Tuesday, November 6, 2007

When it Started ...



That's me. Years ago. On a trip to Joshua Tree -- then a National Monument. My old boots were new. My friend during grad school had insisted that I go to Joshua Tree and learn something about the desert. She was from the desert and liked it, and I was going to like it too, or at least learn something about it.

So off we went. Me -- younger -- in love, and quite naive about the desert. She was in her prime, and in her element. Miles of desert fell before our willing feet -- it was gloriously hot. Sweat and dust and bottles of water and a Wagoneer. Wild, sweaty lovemaking and the sound of a cactus wren. The smog sweeping in from Los Angeles, and her chiding me for having never been there, really. We chased phainopepla and the elusive desert tortoise and talked of Edward Abbey and Terry Tempest Williams, and post modernism. We showered in the noon sun under a hand pump in the Cottonwood Springs campground. Our first resemblence of running water in many days. Ocotillo, and Cholla, and Oases.

Fighter jets flew below us as we looked down from the higher altitudes of Joshua Tree.

She's responsible, actually. It's her fault. There's an old Polaroid of her in a scrapbook, dressed up to go for a beer and a burger in town -- standing in that desert in a white dress, the wind blowing, entangling her. A dichotomy of the desert's beauty. The Mohave. White skirts and cactus. Austere, lean and sharp. Gorgeous. She started all this for me. Leading me to the well. This desire to be in the desert. The pleasure at its insanity. A chameleon scrambling across the hot desert sand, invisible.

I'll be retuning to the desert for a bit. Contemplating a permanent return. I am growing tired of smog and potholes and fog and cold, and crowded 4 star restaurants, rock concerts and the opera. Go figure. It would be nice to see the coyotes in the firelight, or just hear them squeal with delight as the moon approaches.

3 comments:

Jonah said...

Ah, yes… there’s always a girl. Lovely memory.

the old bag said...

Well-painted images. Always a love.

Which desert this time around?

shawnkielty said...

I think the Sonoran desert is the real draw these days ... and -- yes, there's always a girl.