Wednesday . . . What's next? (besides Thursday, of course.)

One of the things I like about doing shows is watching people interact with my work.  Depending on which pieces they respond to and how they respond, I can sometimes tell a lot about their personalities.  This past show I particularly enjoyed watching people encounter my latest incarnation of "cactus-head lady."  Some people think she's cute or funny, but some people think she's quite personal . . . it's as if she's somehow pricking them from the inside. 

Text:  She may seem a bit prickly but she has a great personality for a cactus and needs very little water. Low Maintenance, 2009

It takes one to know one, of course, so I understand completely.
Where do you think that character came from?

After reading the first post from my Small Works Secrets series, Russ immediately wanted to know what secret number two was.  I told him the name of the essay, but did not reveal the contents, and that made him doubly curious because he said it addresses a question he's wanted to know the answer to for some time.

So you see, some of my secrets must actually be secrets, which is amazing for someone who blabs about everything as constantly as I do.  Essay number two could have been written by cactus-head lady herself I suppose, so that's why I invited her to introduce it to you.

Small Works Secret #2:  

 The Desert.

D.H. Lawrence wrote:  "The moment I saw the brilliant, proud morning shine high up over the deserts of Santa Fe, something stood still in my soul, and I started to attend. . . . In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly, and the old world gave way to a new."

When I first read those words, my own soul stood still for a moment and then said, "of course."  People often ask me about my crazy love of the desert.  About how a vista, barren on the surface, can feed and rejuvenate my soul with beauty.  I crave its company the way some people crave Paris or cigarettes.

My parents moved to the desert some years ago, and my mother began to talk of "thinking desert thoughts."  At the time, we all laughed, dismissing it as one of her eccentricities and thinking it would pass.

But eventually the desert started to pull me close as well, and after some time I realized why:  I felt at home there, plucked from my daily discomfort and dropped in a landscape that understands.  

Of course, this has led me to wonder about my mother --  
about how the secret places the desert has filled for me 
might also exist in her, yet remain hidden.

I love the desert because I am one -- 

thirsty and full of prickles, 
pocked with rocky outcroppings, 
shifty as sand.  

And tricky to get close to, because I don't make anything I do easy.

There's a desert perfection many may see but most don't need.  
You have to feel a connection with the search, I guess, to want to be there.  
You have to work for its kind of beauty. You have to really want it --
like the desert does, bursting with blooms after only a few drops of encouragement.  
Then retreating into itself again.

Few things take root but the ones that do are fierce, 
tenacious in their desire to thrive, or at least survive until the next rain.

Bloom and retreat.  
Bloom and retreat.  

That's a pattern that speaks to my rhythm.  My soul can rest there, because it's where I live.  No matter where my actual home may be.


Judy said...

I'm passing this post along to Bob, who also "thinks desert thoughts."

Karen S said...

A nice prickly post for hump day.

I see that blogger has deleted my comment on the last post, so I will reach back into the depths of my memory and try to reconstruct.

Bob said...

Susan, I too love the desert. Everything there has had to adapt in special ways to survive, from cactus to gila monsters to scorpions. It is a place of great diversity and silence and peace. I find myself enjoying the murals in the telestial room of the temple, showing the deserts, more than any other place there (I know what that says about me). Edward Abbey is always a fun, irreverent read. Enjoyed your post. Bob Cannon

susan m hinckley said...

Well Bob -- what an unexpected pleasure! I'm delighted to know that your desert love extends beyond snakes (mine doesn't extend THAT far), and the universe must be telling me it's time to read some Edward Abbey because it's the third time it has come up in about two weeks. Thanks!

abi said...

Well, we already live in the desert, but apparently we are moving to your favorite desert. Close to it anyways. Please help me channel your love for that particular state.

susan m hinckley said...

Oooh, Abi -- I had not heard that piece of news! I hope it's going to be good (better than you expect, at least) although I am well aware that Clovis is NOT northern New Mexico and you will be having a very different experience than I have on vacation.

I have always found moving with our family to be a positive thing, even when the place or the job weren't our favorite. Good luck to you in your preparations.

Pam said...

Thanks for your visit Susan. Glad you liked the poem. I am a desert person also, but husband can't abide them, or any heat for that matter. "If its hot, dry or flat I don't want to know" he grumbles.Hence in over thirty years of marriage, unless I go on my own, it's usually travels and holidays in cold, wet and mountainous places. Pre-marriage I taught in the environment I loved, but being exhausted from teaching, I was too tired to appreciate it most of the time! I find the desert and Outback of Australia beautiful - frightening but beautiful.(I have visited your magnificent desert places by the way, and you guessed it - pre-marriage!!)

susan m hinckley said...

I would love to see the Australian deserts and outback -- someday I'll take that L-O-N-G flight and do it! Luckily, my husband loves the desert also (although we differ in our opinion of Wyoming!) so we usually find joy in visiting the same kinds of places.

luanne said...

A lot of insights in this one lovely essay. I've been letting it percolate. Now you've got me wondering why I took to the desert so readily 5 years ago, whereas in my youth it held no charm. Hmmm.

And what a glorious photo to close with... you can see forever.

susan m hinckley said...

Thanks, LuAnne -- I have to confess that, growing up in Utah, I complained LONG AND LOUDLY about the ugliness of the desert and how I couldn't wait to get away from it. I guess I wasn't paying attention. Either the desert changed, or I did?

Allie said...

What a fabulous post, as always. Now you've got me thinking about why I love the sea. I'm not fond of desert - too much beach, not enough water.
LOVE the cactus lady.

Norma Soulet (AZArtist) said...

Hi Susan,

Wow with all my unpacking I didn't have time to visit your fun blog. But here I am again. :)
I love Miss Prickly! I used to live in Arizona but now live on the Treasure Coast in Florida since January. I loved Arizona but since my two single daughters live here, we moved to be closer.

susan m hinckley said...

Hi, Norma -- Welcome back! From one sun location to another . . . I must admit I'm a little envious of you! But I spend plenty of time dreaming of sunny climes, so it's okay. And Minnesota has spring, which is one of the things I missed when we lived in Florida. Happy getting-settled!

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