sounds of shifting rock fragments are a kind of momentary music to me.
My occasional and decidedly ungraceful glissade while negotiating steep slopes is somewhat comical, causing my laughter to ripple through the otherwise mostly silent afternoon.
Along with the cascading rock, the calls and songs of a few birds are the only other sounds I hear.
Fortunately, the couple of times the seat of my jeans hit the ground there weren’t any cactus underneath me.
A heady mix of heated earth and the fragrances of pine, sage and wild grasses scent the air. Unobstructed vistas beckon, with a kind of irresistible invitation to not only look and look, but they command a deep, expansive visioning as well. It’s as if looking provides views, while gazing gives inspiration.
These sensations cannot be put into words, but still I want to tell you that the feelings are compelling and vast and deliciously unsettling. There is a profound sense of solitude and communion.
The desert, as metaphor as well as a place, has long been seen and experienced as a unique and special geography for spiritual awakening, journey and formation. It can be actual and physical, or a state of mind and heart where one sojourns and seeks a deep, genuine, personal encounter with the Holy.
To be able to live in the desert is, for me, the opportunity to live my dream. To be able to live on land that was previously completely undeveloped and likely uninhabited is beyond my dreams.
This property is located within two land grants and borders tribal lands. Indians have walked this land and it has been in a Land Grant family for generations, being passed down through inheritance.
To be able to call this property home is more than an honor and a profound privilege. It feels like a sacred trust.
One day I found what I thought might be part of an arrowhead. It is a piece of shiny black obsidian with chiseled marks on both sides. A man from the natural history museum told me upon examination that it was a chip from a larger piece being formed, most likely a tomahawk. He said that if I looked in the area where I’d found it that I would surely find more.
He also said that I am very fortunate to be living on this land. Smiling, my heart filled with gratitude, I agreed with him.
Every place has its own beauty, sometimes subtle, sometimes spectacular. There is the bounty of the fertile valleys and plains, the vast, rousing, ever-changing power of the oceans, the colorfully lush and verdant climes, and the towering, majestic forests. I like to visit tropical places, and love living in an arid one.
As I hike the mesa, traverse down into the meadow, and over toward the rock outcroppings, I wonder about all of the rich history this land holds. I walk the sandy arroyo bottom; and then cross over to another, rocky one, and hike up the raised rock formations made smooth by centuries of rushing water that mark a point of convergence.
With each step I take on this acreage, I hold the knowing that untold stories are teeming all around me, above me and beneath my feet. I watch and listen and ask; and pray for discernment.
A pair of Ravens frequently accompanies me on my hikes. Recently I walked with a young coyote as she was gathering her dinner at dusk. I enjoy observing lizards and rabbits as they go about their activities.
There is so much to see, to appreciate, to learn. Living here, a keen interest in geology and astronomy, flora and fauna has been awakened. My beloved National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Southwestern States is a constant companion, and I need now to add to my collection of Field Guides.
This is a place to which I was both drawn and driven. This is a place where wonder whirs freely about, and joy rushes through me like wind through the Junipers. Desert living is a harsh, different kind of wonderful. And the desert as metaphor, as place, and for me as home, holds many challenges, lessons, surprises and blessings for us all.
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