Saturday, August 3, 2019

Reading About The Desert

Cactus Country: The American Wilderness by Edward Abbey

Hear the gravel crunch under your boots as you walk along the dusty trail.  

Stop for a moment. 

Slip your pack off your back and set it at your feet; feel the wind cool against your shirt, damp with sweat.  

Take a long pull from your canteen. Even though it is tepid at best, taste the water soothing your parched throat as you drink, careful not to spill even a drop.

Look up at the ancient saguaro standing tall against the cloudless blue sky. 

Breathe deep, filling your nose and lungs with the hot, dry and fragrant air of the Sonoran Desert.  

What's this? You have neither the opportunity nor, to be perfectly honest, the inclination to go on a desert trek? Well then, sit down with this book because, while reading the lively text and enjoying the splendid and thoroughly 70s-esque photography, you will be transported. 

* * * * *

We pulled into the rest area, a typical oasis of green along the busy interstate. My two younger daughters - who were maybe six and three years old  at the time - hopped from the car and raced up to the restrooms as the rest of us were still piling out of the van. Suddenly the wind was violently whipping around me, staggering my steps. Each breath inflated my lungs with almost unbearably hot, dry air, as though I was breathing fire. The sun pounded ferociously on my head with an intensity that made me weak. I felt myself dehydrating on the spot. 

And while all of this is to be expected on a pit stop in the Sonoran Desert, I was not prepared for the emotional assault. Danger swept around us on all sides like a pack of hungry wolves, and I fought the urge to gather up  my little ones, who were dancing up the sidewalk ahead of me, and rush them to cover. Instead, I watched them testing themselves against the wild winds that blew their little bodies forcibly this way and that. They laughed as they played, oblivious to nature's menace, while I trembled with a renewed respect for the immense power of the desert. 

* * * * *

Read more about what I've been reading:

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