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high desert

November 7, 2009

strangely my mind has been in the high desert lately.. not a beautiful picturesque desert like you might see in Arizona, but bleak Northern desert where apparently no creature lives. it’s just the road going through the middle of uncountable miles of pale yellow sage brush and the clumsy looking hills appearing as though they are reluctant to be there.. always off in the distance, not deigning to draw nearer the road, wanting to be left alone in their solitude..

for some reason, this no longer seems near so ugly to me, this wasteland .. driving through it, don’t even see any hawks or vultures.. I am guessing there is nothing for them to feed on.

This is what much of Nevada looks like, this is what Southern Idaho looks like.. the desert stretches East into Montana aways, and West into Oregon and parts of Washington.

I read that there was high desert in Washington state, out near Spokane, and found this hard to believe.. but I believe it now..

When I flew home from outside Boise several years ago – just a ride to the  airport, never saw the city, I could not believe what I observed during the flight, peering down. I thought I was hovering over..not the Earth, but Mars.. red dirt as far as I could view.. occasionally.. only occasionally a river to let me know I was indeed over a mostly blue planet.. almost no signs of civilization.. it was a surreal experience, and for some reason, I enjoyed it.

The barren spaces appeal to me, even if the barren spaces are in empty shopping malls, a college campus long after the students and staff have left for the evening and it is dark, the town streets late at night, although those are not as barren as I would like them to be anymore. I like being in places when others are not there, places that are usually busy, full of people, places I do not wish to go to when they are crowded.

I like the gym at night on weekends.. most people with other things to do on Friday and Saturday nights.. good for them, I have the place almost entirely to myself.

Some would find these places lonely.. at these barren times, but I find them peaceful.

My memories of traveling through the high desert have not been fond until these past couple days.

I spend most of my time in my room, in a busy city.. and let my mind roam into those wind blown mostly empty places I have passed through on my few journeys up North, to where there are some habitations, but with the desert on all sides.. the wind blows the ever-present sage brush, and the mountains sleep, and almost nothing stirs..

The air is clean in these places, and can be cold, the wind strong, but what wind brings is good for the lungs, and one can breathe deep as long as one does not mind the chill.  I am missing that air, and the sage and the hills and the utter quiet.

I read in the bible once that unclean spirits, having been cast out of those they were inhabiting, travel through barren places, and have nowhere to rest. As I road through the Nevada desert and on into the Southern part of Idaho, I wondered if this was what the biblical author had in mind.. but felt that there was no life..not even any unclean spirits on the air. I figure they are mostly congregated much further to the South of where I was.. they are down in Las Vegas.. Sin City.. where else would they be?

Perhaps the wasteland, the perfect place for nuclear testing because after the testing was done, the landscaped was probably almost indistinguishable from how it had been before the blast.. perhaps this is what purgatory looks like, where the souls who are not damned, but no where near ready for heaven wander in silence, and do not experience much loneliness after awhile, since they have become resigned to their fate.. and heaven, it is a fading illusion in their minds, and time loses its meaning, and they skulk around the sage brush, and look up to the hills which are always in the distance, which they never climb.. what would there be to see, they wonder.

That is where my mind is tonight, the high desert. I wonder if, when I sleep, I will dream I am there, and hear the sound of the wind blowing down from the hills and over the sage brush.

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