Saturday, April 21, 2012

Desert Paths

Desert paths are marked by rocks. Here, the path is passing through barren sand—a parking lot actually. But up ahead as it climbs up into the hills there will be cactus, shrubs and fragile desert flowers that need protection. Staying on the marked path is important.

Phrynosoma Modestum
 A Roundtail Horned Lizard 
Thanks to Sondra for identification
I took a walk today. This long stretch of marked path is new since last fall and I followed it for several miles. It winds along the Rio Grande and then climbs above it. I saw a few interesting things. Here is one of them. Don't ask me its name but it sure knows how to blend into the rocky soil.

The most curious thing I saw I did not photograph. A not-so-rare bare-bellied retired lawyer in sun glasses looking at the water.

He had his own take on things. "Somewhere else I'd have to pay $50 for this view. Here it's free. All I have to do is come here. And there is nobody else around."

It's Saturday and the lawyer  has come to town from his home to the south "to drink and dance." He looks out at the water and then seems to look inward.

"It's my destiny," he says, "and I've always known it, one day to be killed by a jealous husband. Why fight destiny?"

There is melancholy about this shirtless barrister, almost a sadness as though something was lost or taken from him a long time ago and he can't remember what it was or how to get it back.

"Those years when I was practicing law," he says. "I was in prison."

Yet being out of prison is no picnic either.

"I like to be alone most of the time," he says. "Then I get these moods in which I have to get out and see people."

I bid good-bye and continue along the path and up into the dusty hills.

We've had good spring rains and the cactus are doing what cactus are supposed to do &mdash suck it in. On the hills above the river, flowers bloom. Lizards scurry. And a hundred tiny footprints in the sand mark the places where daytime and nighttime battles raged, where desert hawks zoomed in search of desert mice.

On the way back I pass a fisherman. "Any luck?" I ask. "Nope," he says. "It's hot for this time of the year, and the river is low."

When I pass the parking lot the lawyer has gone—back at his motel no doubt putting on fresh cloths and heading to the Groovy Gritz, where there's a band tonight. And who knows, maybe some action.


  1. What a nice posting again. I think the desert makes people 'look inward'. There can be a certain melancholy in the desert. The desert sings about eternity. Whatever happens, there will always be a desert. And the desert is protactive of the living creatures in it. Many have spikes or are poisenous. They say: Don't touch me or else....

    I hope we will meet some day. Maybe in a desert setting?

    1. As always, thank you, Peter. I would forward to any meeting. Cheers. John

  2. OH cool what you have there is a roundtail horned lizard! Phrynosoma modestum~

  3. Hi John,
    Is there an earlier blog about how you got started? I liked the part about the lawyer in prison. The existential nature of prison has always intigued me...nothing but you and the four walls. Some would say that we are all doing time, just in a bigger and happier prison.
    All best, Ted

    1. Hi Chef Ted,

      Thank you for your comment and great observation. How I got started is a rather long story, some of it told in the begining of the blog when my good friend and great companion, Miranda, died last summer. We wanted to do a trip together and document it on line, as we had the summer before. But cancer cut her down, so I have been pretty much doing it solo since.

      Hope this patches a bit of it together for you.



    2. Yes, it is what we call a horned "toad", I believe. When I was a kid in central Texas, we used to see them all the time. I haven't seen one in ages! I don't know if this NM one is a different type, but I think that they are dying out. (I'm no expert.) You were lucky to see one.