Thursday, May 14, 2009

Southwest Desert

Not being a California native, it took me some time to get used to the vast open landscape. But the desert, despite it’s desolation, was instantly a place in which I felt comfortable and connected.

When I first moved to California over a decade ago, it was to escape the comforts of my native south. I say native south, because I really didn’t reside in any one place for a long enough period of time to ever call myself a native of a particular state. But what I knew, where I grew up, and in large part what formed my world viewpoint was developed throughout the southern states.

The terrain was something I was intimately connected with but I can remember a particular flight, somewhere out west although I can’t remember specifically where, and seeing the snow covered mountains. This wasn't the first time, but it was certainly in a way I had never seen them before from the window seat of some cattle car of an aircraft. I can vividly remember thinking about walking above the clouds on the ridges where no one could touch me or see me. I could be alone in the vastness that I saw from the air if I could just get to those peaks and valleys.

But life, being what it is, has to be lived. And that’s where the desert comes into play for me. There are two places that have had a profound calming affect on me in my lifetime. And they both were exposed to me at particularly difficult times and close to one another in time span. The North Georgia mountains and the Southwestern Desert, two completely different places provide me with a calm ground, places that transport me from wherever uncomfortable place I might be into a place where what matters most becomes visible. They are safe havens, spiritual places providing the grounding that I need.

Diane and I spent a few days out in Borrego this past February and it was a great trip. Just the two of us in the Airstream, alone out in the vastness of the desert. It snowed and prevented us from going to our original destination, but as we always try to do, we made the best of it and headed to another place. When we got into Borrego Springs the rain was going sideways, it was cold and windy and I needed to get set up. I did so in the current weather conditions and once finished headed inside. No sooner had I headed inside then the sun came out, the rain and wind stopped and it became glorious.

Luckily for me the weather returned. I made this image as we drove and the clouds gathered. It’s certainly not a great image, but as some of my favorite images do, it brings to bear wonderful memories and reminds me of what’s important.

1 comment:

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