This is on the very short list of places I love best. It's meditative and magical. I can get all tangled up in myself over why things (the book) aren't working, and didn't work yesterday, and won't ever work, and an hour of hiking up here just unties all the knots.
Part of it is that Joshua Tree is so other-worldly. The kind of terrain you see below is just over every hill you climb.
One of the things I admire about the desert is that it's really live-or-die. There are no tremulous, drooping leaves, no chlorophyll cries for help. Plants and animals grab their spot, dig in, and defend it. It's merciless in a way that's kind of comforting. If these things are so tough, I ask myself, how can I be such a wimp? Thinking up a story? That's a problem? Are you kidding me? Just take your precious bottle of water with you, you wuss, and go write the damn thing.
But even the desert softens a little bit in spring. Here's a plant I saw for the first time yesterday--a whole new species to me.
It's about six inches high, all by itself except for that ancient little scrub of Juniper up there, and the brightest thing within a square mile. Up close, it's got kind of a Persian intricacy to it--one of the prettiest little succulents I've ever seen. Back in the bad old days of chemically enhanced desert rambling, I probably would have spent an hour just looking at it. And I would have benefited from the experience.
But those days are past, so I just sat with it for a few minutes, hiked back to my car, and drove to town to write a sort-of love scene.
Joshua Tree worked its magic again.
Tim -- Sundays