“This is the desert after all,” I thought to myself as Grange and I sped along Highway 191 North towards Salt Lake City. He and I were heading back after his stint at home during the COVID-19 shutdown, and to get there we were traversing Utah south to north. My in-class period has long since expired, but Grange’s is just blossoming, so these days I am cheerleader, driver, financial backer, and emotional supporter; in other words, dad.
It has been dry in this part of the country, painfully dry. Parched is a term that comes to mind. Vegetation, always in short supply along this route, is almost unknown. Winter is, however, coming. Snow will blanket the middle band of Utah before long. At that point, however, the road was smooth, dry and well-maintained, so we sailed through deep canyons and broad valleys with ease. “Like a bobsled on ice,” I thought to myself.
As we crested the summit of a large, undulating hill, off in the distance I could see a swatch of shimmering gold. “Ah ha, a cottonwood,” I advised myself. In fact, it was a grove of cottonwoods, an entire family of settlers that had found a seep or underground aquifer. Somehow, they or their ancestors had discovered the scarce resources necessary to thrive in this barren land and there they stood, majestic.
Glancing over at Grange resting peacefully in the passenger seat next to me, I felt pleased my own seedlings had sprouted and nourished themselves in this trying climate. They have now transplanted themselves into different environments, extending their feelers, and engrafting themselves onto another world. Their roots will, however, be forever grounded in the stark, natural beauty of the desert Southwest.