Secret Desert

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Impressions of the great American deserts

Submitted: November 11, 2011

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Submitted: November 11, 2011






The Secret Desert


It is too unlikely; it is too remote a possibility.  It cannot be that I should feel truly at home, truly connected to the earth, here—just here—on the bare slopes and sharp-edged mesas of the high deserts of the Southwest.  It is absurd.

I have seen the sun send beams far down into the clear, tropical Pacific; I have watched ageless snow plumes streaming from Andean peaks; I have shivered under the Northern Lights, and walked beneath the Midnight Sun; I have smelled the richness of Peruvian rainforests, and felt the warm winds that comb the grasses of the Serengeti. 

But, the desert welcomes me back, always, like an old and well-remembered friend. Worthless land, they call it.  Yet, it is merely the clarity of the morning light, cool and penetrating, the profound stillness, the desiccated and thin and immaculate air—merely these, and the many colors of the evening, made eloquent by the sun shading into deeper and deeper orange, and the yellow, red, and purple blossoms that erupt after rare summer rains, that compose my home. 

The artist regards the desert, and paints.  It is a one-time act, creating a static, unchanging image. Yet the desert takes itself as its subject.  From all perspectives, at every hour of the day, it makes its own paintings, each rendered in exact perspective and unmatchable color.  Paintings of the moment, restless works, they are soon put aside or painted over—and created anew.

Worthless land, they call it.  Yet here are the bones of the earth.  Here we see the shape of our world, the exact points of our sustaining contact with nature.  Here we are instructed to look for the essence, to examine the foundations of life, to see what is necessary—and what is not. 

Hidden from the distant and calculating eye, intricacies folded within complexities—civilizations of the wild—spinning in fathomless time, engines of creation, quietly nourish all that is.

And all that will ever be. 


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