A cool evening breeze blew against the cottonwood, lush in their late-July foliage. Another summer past, six weeks on the road, in a tent in the dusty high desert, the field season sun-ripened and heavy in my academic basket. I had pulled the seats out of my van and stuffed it with what was left of home. Outside, I sat in my dusty camp chair gnawing at a candy bar for dinner because I couldn’t be bothered to dig out my propane from under the mattress and dresser-drawer-contents and meaningless old knick knacks. Six weeks on the road and six more stretched out ahead, hazy and aimless, before I would land my makeshift motorhome in its resting place for the next year. I wouldn’t be going home.
I was born amongst sun-baked adobe and sandy juniper-shrubland, fascinated by the color of the evening and the song of the seven-year cicada cycle, enamored with the crooked gait of the blue-tongued skink, betrothed to the earth by the ragged-edged crinoid rings presented by alien crustacean bearers frozen in their trotting path along a mountaintop seafloor. I was baptized under the whisper of ponderosa needles in the spring wind, where mountains turned to ancient fallen cities by the gentle insistence of that burbling silver creek. Barefoot, I trod through pine duff and languid, waving meadows to pick crabapples from low branches before the eerie evening song of the sandhill cranes overprinted my mother’s soft voice. Womanhood painted me in the pastels of the desert summer once again, in the scent of palm dates and ocean brine and juniper-sage and purple thunderheads and layer after layer of silt – colors where my soiled and shredded boots have walked.
My home is in the red tire ruts carved through the mesa-tops, in the dusty wind and fat raindrops, in the warbling coyote’s cry, in the golden hush upon the high alpine. This place I cherish, this place I am driven to preserve, this blue marble, this place of song and color and light.