56. Desertly


The obvious choice for blogging would be the Olympics, which are in full swing now. The earth’s best athletes gather to fight gravity’s resistance and each other. I try not to be so obvious. Plus, I’m visiting my daughter in Tucson, Arizona this week and sweating my brains  out. Siestas are nonnegotiable, but I am postponing one in order to blog. However, it’s not working. Even typing in long transitions like “however” seems exhausting. This intense sunlit experience cooks the neurons, making napping a necessary daily event while the outside temps reach 100* plus.  And she is pregnant, which makes for a whole new world experience.

This morning at the swanky resort where we stayed there was a sunrise service by a native Navaho man who blessed our relations. He stood in full regalia and played his Indian flute. Then we burned sage and did the blessing ritual. It was simple and touching as we looked out across a desert scene while a hummingbird floated behind this regal man. Yesterday as we checked in this resort, a roadrunner scampered across the road. It was a cool surprise since our only roadrunner sighting before then was the cartoon character, a favorite still. Not much meat on a roadrunner, which makes you wonder how desperate a coyote must be to pursue them.

Everywhere around Tucson are the Sajuaro cactuses, standing like friendly desert alien sentries. It’s tempting to put a sombrero and a blanket around these sturdy creatures and play Mr. Potato Head with them. Anthropomorphic urges rise. There is an aching beauty in this harsh climate, a beauty that you cannot hug or embrace physically or you’ll wind up with needles in your face. Nature beckons but don’t touch the merchandise. You’ll be sorry. Lizards, birds, snakes, javalinas, coyotes– not snuggly critters.  Death is not hard to come by in this environment.

I’ve never thought of myself as an East Coaster, but clearly I am with all my hubris and humidity. Here it’s stripped down, bare, dry, and brittle. Nothing rots due to the rapid dehydration rate. Sweat constantly drips out, keeping folks lean and close to the bone.  So in my arid musings I need to make a point, don’t I? I mean, that’s what I think bloggers owe their readers. What precious nugget can I impart to you? Maybe last night’s stargazing event makes a fitting claim. Way out in the scrub beyond the Sajuaro National Park we  watched a full moon rise around 9:00 p.m. As the guide showed us deep space golden giant and blue dwarf stars, he explained how many thousand light years distant these lights were from us. It took minutes for my mind to absorb the scale of distance… “light travels at 187,000 miles per second…for years…and then hits your retina…then your brain…and slowly you unwind it all into language, a poor translation.”

How small and insignificant can one man feel while sweating in 92* heat at 10:30 p.m. in a moonlit desertscape? Like a grain of sand that light illumines as it speeds by on its way to deep space.  Dark space is vaster where the light is less. The harder I look, the more I see… and the less I know. Galaxies beyond galaxies, and universes within universes. Life is stirring in my daughter’s belly while death is chasing down a rabbit in the shadowy ravine beyond us.

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