Soul of the Desert
Glen Canyon NRA, Arizona
If you drive through, or fly over, this land and see nothing but rock and sand, you have not understood it. Water is the soul of the desert. I have it on me, and in me, as I walk around this small butte-top somewhere south of Lake Powell, the result of damming the Colorado before it courses through the Grand Canyon. Lake Powell is an insult to Glen Canyon, having flooded one of the most unique wildernesses in the country, lost before my generation could enjoy it. It is, however, one of the biggest reservoirs in the nation, supplying a parched Southwest with power and the water to support life as we know it. I have clambered up steep slick rock to a few acres of swirling rock, turrets, bee hives, and depressions, much more intricate than one would think from below. In the footsteps of an array of animals, evident in some sandy patches and reclines along the way, I follow the rock along what seems like a natural spiral upwards, bent on the exploration. The push up to the cap rocks found me on the lip of this depression behind them. A counterclockwise spiral is etched into the bowl--eons of erosion to catch the occasional storm water. Here is the destination of all those tracks. Even the lichens arrayed along the near wall are sustained with moisture grudgingly surrendered by this little pool. The high desert is an awful beauty, hard and often unforgiving, but visually stunning. But even the land knows that water is it's essence. It shapes it, carves it, breaks it apart, and nourishes the plants that hold it together. Whether running through it or sitting in it, it defines it's existence. Otherwise, who would ever see it? Water is the soul of the desert.