When A. told me he wanted to move to the desert, I’m pretty sure I laughed in his face.
“Have you seen my skin?” I said, pointing to the Irish white dotted with freckles.
He had spent several years in Pasadena, and had fallen in love with Joshua Tree National Park and this was very, very important to him.
I had just delivered a baby, loved my job and my friends and city-living and really, the desert was a place I never considered. I am drawn to the beach and to the mountains — the desert sounded lonely and inhospitable.
When we visited the first time, last April, I noticed the ravens. In the parking lots, in the streets, hopping around and staring at me with their beady eyes and opening their long beaks and croaking at me. I felt dread, then, and I found the only green swatch of public land in the dusty town and hunched on a park bench to nurse the then 4-month-old C. I called my best friend, exhausted, and pleaded with her to tell me it was going to be OK. And then, on the drive back to LA, I cried.
We’ve been here for five months. And what I’ve noticed about the desert is its hidden beauties. Small white and yellow wildflowers hiding in shrubs (the smallest we’ve ever seen) and hummingbirds zipping by and Joshua trees bending and twisting and blooming and red and green and striped rocks sparkling in the sun.
Lately, we’ve been going on weekly hikes, sometimes more, and have explored Indian Wells Canyon and Short Canyon.
A. said last weekend, “It amazes me that I lived in LA for so long and never considered coming here for hikes.” Neither have the others, it seems, for we have the trails to ourselves and can enjoy the quiet and catch roadrunners sprinting by and birds swooping overhead and flowers ruffling in the wind.
It surprises me how much life is here, even though we’re less than an hour from one of the hottest places on Earth.
And it amazes me I was so narrow-minded to never consider the desert: It’s no coincidence that writers and artists find their muse in its subtle magic.