February 23, 2021
The book is a collection of essays that celebrate the bounty and the significance of desert places, including an extended essay by Nabhan. The celebrated author and ethnobiologist brought friends, colleagues, and advisors together from his more than four decades of study of deserts—to bring their own perspectives. Scientists, artists, desert contemplatives, poets, and writers bring the desert into view and investigate why these places compel us to walk through their sands and beneath their cacti and acacia.
Here’s some of the excerpt shared from Nabhan’s essay:
The horizon was dull edged and hazy from a recent sandstorm. Nevertheless, the sun beamed down on me with what seemed to be a preternatural force.
I stood there alone (I believed), silent enough to hear my own heart beating and the breeze brushing at my sleeves. I could not immediately figure out the patterns of the place—the relationships among weather, substrate, flora, fauna and human influence.
A dust devil, or chachipira, suddenly swept by me and then disappeared into thin air, leaving bushes rustling and empty beer cans rolling around in eddies.
Then my eyes began to tear up in brightness, and I wiped them clean with a sweep of my shirtsleeve. Instantly, I was looking at this world as if I had come to another planet for the very first time.