Desert Dispatch by Richard deRosa
Hiking Offers Temporary Distraction
from the Difficulties of Today
While hiking the last few days, we have seen the first blush of spring blooms, aided by more rain in these parts than we have ever experienced at this time of year. Fairy dusters, lovely pale pink flowers, are popping up everywhere along the trails we hike. Brittlebush, whose bright yellow blooms are a staple of the desert landscape, are also getting into high gear. A birding guide I recently spent a morning with observed that this is the first real winter Tucson has weathered in quite some time. Lucky us. Good thing we packed some woolies, although forgetting any sort of rain gear suitable for hiking was not terribly prescient of us. During our first few days here it rained quite a bit. Neither of us is quite sure why we neglected to pack rain pants and, despite having exactly what we needed back home, we hightailed it to a local outfitter and bought two pair—not too cheap, I might add. Believe it or not, we never took them out of the bag and returned them the next week since the weather took an abrupt turn for the better. We figured, what the heck, save some cash and take our chances. So much for the wisdom of hasty decisions.
Last night it rained buckets, but the sun is out now so hope is on the wing. The good news is that perhaps all this rain will prompt all those wonderful desert wildflowers to put on their glorious parade of color and variety while we are still here. Few sights are more compelling than a hillside blanketed with golden poppies glistening in the desert sun. The forecast is for a bit more rain this week, and then it looks as if warmer, drier weather is right around the corner. We get periodic texts from friends back home alluding to how “nice” the weather has been. Makes one wonder about the rationale for cross-continent treks to escape the cold. For a variety of reasons, we have decided to stick it out at home next year. Sciatica, not an ideal companion on long drives, has something to do with it, but also a bit of homesickness spiced up by a disinclination to worry too damn much about the house and all that could go awry. Although I know that worry is its own worst enemy, knowing in this case helps very little. The prevailing notion is a few short forays to warmer climes; time will tell.
One of the drawbacks of one’s mental life is the inability to completely detach oneself from ancillary issues. Hiking, for me, is a lot of things, among them is getting away from it all. That has been difficult to do lately. I feel a strong, life-long obligation to keep up on “important” news events of the day. I was raised that way, so I guess my mother and my teachers did a good job in that regard. I try to get this stuff out of my head early on; some days it works and on others it takes quite a while. If you watch any newscasts at all—and they have become increasingly hard to stomach—it is rare not to hear about a new or ongoing investigation of some sort. More often than not an analysis is provided by a pundit who invariably describes him or herself as a “former prosecutor.” Seems to be an infinite supply of these guys. One wonders just how many investigations a society can accommodate. The possibilities appear to be endless. We have been described as a litigious society; investigations appear to be its endless cohort. Each network must have a filled-to-the-brim warehouse of “former prosecutors” at the ready to comment on every pending investigation, in-process investigation or potential investigation.
I am not sure what the answer is. For sure, miscreants of all ilks need to be held accountable. It just seems as if we spend an inordinate amount of time policing one another and precious little time obviating the need to do so. For starters, we need to solve the gun problem. And, until we do, tragedies like that at Michigan State will be the rule rather than the exception. That is a real shame. Hikes only alleviate the worry for a short time. There have to be better ways for us to live our lives.