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Threat of Desert Storms

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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 Langwiesche

On my first night, the wind whipped wildly outside the room. I listened to it moaning, how it rattled what scant vegetation remained on the trees. At one point, sheets of rain pounded on the roof, soothing and unsettling all at once. I prayed for sun – I needed that. It was one of the main points of traveling all this way.

Here comes the sun… here comes the sun…

When I rose, the sky was a dramatic tableaux of everything at once. On one side of the mountains, a line of dark clouds threatened to approach, on another a sliver of sunlight peered through the gray. I’ve always appreciated the flair for the dramatic that Mother Nature sometimes chooses to exhibit, and this morning she unleashed all her varying moods. (Coming from the Northeast, where the span of 24 hours can result in a swing of 50 degrees and 2 feet of snow, I’m accustomed to such shifts, but it’s a thrill to see one part of the sky bright blue and the other a foreboding dark gray at once.) The desert was filled with such extremes.

I was aware of the dangers of the desert as much as I was aware of its beauty. This was no easy landscape. Survival depended on toughness; often it depended on attacking before one was attacked. Warnings were rampant – warnings of snakes, of poisonous creatures, of flooding and of heat – everything went to an extreme here. I was properly cautious, but mostly intrigued.

The barbed paddles of a prickly pear stand gave ample visual warning to would-be predators. Careless wanderers were more often their victims. Seeing these plants in their natural habitat was a lifelong dream realized. In one of the most extreme environments, these are the ones that survived. These are the ones that last. Above all else, these are the ones that can cope. There is a lesson I need to learn here. A sandy path leads ahead…

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