Friday, April 22, 2005

The Desert Smells Like Rain

April 22 - Los Cabos, Mexico
in the Sonoran Desert that lies between the Sea of Cortez and the Sierra Madres

Its morning here and the desert smells like rain. Clouds are splattered flat like pancakes against a sky so blue its hard to tell where the sky ends and the sea begins. This smell of rain is the smell of the desert aching for moisture. Its hard to believe a thing can hope so hard that it smells. But that's just what this is-- a hope so fierce that it smells like rain. These flimsy clouds are not cooperating today. Hope disappears on winds made warm by the sun -- now rising heavy from the Sierra Madres.

My morning walk is full of treasures and hidden in these treasures: memories. I found an oyster shell today - marooned in the flotsam and jetsam of desert wash, held hostage by a cactus. Imagine an oyster surviving the pounding surf of this Sea of Cortez before me. It never could. No, my little fossilized treasure bespeaks to a very different time in this land -- a memory held deep inside its bony shell of an inland lake of brackish sea-- where this oyster found refuge in still waters.

Imagine how this place must have looked then. Now, everything has changed -- even the rains have gone. I wonder if these ancient creatures ever had sense of the changes that were to come. Pink granite thrusting violently up and out of a small crack in the earth. This oyster lifted high above its watery home to this final resting place -- wedged between rock and cactus spines. The warm brackish sea returns to the cool Pacific water -- where the rythm of the moon stirs life in different ways. Now the sun tries hard to turn this gift from the sea into something of the desert - bleaching the oyster white and brittle until it becomes like all the other bones scattered across this sacred land -- an homage to place and memories of the past. Did this bone that was once an oyster ever hold a pearl? It seems like this oyster is waiting to be returned to its past. It too probably holds on to the hope that comes from a desert that smells like rain.

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