I'm writing the first in a series of books set in my home state of New Mexico. Near my childhood home, the creosote grows so thick we used to build our forts in it, pruning branches to make tunnels that only small creatures could navigate. As an adult, it occurs to me that we weren't the only small creatures out there, but as a kid, I was caught up in my imaginary world. Neither rattlesnake nor scorpion could keep me from spending every day hiking in arroyos, running an obstacle course through the red dirt, where cacti and barbed wire reached out to grab hold of passersby.
I like to spend time in the place I'm writing about as much as possible, but my hometown isn't on the way to anything and, as my family continues to relocate to other places, excuses to visit become more far-fetched. Not that I'd ever let that stop me. The pandemic has made travel less appealing, pitting my wanderlust and need to immerse myself in the setting of my novel against the health and safety of myself and those I love. The desert will have to wait.
When you live in the desert, you seek water. The creek that ran through the canyon near my house became the setting for many things: elementary school field trips, first kisses, and more nefarious purposes that required secrecy and remoteness. Even when the creek was dammed for irrigation further up the canyon, people still visited its bed. In monsoon season, the creek used to flood, forcing vehicles to take the long way around to avoid getting caught up in a flash flood.
Everything is extreme in the desert. People expect the hot days, but they forget about the cold nights. Hikers die every year having allowed the beauty of the scenery to distract from staying hydrated. Picturesque sunsets. Violent thunderstorms. Fields of white gypsum. Wind storms so strong that walls of dirt cross the barren landscape.
It rains in the desert. Big, torrential rains that flood the streets and wreak havoc to homes and businesses. Short-lived sprinkles that leave all desert-dwellers desperate for more. The smell of rain in the desert is distinct. It's something that I never knew to miss until I moved to the green of the Pacific Northwest. Even now, in Colorado, rain is just rain.
A piece of my heart is in the desert still.
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.