Sonoran Desert, Arizona, United States

March 20, 2016

Home

This week, I'm back in the desert in the Western United States.

It's the sort of place that people here mostly describe as “empty,” talking about the the land, foothills, and swathes of sage in terms of potential rather than reality.

A place where there isn't anything. And they're right.

There's not one sound louder than an SUV, barreling down the road. Not one living thing taller than a cookie-cutter house. Not one noise more grating than the teeth of a heavy machinery digger, carving into bedrock.

But things change, if you stop and listen.

You'll hear the wrens early in the morning. See the flowers atop towering Saguaro cactus open and close with the heat. Hear coyotes late into the night.

This place, you see, is a big part of what home means to me. I've written before about how home is just a story - and that's true. But right now, here, I'm reminded the things that are so familiar they feel like my own skin.

The way the paloverdes and ocotillos rustle in the wind. The sharp orange of a cactus-top bloom.

Of the sunsets, the purple mountains and red-then-orange-then-pink sky, every night.

Of the bighorn elk, the mountain lions, and the mexican wolves - just 50 left now, out in the wild.

Of hummingbirds, everpresent and chattering, vulture circling, hawks diving, and roadrunners darting with grace through the landscape.

Of the open road, desert stretched as far as you can imagine to every side, foot down, mountains rising, passing, fading.

But most of all, the stars. Countless. Night cracked open and raining. The smell of dry air and closed blooms curling around moonlight.

I'm still not sure about home, but this is the place that's more me than anywhere. It's what I'm made of, down to dusty dry bones. And no matter where I go in the world, this desert, the Sonoran, comes with me.

I wonder, where is - what is - home for you? What comes with you, no matter where you go?

Have a wonderful week,

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I read all week wasn't easy. It's a story that comes from near where I was living in Rwanda. It's where our cell phones came from.

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