Child of the Desert

posted in: Culture, Nature, Uncategorized | 0

I grew up in the desert and thought it was the most beautiful place on earth. My best friend in high school and I would ditch our afternoon classes senior year to drive to sandstone cliffs, where we’d climb and tan and talk as lizards scuttled near. We’d kick up red dust in dry stream beds as we hiked, mindful of scorpions and rattlesnakes. It seemed perilous and that was part of the attraction.

It was quiet. There was always something soaring. I can’t speak for her, but I was aware how unique it was to grow up in such a place. I felt blessed to be a desert-dweller.

At night, we’d drive up twisty roads to the top of formations hand-hewn by New Deal workers to sit cliffside. Heat lightning flashed in the distance. Had we been able to transport across the valley below, underneath the flashing clouds, we’d find no rain falling. It is common for thunderstorms to roll through dropping no rain. Just angry, gorgeous zings tapping out a code with the light they exhale…read more

Joy to the Joy

posted in: Faith, Nature, Uncategorized | 0

The lady across the street from my childhood home owned an organ. Her name was Joan. We must have been at Joan’s house for a Christmas party because I vaguely recall many people gathering around as she sat on a little bench. Then, her feet pressed long boards which made sounds like a cow.

Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her king!

Joan’s organ wheezed while everyone sang.

Ever since, Joy to the World has stirred up odd associations: Pants suits and root beer. Feet and cows bellowing. Adults you never heard sing, singing…read more

The Dog Who Watches TV

posted in: Culture, Faith | 0

We have a three-year-old male dog. Because he was a rescue from an animal shelter, nobody knows exactly what breeds contributed to his mixed nuttiness. He has a medium build, like a spaniel, but the broad chest of a doberman. He has floppy ears like a beagle, but is fluffy like an Irish setter. 90% of his coat is white with a few black splotches. He was always a typical dog—friendly, goofy, always hungry. His singular goal in life seemed to be catching squirrels. Not only do they invade his slice of the world, I imagined he told himself they taste like furry, tasseled, ambulatory prime rib roasts…read more

The Woman Squatting in the Sky

posted in: Nature | 0

The zookeeper was holding a young alligator like a football. She had his tense body tucked under her arm and held his head in her palm. Her other hand rested on his back. He was perfectly still when she began to share alligator facts with a small crowd that gathered around to learn. She related basic alligator facts, like where they live, their size, what they like to eat. Then, she shared a bit about their skin. Not only is it thick and an excellent defense against predators, alligator coloring provides additional protection.

She asked kids what an alligator might look like from the air. It is darker and mottled, like the top of murky water glinting in the sun or leafy swampy woods. He would be very difficult to see from a bird of prey’s point of view. Likewise, a predator low in the water would look up to a pale underbelly and find it indiscernible against the light of the sky. From the top and from the bottom, an alligator is a master of disguise. But what about when meeting one head on? That’s why it has a strong whipping tail and rows of razor sharp teeth set in a spring-like jaw. The zookeeper concluded her talk and put the alligator back into a long dark green Coleman cooler, creating a perfect scenario where through a series of mishaps, the cooler gets switched with someone’s picnic… read more