It takes a lot of staring to appreciate the desert. I was born and raised there, and it wasn’t until college and lots of car trips through the desert did I realize how beautiful it is. It’s what I get for living in the biggest city in New Mexico.
It was one of those instances of “you don’t know what you had until you don’t have it anymore”. I didn’t love the desert until I was out of it. You see, Utah isn’t really desert, not compared to New Mexico. It’s only semi-arid. There are a lot more trees and much more snow in Utah. People here complain often about being in a drought, and they may be, but if New Mexico doesn’t get enough rain during their wet season, then all the campgrounds and hiking trails shut down because we don’t want another National Disaster, or so the President announced.
Still, as I rode to and from Cedar City where I was going to school, I stared out the window. At first, it just looks brown. My hubbin still thinks it’s brown and flat. But as you continue to look out into the distance, you see the mountains out there are different shades of blue. The sun hits those mountains to enhance all their different shadows and specific outlines.
Not only are there mountains, but the mesas and the rolling land also contribute to the texture. The rock contrasts with the sea of sagebrush, and the rock looks gently pink or red. And some of those mesas and mounts are purple. After all that staring, you realize that it’s beautiful. And you find tears on your cheeks and a pain in your throat. It’s as enchanting as the trees and the lakes, but in a much more subtle tone.
Maybe that’s why the roads are so straight in New Mexico. So no one gets sick and the drivers can find the beauty, too. That subtleness in the quiet, still layers takes searching for. And the enchantment isn’t some chuffed-off-the-head word that a stranger and publicist just made up because the state needed a nickname. Someone found the truth by staring.