Thankful, Behind and Ahead

Last Thanksgiving, we were in Big Cypress National Preserve, in the first part of our long winter tour of Florida.

I feel like we’re a world away this Thanksgiving, here in the desert in Southern California.  But it’s funny: we’re in our same home and cooking and eating our same meal (thanks for putting up with my Tofurky tradition, Tracy), yet so much around us has changed. 

Last year we were just getting the hang of the Everglades; in fact, I think that was the first of our three visits there, and it wasn’t until the third that I started to understand the unique ecosystem there and wanted to stay longer.

Here in the desert we’re vacillating in opinion.  The more I learn about the plants and animals (cholla and coyote!), the more I learn to look closely, and the more I wonder that this place even exists.  The sky reaches all the way around us in constantly changing colors, and the sand is inexorable (probably not the right use of the word, but bear with me). 

Maybe this is just the beginning of my understanding and appreciation, maybe even love, for the desert. Or maybe I miss the ocean and will breathe a huge sigh of relief when we drive out of here, finally. It’s still November, and the season for exploring the limited warm places nearby has just begun.  I don’t know what’s ahead.  

Right now, we can feel the isolation and quiet of the desert sinking into our psyches.  Today on Thanksgiving, we cooked and ate and drank, happy for an excuse to be inside because the wind gusts keep rocking the trailer. Banjo crouched under the table or beside the bed, shaking with her tail tucked. It’s cold and treacherous out there but the same old home inside here.

After we ate too much and FaceTimed with Finn and listened to Alice’s Restaurant, the wind died down, and I went on a hike straight from the trailer to the mountain range, along a wash and beside a canyon.  

Tracy found an animal vertebrate, plus evidence of old, washed-up palm trees. We picked cactus spikes from Banjo’s paws and legs, and we watched the traffic far below on highway 10, truckers and families and weird travelers like us.

I don’t know what this winter will hold.  Lots of sand, for sure.  Maybe we’ll be drawn into the snowbird culture of southern Arizona. Maybe we’ll go into Mexico to get a beach fix. Maybe we’ll invest in a little parking spot so we’ll always have a winter camping pad.  Maybe we’ll thumb our noses at this dry, dusty desert and never come back.  

This seems to be how warm winters start: full of mysterious potential for what’s ahead, along with memories of what we’ve moved ahead of. I keep reminding myself that we’re just going down the road, feeling, well, however we feel.  

4 thoughts to “Thankful, Behind and Ahead”

  1. What a great way to live your life….wondering what is next and being open to all the changes in what you love and how you feel..I know nothing about deserts but just the expanse seems alluring.

    1. I feel like the land spreads along farther in eastern Montana and the Dakotas … here we have mountains all over the place. You can see far, though! And what smart words, of course. 🙂