Maintaining a blog is a lot of work. But it also a labor of love, and sometimes, the juice to write and compose pieces is simply not there, and that’s been the case for me the last few months. But I have been keeping a list of topics I’d like to write about, and am now feeling the urge to launch back into it. There is also some interesting travel ahead, so there will be plenty of fodder for my musings. Last month, we visited our desert home in Palm Springs, and I got out and about. Here’s what I got to thinking about:
Palm Springs- Where The Grass is
Always Sometimes Greener
Growing up in the northeast US, one grew accustomed to the landscape as a somewhat benign and static presence, all tangles of thicket and trees, growing, receding, friendly and green. The desert is another matter. Raw and unforgiving, particularly in this area, it nonetheless can be made to flourish. But it requires constant vigilance, lest it return to its native state. The following is a photo essay of the various stages of desert landscape in the urban to rural environment.
Here is the classic desert of dreams, crisp modern architecture, luxurious swimming pools, golf- all set on a carpet of verdant green grass. With sprinklers whirring half a dozen times a day, this carpet is a wonder in this inhospitable place, allowing the transplanted Yankee to lay on the grass of his youth whilst star-gazing, or perhaps head to the club to work on his short game.
A Delicate Balance
A slightly less taxing approach is to simply set the building gently on the desert floor, and allow all manner of rocks , sand, or desert fauna to co-exist with one’s pristeen modern dwelling. But no reason one still can’t heartily embrace outdoor living, a narrow lap pool or well placed deck can often thread between the most stationary of massive rocks.
No, I’m not referring to the guy ahead of you who can’t make up his mind at the date shake stand (but he WAS a jerk, wasn’t he?). I’m talking about the desert itself. The desert is always there, ready to strike, lurking under the mailbox,
or ready to obliterate a road:
Just over the fence from our home, with its exquisite desert landscaping, the desert sits ready to strike, this plot one more carcass of the recession, a parcel of land all plumbed and plotted, but nowhere to go. That is, until the mighty winds blow, then the pleasant rustle of palms on our side of the fence can become a dust storm on the other side.
or bulwarks against the ultimate desert irony, the danger of the flash flood:
And farther out , one can bear witness to a different kind of desert creep, in this case the toxic mash-up that is the extraordinary Salton Sea- here the desert strives to evaporate this accidental lake and return the saline basin to its prior briny aridity.
Way Off The Main Road- Armadillos In The Heat
Well away from the madding crowds of the desert cities, one can see this all flipped around. There is no war with the desert, the desert has, in effect, won. Here , in the places “the interstate missed”, we find hearty hangers-on, leathery lizards living in beat up old desert dwellings, trailers, converted busses, adapting to the climate, and in some ways, living in more harmony with the desert than any of the examples above, more like armadillos.
Though this does seem to predict a higher degree of eccentricity, or insanity, depending on your view.
Of course, sometime it just doesn’t work out. And one of the beauties of a place with endless space , cheaper land, and mobile living , is you can go. The desert is littered with salt-encrusted monuments to broken dreams, be it the roadside service station:
The brand new savings bank branch for the blossoming town:
The roadside attraction:
Or , well, Santa’s land:
Return To Dust
In time, these relics will fall over, and become no more than a bump on the desert floor. For the distant view, say from the car window or the train seat, the desert will put forth its finest dunes or fauna for inspection and appreciation. But beneath this surface, underneath that first layer of sand , the seasoned desert aficionado will know there’s probably more to the story.