Desert Woman

I looked across a desert terrain of cactus, bushes and trees, wishing I knew their names. It would make me less of a stranger.

With so much open space, I expected to see some signs of life, as does the hawk circling overhead. Neither of us are catching sight of any movement, yet both of us know it’s there.

What if I’d been raised a desert child like my brother and sisters? Who would I have become if I hadn’t become a child of adoption in the land of lakes and snow drifts? How much of who we are is hard-wired? I can only guess, based on the similarities and differences between my birth family and I.

I walked in Sabino Canyon, trying to work off a Thanksgiving dinner of free-range turkey, gluten-free dressing and pumpkin pie. The full-toxin version of these foods was also available. Oh, I hope some members of my family aren’t reading this. Where are those smiley, I’m-just-kidding faces when you need them? Oh wait! Here’s one!

I hadn’t seen some of my desert family for a couple years, and there wasn’t enough time to catch up on everyone’s stories. Even after a Thanksgiving dinner, I leave hungry for more, but I managed to gleen a good dose of laughter and hugs that will hopefully tide me over until next time.

Rather than being tortuous, my “what if?” and “who would I have been” questions produce a wealth of story lines. These imaginings play across my eyes while I stand in a dry creek bed, caught by the play of light on tufts of grass stuffed between pebbles.

I look, wide-eyed and laughing, at the sight of cactus jutting impossibly out of solid rock walls. That’s the part I love about the desert – how there is life and growth in impossible and unexpected places.

This post also appears on Vision and Verb where a collaborative group of like-minded women from all over the world share their passion for photography and the written word.

I will post additional photos this week from my Arizona trip (at least that’s the plan) as I get them edited and I think of something clever to say. If you smell something burning, that’s my brain thinking… 

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  1. Your last photo is beyond marvelous. I do like rocks, and I like cactus, and it’s beginning to occur to me that I might like Arizona. I’ve been in New Mexico a good bit, lived in California and Utah, but have missed Arizona completely.

    The question of identity is an interesting one even for those of us who grew up in stable birth homes. My father’s side was Swedish – my grandparents came here from “the old country” in the early 1900s. My mother’s side is Irish, with a smidgen of English tossed in. My joke used to be that, as I’ve aged, the Irish has been taking over the Swede in me. Now, I don’t think it’s much of a joke!

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