Joshua Tree National Park has been beckoning me for decades and when I heard that my friend and fellow painter, Theresa Passarello was going I couldn't resist meeting her there. Theresa picked me up at LAX and we headed straight for the desert. Once we were released from the endless traffic of LA we entered a landscape of rolling hills and spinning windmills with snow capped mountains in the distance. My blood was pumping. The thrill of a new vista is my favourite drug.
We stopped in Palm Springs to stretch our legs and drink a margarita in the sunshine. We decided to find our digs before dark as it was down a maze of sandy roads that felt like gopher trails in the desert. It was cold as the sun set but the light was golden and we were nestled into our cabin on a ranch between two mountains for the next few days. The silence in the desert is like darkness speaking, all encompassing and very present.
The next day we rose before the sun and headed into a sky of fire colours. The strangely shaped silhouettes of Joshua Trees felt oddly like people.
Joshua Trees are actually not trees but succulents of the Yucca Family however they are referred to as trees of the desert. They are very slow growing and dependent on the yucca moth for pollination. They are highly sensitive to climate change and therefore on an endangered list. These trees are magnificent beings, unlike anything I have ever encountered before and very specific to this dessert landscape. I am so grateful that the National Park exists to protect and preserve these great tree beings.
I was reading Terry Tempest Williams, The Hour of the Land during my dessert travels and about the National Parks she has much to say but this stood out for me,
"I see our national parks as our ongoing struggle as a diverse people to create circles of reverence in a time of collective cynicism where we are wary of being moved anything but our own clever perspective."