For over twenty years I visited Tucson without knowing scientists consider it part of the Sky Island Region. 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.
The Sky Island Region defines 70,000 square miles stretching from southern Arizona to northern Mexico. Named because there are fifty-five mountain ranges towering over 6,500 feet and jutting above the desert floor like islands on the ocean, the region provides a stark contrast in terrain, temperature, and water. From the hot, arid desert up through what scientists call thornscrub (a wet desert), to the semi-desert grasslands, oak woodlands, and eventually, pine forests found on the higher elevations, the diversity creates homes for a vast array of plants and wildlife. More species of life can be found in this region than anywhere in the country.
It is no wonder I pause every couple of feet to pull the lens cap off my camera.
Like the seeds of the Brittlebush scattered across the parched sand, the many faces of the Sky Island Region sprout roots within the dry crevices of my heart. Life struggling, persevering, blossoming, dying. All images of the desert. All stories of Nature. With every click of the shutter, I find myself drawn to this place called Tucson, a place a part of me will forever call “home.”
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