Sometimes I get the feeling a lot of people think the Southwest is nothing but a dry desert. Everything a different shade of brown, cracks on the floor, and tumbleweeds rolling back and forth across long empty highways.
To me, that is beautiful. Sure, a summer afternoon at 3:00 p.m. can be too much, too hot. Still, it’s beautiful.
When you look up in the sky, it’s all blue. A kind of blue that’s hard to describe in one word. The clouds are there, but they are too far away to provide shade. The trees are green this time of year. The grass is green too. It’s not always this way. Those things are beautiful too.
If you live in certain parts of Arizona, Nevada, or New Mexico, you know that the newspaper will say something about record-breaking heat. A kind of heat that feels like just the reporter says it will feel. Like it will break something.
And yet, the lizards are out doing their pushups. The occasional snake you see is slithering on the side of trails during your evening walks. The cacti have flowers. Your dog knows it’s too hot too, but he can’t miss his daily walk. All that makes living in these parts beautiful.
There are more colors in the desert than in the concrete jungles of the urban northeast. More than different hues of grays and rust. During the day, there are blues up above, until the sunsets when there are purples, oranges, and reds. The weeds are not just a weak kind of green. They come in all shapes and adornments. Flowers that make them feel like works of art. The bees like them too.
The people here are just as colorful. Families that descend from pioneers. Homesteaders who have been here for generations. Newcomers that make their way here every summer. They are escaping something and this is the place they choose to be. The Southwest is an escape for all of us. Permanent and temporary.
Teachers and farmers. Those work-to-the-bone folks that open cafes and small general stores. They all make the Southwest what people think it isn’t. Full of life. An adventure. Ordinary and at the same time not-so-ordinary.