In the autumn of 2012, I lost my dad, Rubin’s dad, and Lady, my parents’ dog and my best dog-friend ever. For the next two years, while mother remained in Arizona, I spent many months with her, often accompanied by Rubin.
For over twenty years I had visited my parents in Tucson without knowing scientists consider it part of the Sky Island Region, 70,000 square miles where mountains tower over 6,500 feet and jut above the desert floor like “islands on the ocean.” I saw a desert valley of windswept browns and muted greens; a skyline defined by ragged, seemingly impregnable mountains. I did not consider it a place I might find nourishment, an environment in which I might heal.
I was wrong.
While Mother rested and Rubin played pool with the pool sharks of Sun City Vistoso, I hiked the trails of the Rincon, Santa Catalina and Santa Rita Mountains. I explored the Tucson Mountains west of the city, not tall enough to technically be labeled one of the Sky Islands, but a familiar backdrop to the blushing skies of sunset. While I preferred to photograph the exuberance of spring, I could not ignore the charred skeleton of the saguaro, the feathered remains of the coyotes’ feast, the lifeless rodent dangling from the beak of a roadrunner.
Life is not always the strawberry pink of the hedgehog petals.
Like the seeds of the brittlebush scattered across the parched sand, the lessons of the desert sprouted roots within the dry crevices of my heart. Life struggling, persevering, blossoming, dying. I was part of that desert story. With each click of the camera, I began to heal. And when mother joined me on the trails, nature showered us with its finest treasures.
Next week: “The Day the Desert Rejoices” in prose and photographs
From briefcase to pen, paper and camera, one woman's journey to influence
how we care for the environment, our seniors, each other.
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The Ideal Gift
Tiny Treasures, a collection of wildflower photographs and poetic prose, available by contacting me.
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