Boise, ID. City of Trees and businessmen on bicycles. Land of locavore-cuisine, hiking trails, and what seems like a hundred different parks. Place where people’s driveways double as a place to park their kayaks. Here I am. And, by and large, I’m happy to be here.
At the same time, I’m homesick. Not just for Arizona, but for all the places I’ve loved before. As I drove north through the lunar and Martian landscapes that lie between my previous desert home and this new one, I found myself thinking of those I’ve left behind in this move and the half-dozen moves before it. People in the deep South and the mountains of Appalachia. People in the green valleys of New England and up and down that far coast. People in the arid lands of Chile. Other places, too.
The sky was heavy and purple-black the day I left Prescott. It fit my brooding mood. I cried when the rain fell against my windshield and lifted notes of juniper and iron-rich earth in through the open window. That smell alone was enough to overwhelm me.
There was light at the edge of the sky, though, where the storm clouds ended. I noticed this, too. And I suppose it was just as fitting; that the dark and the light should come together, as a pair, never one persisting, but instead slipping back into the other.
The mile-markers came and went over the course of two-and-a-half days. 1,200 of them, almost. That space is still a little hard to swallow. But the drive was beautiful. This country is vast and diverse. I had the generous and patient company of my family. And I have done this enough to trust that once I get to know the seasons of this new place, once I orient myself to its topography and ecology, and once I walk its trails, I’ll settle in deep.
All of those things help to lessen the weight of this transition. There are other things that helped along the way, as well. The mountain air of Flagstaff. Kind Navajo women in Gap, AZ. The canyons, spires, and cross-hatched dunes of Zion National Park. Bighorn sheep that appeared around a bend in the road, just a few feet from my open window. Long, green rivers. Open country. Open sky.
Take a look: