Monday, December 26, 2005

A brief memory...

In the back seat of an outfitter’s rickety old truck bouncing over rutted dirt roads, returning to Moab after five days on the Green River. We’ve climbed out of the river’s slash through sandstone and are now in the barren slickrock desert -- sandstone outcroppings and silt infillings accented with junipers, punctuated with dead bunch grasses, and marked with the odd castellations of cryptobiotic soils that develop in the few places in the landscape where silt can rest, but where torrent-made streams won't purge.

Today, the sky is clouded, and the lightest of drizzles is falling.

Deserts are peculiar places. Without water, all the water-normal things that happen every moment everywhere else just get saved up until water comes. Sonoran deserts explode into bloom when the rains come. Slickrock deserts, when the first drizzles of rain start to fall, explode into scent. Juniper and pinon form the canvas, a thousand unlabelled scents swirl into moving pictures.

I unroll the window, lean my face into the wind, and gasp it into my mind, greedy, terrified of losing whatever it is that five days in the canyons has given.

Exhaling is painful.