Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cacti and contrasts

The flowers on this cactus have delicate tissue-like petals; intriguing contrast against their prickly stems. Similar to other opposites: bittersweet, sweet sour, icy-hot, baked Alaska, tears and laughter, the good with the bad. Kind of a metaphor for life…

Cacti grow well here, even with freezing temps in the winter. Because, even with the trees, green lawns, and parks, this is still a desert. One look at the foothills, and you see sage and scrub and brown.

Several years ago C and I saw a haunting exhibit of photos taken in a small deserted town in the Namibian desert. In the 1920s, German men involved in diamond mining built fine houses and moved their families there. Now, the houses still stand, but are filled with sand drifts. Blowing sand blasted the paint, wore away the stenciled flowers and designs on the walls, "sandwashed" the furniture, bore holes into the verigated steel that was hammered over the doors and windows—to keep the sand and weather out. Bedrooms, kitchens, dining rooms, hallways filled with waves of sand.

Fortunately, the desert here is not nearly so harsh, and we don’t have blowing sand, although in summer, we often have dry thunderstorms, and the wind blows gray with dust. Yet, a river also runs through town, a river that hosts cottonwoods and willows, places for ducks and geese to nest, and a cool, wet reprieve for people who tube it during summer months.

A desert with a river running through it. But still, a desert.

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You should not see the desert simply as some faraway place of little rain. There are many forms of thirst.
-- William Langewiesche

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You spark some rich questions about the various meanings attached to the word "desert" Can it be a state of mind where within a harsh climate a few determined ideas prosper? Also liked the wandering you allowed your mind to do from parageraph to paragraph, as in a Mosaic trek without clear route markers. This doesn'y imply a lack of focus. It is a gift of generosity to yourself and readers to leave the traceries of wandering to end up where you do, traceries being aq vapor trail intellectual energy leave as energy mutates into various forms.