Category Archives: Philosophy

Our Desert Home

Our Desert Home

Sunrise_6Below is a portion of a conversation currently occurring in our office circles. For someone who struggles almost daily to inject a small bit of beauty into my life, I found the truth, the passion, and the elegance of this to be inspiring.

“The desert is beautiful, Paraíso sin agua.

It’s our home, yeah? What have we done to it? Why?


The way we treat our home, you’d think we hate it. We let wind blow it away.

We run it over, pave it, let the rain cut it to pieces, toss junk in it.

We build things here like we don’t know where we are.


It matters how we do things here. It’s like no place else on earth.

Put a house in the wrong place, the desert will eat it. You will pay.

Put a road in wrong place, it will cost you an incredible amount of money.

It’s not forgiving of our greed, our wayward desires.

Walk into in your street clothes and see if it forgives you.


You’ll hear about lots of emergencies, the economy, aliens, the government,

terrorists; emergencies are how we talk to one another now.


You can’t stop the aliens or the terrorists yourself, the government is out

of control, and what are you going to do about the economy?


There is one thing you can do right now. You can take a shovel and a rake

and do something meaningful in half an hour that will last for lifetimes.

You can help put this place back in order.


You can heal it. You can put the rain and the wind where they belong. You

can treat this place like home, and it will love you for it.


We are the sand whisperers. You are too.


We love this place, we know it well. We care where the rain goes, how the

land moves and why. We’ve put decades into understanding how all this works,

and every day we live for it. It’s who we are. It’s why we are here.


Call for help, we’ll come.”


One more reason to love the place I work.


Rain Ruminations

Rain Ruminations

So I got a little bit of rain last night at my house. It was all the things that rain in the desert are: cooling, aromatic, tempestuous. Rain in the desert is also strengthening, alleviating, and magical. Rain has some effect on us that opens the creative spirit. Of all the things rain in the desert may be, substantial it is not.

I awoke thinking how unbelievable it is to me how many calls I get this time of year from people putting in lawns. I appreciate a small lawn for the kids to play on, or even one to create a comfortable place to entertain. But the calls I get aren’t for these types of lawns; a small lawn doesn’t cover 2500 square feet. I almost always bite my tongue and walk them through what I think they should do to maximize their efforts. But sometimes I lose it. When someone calls and says that they plant a lawn “every year and it always dies”, I lose it. I don’t think I’ve ever called a customer an idiot (out loud). I‘d like to think that I’ve changed a couple of minds through conversation. I’m pretty sure that after talking (what I call) sense, a customer has hung up and called me some harsh words.

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing repetitively while expecting different results. Another definition might well be planting a lawn in the desert without an irrigation system installed. Or planting sod over the shallow thirsty roots of a mulberry tree. Or planting seed but not keeping the dogs or the kids off it for a year. Or sowing seed and forgetting to water it. Or planting a lawn and later blaming everything else for its failure except the fact that THERE ISN’T ENOUGH WATER HERE TO SUSTAIN A LAWN!

I then got to thinking that there are so many environmental variables in this climate, that it surprises me we aren’t all insane. Consider what it takes to grow a tomato… sun, water, soil. That’s pretty much it. In the rest of the world, we provide the tomato, and nature provides the rest. Not here. Here, we have too much sun so we have to shade our tomatoes (the nursery tag says “full sun” because they were grown in Arkansas or California or some such), or there’s not enough sun to ward off the late May freezes ( I used to have neighbor who swore she “had snow here on the fourth of July). There is never enough water, but when it does rain, it comes with such force as to physically damage the plant. Our soils aren’t that bad, but everybody swears it’s the source of ills. I’ve heard “crappy Albuquerque sand”, and “that really compacted sandy dirt.” So they tinker with it, adding all sorts of non-sense until the whole web of micro-biota is sent out of whack. Then the accusations start flying.

But I digress…

My favorite word is petrachor. Look it up. I’m fairly certain it’s a real word.