The Desert’s Beautiful Face.

“I am the things that are, and those that are to be, and those that have been. No one ever lifted my skirts: the fruit which I bore was the sun.”

Proclus. On Plato’s Timaeus.

(Inscription in the temple of Neith, at Sais, Egypt.) 

Photo opportunities forever present themselves in the desert, and I enjoy wandering our property on the look-out for beauty. The monsoon rains and accompanying cloudy skies magically enhance what is already a wild, breathtaking landscape. I love how the desert continually renews herself, shifting and changing like a kaleidoscope. 

This is where God lives — or at least, where she vacations.

The temperature is slowly going down, which makes all the chores that come with animal rescue work, horses and dogs much more bearable.

This has been the hottest summer I can remember in Arizona. 

While the rains are a reason for celebration because they bring the temperatures down, the clouds that refuse to comply perpetuate a humidity we’re unused to in this arid climate.

Piglet, our eight-year old terrier mix, is terrified of thunder. When the storms roll in most afternoons, Piggy becomes so clingy and frantic that I end up carrying him around with me while I do laundry or fill the horses’ water buckets.

On the other hand, Estrella Bella, our two-year old terrier-Italian Greyhound mix, saved from the pound (she was to be euthanized the next morning, with her terrier’s reverse-sneeze having been misdiagnosed as a sign of respiratory illness) couldn’t care less.

One of the best parts of monsoon season, and one of the most beautiful, are the rainbows.

With Autumn now approaching, (and along with it, meteor shower season, which started with the Perseids in August), dusk arrives earlier and earlier, and so do the Colorado River toads, as we found out last weekend. Even the moon can’t wait to take her place in the soon-to-be star-studded skies.


Life can be tough for the best of us, full of twists and turns, fears and worries. Find inspiration wherever you can find it, and don’t forget to look right outside your window for evidence of the bigger picture. 

“Tis sweet to be awakened by the lark,

Or lull’d by falling waters; sweet the hum

Of bees, the voice of girls, the song of birds,

The lisp of children, and their earliest words.”

Don Juan

Lord Byron

(photos by Emily Murdoch)


10 Responses

  1. Em,

    As usual, I find you balanced and seeing the positive in everything. I’ve come here to find your post on the pizza-loving agent, because I want to quote you in my ebook on getting published.

    You inspire me.

  2. Awwwwwwww, thank you, Steph. But maybe I have an advantage, in a way — having been sick for most of my life, it’s easier to be grateful, now.

    I’ve always found it interesting how many good, wonderful things grow from hardship and even the worst of times.

    Hooray for your ebook, I hope it’s going well! I’m excited to be able to help, and excited to be a tiny part of it. I can’t wait to read it!


  3. These journals of life on a (the) ranch are fascinating.

  4. Em,

    That’s so true, about amazing things coming from hardship. It’s good, but also a shame that that’s often what it takes to make us realize how good we have it.

    Thanks for letting me use your quote! I suspect you might already have a handle on this, though, or know what to do. What I need to do for you is help you tweak your letter! It’s a matter of pulling together the emails you sent. I’m sorry it’s taking me so long. We were on a roll there, until my stupid computer quit and that deadline became so pressing!

  5. Steph,

    I used to wonder about that too, re: hardship. But, in truth, what really gets done or motivates us when times are easy, happy and carefree? Takes both sides (dark and light) to make us whole, although the harder times can bring us to our knees.

    I’m so grateful for your help, when you can. I received three more form rejections this week … it’ll be a relief to try a new letter and hopefully turn the tide.


  6. Isn’t it fascinating, H? So much going on, so much to learn.

    I swear this place, and the dogs and horses, are my sanity on this crazy publishing journey. I’m on the unpaved, pot-holed stretch of Query Road. Bumpy ride.

    Nobody loves me, everybody hates me
    going to the garden to lick toads …

    Em : )

  7. inspiring pictures!!! i love the reference to God in the female gender. it completely softens the picture painted by the words and phrases!! The “monsoon” showers remind me of home 🙂 listening to our monsoon songs and reading your posts 🙂 almost feels like im back in india 🙂 but im having fun in holland 🙂 how’re you doing?

  8. Thank you! I was just thinking of you last week, having heard reference to the monsoons of India. I’d love to visit both places one day, India (everything) and Holland, especially the Anne Frank House.

    One of my most fave movies is Monsoon Wedding — I’ve seen it so many times, lol. I too noticed the monsoons of India reminded me of ours, here.

    How are you, how are your eyes, your writing, everything?

    I’m good here, thanks for asking. : ) Still in Query Hell, but pushing onward.

    Em : )

  9. I am floored by your photos! There’s nothing like a photograph to make us see the obvious truths we are always so quick to forget — in this case, the mindboggling beauty of the world we live in. Some of those cacti photos look almost human. Another important reminder — this time of the connectedness of all life. It makes me wonder what my life will be like when I’m a cactus. I have a postcard from the Boston Aquarium of big, beautiful pinkish-purple lagoon jellyfish floating in the water like lush, iridescent flowers. I used to keep it taped to my computer when I worked in a high-pressure corporate environment. When things got too crazy, I would look at it and imagine how peaceful my life would be during my lifetime as a beautiful jellyfish at the bottom of the ocean. It never failed to bring down my blood pressure a bit.

  10. Thank you! And I loved your comment. Made me smile. : )

    All that beauty, I think it’s everywhere, and you just keep your eyes open.

    Although AZ is lovely, yes. The saguaros, (pronounced sah-war-o) those being the green cacti with the arms (like in the rainbow photo), DO look like people out there, very tall people, lol, especially at dusk.

    The photo with the clouds in the back and those shorter, whitish-green cacti that look like prickly, angry trees, are called jumping cholla, (pronouned choy-ah), because it’s said that if you get close enough, a section will “jump” on to you. It really does seem as if they do.

    And then they stick to you, because they have spines that curve once they get beneath your skin. Ouch, believe me. : P Yet they are so beautiful.


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