While waking transects and looking for rare plants in the dusty Mojave Desert of 2013, I had much time to consider vastness, appropriateness and tenacity. Notably, it was hot, dry, and teetering on spiritual (which isn’t always a good thing when rattlesnakes abound).
The desert is nothing if it is not tenacious. It is an acerbic beast even in it’s kindest moments. Blowing sand, regular temperatures in the hundreds from April through October (in the sun that is). Humbling, and even bending or distorting the idea of life just a bit, since the desert’s signature is withering brown plant skeletons, dry playas and spines. Dessication, opportunity and impermanence are its soul. It is a tribute to both eternal things and the ephemeral. Within that sea, there are pauses of vibrance and life.
I’ve been working in the desert for some 5 seasons doing botanical surveys. On a professional level, I love being on these mega-surveys that help collect important botanical and biological information about desert environments that are almost unexplored, untouched by human footsteps. I can’t share all of what I’ve seen, but truly, the desert is a living, thriving place.
There is no doubt in my mind that desert biology is an acquired taste, and lets just say we have some fine vintages in Southern California.
Up close and personal with the desert: Desert Horned Lizard.