Desert sunshine

I’m back on the train for another long haul after my last visit to Washington relatives. The east side of the mountains is so much different from the west, but I love the desert. My lips chap and my skin cracks and the dry heat is hardly more comfortable than the humidity of Michigan, but it is awfully nice how quickly my hair dries. Plus the sunsets are gorgeous. Tonight the moon came up big and full, and while the sun set off a spectrum of colors in the western sky, the reflection off the moon in the east was a show of its own. With hay bales and tractors in the foreground, it was agrarian bliss.

It always amazes me how much farming happens in the desert. It is so different from the farming I know, and I know so little about it. It seems like a tenuous livelihood, to be so dependent on infrastructure and compliance with allocated rights. But it certainly seems to work: those hay bales and orchards, dry beans and—of course—the wines are a definite testament. And it’s beautiful, too, if I haven’t already made that clear.

Today my aunt and I stopped into town where my uncle was helping to get some old tractors running. They were starting up a 1939 Deere when we got there, and after a few turns of some part I didn’t recognize, the engine crawled to life. Over the cheerful thrum of the two cylinder machine was a syncopated sputtering that I could almost dance to. It’s be a great rhythm to mix into a jazz tune, that’s for sure.

It’s such a different experience, traveling alone to visit my relatives, than traveling with my family. My aunt observed as we were saying goodbye how much more of a chance we got to talk, and it’s true; she and my mom get along so well that I can hardly get a word in to their conversations when we all come out together. In some ways, I wish I weren’t alone. I love to listen in to the conversations my dad and uncle have about their work and worldviews, and my sister brings to life a side of my cousins that I don’t see when I’m alone, but traveling alone is a different blessing.

The sun rises in Montana. I can’t wait.

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