Dispatches from the edge? What edge?

My home lies at the edge of the Colorado Plateau, above the basin and range country of southern Arizona, but below the true highlands.  This narrow band of in-between is considered its own physiographic province: the so-called Transition Zone.  It is a place where you will find cacti growing in the shadows of pine trees, and a place where there is acacia, all thorns and flowers, at the base of mountains capped by fragrant spruce.  In other words, it is a place of overlap.

A remnant of the Colorado Plateau’s ancient extent, today Juniper Mesa is an isolated island in the heart of the Transition Zone.

This transition zone is not unique to central Arizona.  Nor is it unique to discussions of biogeography.  A transition zone exists where any two landscapes meet, whether they are physical, cultural, or conceptual.  Boundaries are not usually hard and fast, except, perhaps, in the minds of those who build and obey them.  They are a rhetorical convenience, one that I often employ when clarity so requires, but I find it important to remind myself that boundaries represent a false division.  It is dangerous to assume any perimeter might be so secure as to prevent all trespass, and even more dangerous to hope that it should.

Geographically and otherwise, borderlands fascinate me.  I suppose it is their dynamism that I find so seductive.  The fact that they are constantly in flux; infinitely changeable.  As a confluence, they represent the possibility of exchange and symbiosis.  They represent chance.

In where I live and in how I interact with the world, I prefer to stick to the edges, as far from center as possible.  Purity, after all, is fairly well boring.  It is at the edges, at the skin, that one thing bleeds over and touches another.  With this intimate contact, and perhaps with some good fortune as well, something novel might emerge from the mix.


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