Earth, Sun, and Rocks
Natalia J. Garland
Suburban sprawl in the Desert Southwest has had a peculiar impact
on my personal environment. I live in a rural area which is
growing rapidly as other people also discover the beauty and
simplicity of desert life. What used to be a quaint haven for
retirees and a few artist types, is beginning to look and feel
like the worst California suburb: unplanned development with no
regard for the natural surroundings.
Houses are being
built over vast desert acres of ravines, washes, cactus,
greasewood shrubs, mesquite trees, and rocks. Bulldozers have
plowed up and piled up thousands of rocks as ground is cleared for
houses and roads. New home owners will never know what used to
lie beneath the leveled earth on which they now plant their grass
and palm trees. Rocks, an expression of natural desert beauty and
ruggedness, will never again face the sun's brilliance. The huge
piles will be ground into gravel and sold.
Some of these rocks,
however, have been transported over the miles to my yard. I lifted
each one: rocks as large as I could pick up and put in the car
trunk; rocks worn round and smooth by weather, and rocks rendered
jagged and sharp by bulldozers; rocks the color of volcanic bronze,
burnt orange, glistening white, mottled cream, dusty rose, sea
green, crusty gold, and soft grays; rocks that spoke to my soul
and continue to nourish my daily comings and goings.
Before the new
roads were graded and paved, the rocks had been inaccessible.
It was too dangerous for anybody to hike so far into the desert.
Before suburbia exploded, only the snakes, coyotes, and rabbits
knew how to survive the heat and lack of water. The rocks could
have been there for millions of years. Nobody disturbed them.
When a new suburb
is developed, the roads have to be built first. This made it
possible for me to drive to heretofore remote points and rescue
rocks. Such development, from my experience, is extinguishing the
rural lifestyle. But, as though to compensate, the development
process enabled me to claim and transfer a part of the desert to
my personal ecosystem.
Of course, I had to
leave thousands of rocks behind. I selected, from my perspective,
the most beautiful and those with useful shapes. They serve as
borders and as decoration. Lizards have made their home within
the shady protection of overlapping rocks. I have triumphed over
the bulldozers with my own visual conception of color and design.
I have attempted to live in harmony with nature's life-forms.
Someday, if suburban
sprawl overwhelms my private space, I might consider either going
back to a city lifestyle or deeper into the wilderness. But what
would I do with all my rocks? I cannot leave them. In my
imagination I see myself renting a big moving-truck just for the
rocks, lifting each rock again, and driving onward. Naturally.
Until we meet