Whereas many areas of western New York are currently enjoying an adequate amount of summer rain, I know that so much of our country, particularly in the western regions, is in serious drought exacerbated by some unbelievably hot temperatures… For the Southwest, the current onset of monsoon season brings the hope that rain may fall and bring relief to the parched and often beautiful landscapes of the American desert.
I had to think of my essay called “Desert Rainbows” that forms the fifth chapter of my 2020 book Wings Over Water. The essay is based on a Rivertop Rambles post of the same name (“Desert Rainbows”) published in August 2013. That post, for some reason or another, has become the most visited site, by far, of all my 600-plus mini-essays with accompanying photographs. I guess its popularity has something to do with the notion that a desert can have trout fishing, plus a beauty apprehended by an open heart and mind.
Again, here’s the opening to “Desert Rainbows,” from the book, along with an attachment of hope for rain and cooling temperatures delivered to those lovely places that could use it. Photographs are recent and are sourced in a wetter clime…
… The night rain of New Mexico spreads across the sand and binds the billions of particles for a light impression of foot and claw. The kit fox emerges, and the jack rabbit, and the great horned owl. The darkling beetle wakes with the dawn. The sun calls a black-throated sparrow into song. The bleached lizard runs from an approaching foot that makes an imprint on the sand.
Leaves of cottonwood track the surface of the ground from a wind-tossed limb. The primrose petals radiate; the jack rabbit and coyote run. Water binds the gypsum desert of White Sands National Monument (recently re-designated as a national park) only inches from the surface.
White Sands encompasses 275 square miles of desert. The Sands form an oasis in a chalk dry Chihuahua Desert bowl. Sure, it’s a long way to the trout streams that I love to haunt, but wait a minute… As water binds the particles of gypsum, it urges every dune crest into motion, blowing on the wind toward the places we know and love.
And as a wilderness moves, the white dunes invite: movies have been filmed here; Pink Floyd played a concert on the 90’s sand. I try to imagine night-walking on the dunes with a full moon overhead, the starkness and the hazard now soft and beautiful… Could I find a rivertop in such a vast and waterless realm? That’s crazy! Then again, “There’s water at the bottom of the ocean,” as the Talking Heads declared in song. So maybe there’s a river, a trout stream even, flowing through adjacent sands….