Saturday, 15 March 2014


Suitcases and piles of clothes are out as we prepare for a short trip to Arizona.  Surgeries have kept me in Uxbridge this year while all the while I pined for the Sonoran Desert.  Packing today, I thought back to our first Arizona trip in 2010.


Defying gravity, our lumbering jet gained altitude leaving below my diminishing view of turquoise sea and frothing surfline.  Caribbean blood in my veins, Jim and I had journeyed south to 'my' Barbados sun, sand and sea for over thirty years.  I could imagine no more desirable escape from our Canadian winters.

Cathy and Dave, dear friends who winter in Arizona, had long attempted to lure Jim and I to their winter home for a visit.  Just come, Cathy insisted. The desert flowers will be in full bloom.  So passionately delivered was her invitation, that we accepted. Thus, in five days we would yet again board a flight - destination Arizona, this time. Leaning my head back on my seat and closing my eyes, I mentally juxtaposed the tropical Barbados beauty falling away behind us with a mental image of monochromatic desert sands and scrubby vegetation, devoid of life.  From snow topped mountain vistas, to lush green rolling farmland, to turquoise shores dotted with palm trees our planet offers a myriad of stunning landscapes, mind boggling in their diversity.  Warm, yahI mused. But why the desert? I just don't get it.

As our rental car exited Phoenix traffic congestion and escaped the golf course sprawl that is Scottsdale, I became uncharacteristically quiet.  You all right? Jim glanced sideways, concerned.  Hmmm! I muttered, truthfully not wishing to be further disturbed.  My eyes, mind and heart were struggling to fully absorb the eerily beautiful panorama unfolding before us. 

Desert blooms displayed their radiant springtime colours. Vibrant yellows, oranges, purples and pinks dotted the dense pastel carpet of bushes hugging the barely visible desert floor.

Scattered across the terrain were small groves of palo verde trees. Trees?

So varied were the different cacti lining our route that I lost count.  

Majestic columnar cacti of every conceivable shape stood erect like giant punctuation marks emphasizing how incorrect were my preconceived notions of a desert wasteland.

Quirky quail displaying their flapper-like fascinators dashed alongside the road as if racing our car.  

A black-tailed jack rabbit with insanely oversized ears darted between patches of undergrowth. 

In search of prey, menacing hawks circled and swooped on the desert thermals. Devoid of life?  Hardly, I thought. Row upon row of stratus clouds streaked north in the azure sky, to ultimately be stalled by the distant range of sage green mountains. Dramatic ancient granite rock formations, monolithic in size,  hauntingly rose from the desert floor.  What giant placed these here? I mused.  I was mesmerized.

Somewhere between Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and the charming little Arizona town of Carefree, the Sonoran Desert yanked at my heart strings.  It was love at first sight with a world that continually now beckons me to return. How unprepared I was for the emotional punch of this hauntingly unique natural landscape. One thing is for sure -  I got it!

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