Desert Messenger

July 7, 2010

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JULY 7, 2010 ���.D�����M��������.��� P��� 19 Musings of a Happy Wanderer • In Love With the Desert- An East Coast Girl’s Perspective By Jedidiah Free See Photo on Page 12 I grew up near the lush green moun- tains of the Appalachians- Shenan- doah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I had never been further west than the Ozarks and Ouchitas in Arkansas. Though this mountain range lies east to west as opposed to north and south, and has its own unique characteristics, these mountains are still very similar to the Appalachians. The density of these mountains… the air, the foliage, the colors, the sounds is magnifi cent. The mist on the sum- mits, the wildfl owers dripping with dew, the waterfalls. The way each mountain overlaps with the next, and the next, until you can’t tell where one ends and the next begins, and there is no separating the mountain from the mountain range. The peaks roll gently into each other, fading into lighter and lighter shades of green-gray, as far as the eye can see. This was what I knew mountains to be. East coast meadows and lowlands are lush as well. There are a million shades of green, intense colors, and a heaviness in the air. With rain comes mud and subtle changes in the plants and animals. Flowers close up, birds and animals seek shelter. But for the most part, life goes on as normal. In the mountains, rain brings heavy mist and clouds that envelope the peaks like a thick blanket. The forest can grow silent except for the sound of the rain dripping off the leaves onto the forest fl oor. It is a comforting, yet almost deafening silence. My fi rst trip out west was several years ago. I had an idea in my mind of what desert mountains were going to be like, a sort of dry, dusty, lifeless version of my beloved Appalachians. Until that point, any reference to mountains in- stantly fi lled my mind with waterfalls, intense shades of green, and brilliant reds and golds of the fall colors. I fully expected to miss the lush greenness, and moist shadiness of the Appala- chians. For my fi rst taste of the desert, I found myself in the Chihuahuan desert near El Paso, TX. Until this point I had not really associated mountains with des- erts. Somehow in my mind they just didn’t seem to go together, but there, in the Chihuahuan, the abruptness of the rocks rising up out of the des- ert fl oor worked in perfect harmony with the vast openness of the desert. I walked right up to the base of the mountain where it pushed up from be- neath the sea of gravel and sand. How intriguing, to be able to walk right up to the base of a mountain. It looked like someone had dumped a great big pile of rocks onto the desert. I climbed to the top. Not really much need for a trail. The sparse vegetation made navigation elementary. Looking out from the top, with an unobstructed view, I could see other mountains in the distance, jutting up abruptly and separated from each other by expanses of desert. I could clearly see where each one began and ended. One mountain, two mountains, three. I was intrigued. A storm came. Not like on the east coast where it is a slow, prolonged rain, and the moisture hangs in the air for days. I watched the swift moving storm race across the sky. Then, as quickly as it came, it was gone. The intense sun was back, and with it came a rainbow, touching the desert fl oor in the distance. It ap- peared as though I could walk right to it. I wondered if there was a pot of gold there. The rain went quickly, but the ca- cophony of life that exploded after the rain remained for the rest of the day. Animals and birds celebrated. Cactuses and fl owers suddenly sprang into bloom. Rocks showed off their best regalia after the rain washed away their dusty coating. The entire desert came alive. Gone were the thoughts of missing the lushness of the east coast. Here the beauty was in the subtleties of the colors and the harshness of the landscape. The desert was no longer a lifeless, dry, and dusty entity to me. It was both peaceful yet vibrant, subtle yet intense. I was in love. My love of the desert has grown more intense after spending the winter here in the Sonoran desert in Quartzsite. I have seen the desert go from fall, to winter, to spring, and with it my un- derstanding and appreciation of it has changed. I have watched as once dry washes suddenly overfl owed with un- stoppable power. I have been awed by the lightning shows dancing over the mountains. I have been entertained by ground squirrels and mountain quail scurrying to and fro, and frustrated trying to photograph the never-still roadrunner. My endurance, resolve, and camping skills have been tested by the extremes of cold, heat, and wind. I have marveled at the ability of the desert to be both subtle and intense at the same time. A small bit of rain turns the muted tones of rock and plant into an explosion of deep and vibrant hues. As winter turns to spring, wildfl owers appear almost overnight in the stark, rocky terrain, wrapping the mountains in blankets of color. And most of all, I have been amazed by desert sunsets. East coast mountains fade quietly into the night, as the sun slips behind them. Desert mountains turn brilliant oranges and purples, glowing as if in a rivalry with the sky, loudly proclaim- ing their majesty before darkness en- velopes them. And so, here I am, an east coast girl, in love with the desert. I am in South Dakota for the summer, in the beauti- ful pine forests and rolling plains of the Black Hills. Needle-like granite spires push up from the feet of stately, moss- covered Ponderosa Pine. Meandering streams wind through virgin prairie as buffalo and pronghorn graze. It is gor- geous here. Intriguing in its own right. And, still, I long for the day I can see the desert again. I don’t know if my time in Quartzsite’s corner of the Sonoran was part of a great desert scheme to woo me. But if it was, it worked. for WED. AUG. 4th issue is Desert Messenger DEADLINE WED. JULY 28 Send your ads, stories, letters to the editor, events and news Everyone Welcome! Come and worship God in a Biblical manner with us at the Quartzsite Church of Christ. Located at 76 S. Emelia St. CELEBRATE OUR NEW LOCATION! (turn west just past Senior Center on Cowell, left on Emelia) Sunday Morning Worship Service, 10:00 a.m. Sunday Evening Group Bible Discussion, 6:00 p.m. Wed. Women’s Bible Study, 10:00 a.m. We are thrilled to have our own buildings and lot now, having met in the Senior Center for years! Now all we are missing is YOU! As the Holy Spirit directed it be written in the Bible in Romans 16:16... “The Churches of Christ salute you.”

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