Last summer — and I remember the exact date — I decided life was too short to keep putting off those things my husband and I had been talking about doing for years. Sitting in doctors offices awaiting test results does wonders for putting priorities in order. I thought about all those things we always meant to do but put off for one reason or another — usually because we didn’t think we had time. A plan was put in motion, and we carried it out as soon as I had recovered from surgery.
By early October there was an empty spot in the garage where my beautiful little Lexus sports car had been parked. In its place, came my kickin,’ revvin,’ rockin’ and rollin’ Jeep Wrangler. It wasn’t long after that we took off for our first camping trip. Make that, my first camping trip since I camped in the High Sierras with my Girl Scout troop when I was nine. Tom is an old pro at camping. He and his buddies have camped and river rafted in the most primitive of places for years. I don’t do primitive. I require gourmet food, a bathroom nearby, a tent that can zip out creepy-crawly critters, a night-light for reading, and a cushy bed.
Many of our friends can’t understand our fascination with the desert. They’re quick to point out its shortcomings: Too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter. Harsh, windy, sandy, uncomfortable. I agree about the harsh conditions. But maybe that’s part of its draw — nature is in charge here. We are but sojourners, the most insignificant of visitors. Our only charge? To be committed to Creation care. And to breathe in its beauty — that rare beauty that not everyone sees.
One of the things I like best about the desert is how it constantly changes. I glory in the beauty of the rocky, jagged peaks, refined by centuries of earthquake upheaval and weathering; dunes, wind-rippled and sparkling in the sun; wildflowers with colors made more glorious because of their contrast with the soft hues of the landscape; oases surrounded by century-old palms and tiny blue pupfish in their ponds; streams that bubble and sing, framed by desert willows, their branches providing shade and shelter to the ever-present roadrunners and songbirds. There is no sweeter song than that of desert birds in the spring.
The most breathtaking beauty of all is the desert sunrise. To take photos, I was up by five, bundled from head to toe. I put on the coffee (Starbucks, of course) and waited with my camera for the first light of dawn. As the sun rose I thought back to the dark days of uncertainty in the summer, and with the Psalmist, I was able to say, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Amen!
A happy camper on the old Butterfield Stage Route.