In The Loop & Under The Radar

Those of us who live in the unique south west desert of Utah have learned to appreciate the fragile beauty of this incredible landscape. This is a beauty tempered by extremes. At times those extremes can test a person and their resolve to inhabit this remarkable area. There may be challenges for sure but for us  who call it home...there is no place on earth like it. 

 Need a reminder why we are here? Take a step outside your door and discover the life that surrounds you. Reach across cultures and extend a welcoming hand. You will soon remember why you choose southern Utah. Do you have friends or  family who question your sanity for living in such a place? Or just don't get it? Do them a favor and send them a taste of life down south, courtesy of Jeremiah Barber Photography. Click on the links below and forward them to the skeptics in your life and let the envy begin.

Some naysayers made need a bit more convincing... this one is for them.

Do Yourself A Favor

From the "do yourself a favor" department a couple of noteworthy publications. Passing Through is a poignant and beautiful look at the fringes of our desert culture. Rocks and Plants is a must have little pocket guide to keep with you on any trip outside your door, even if it's just your own back yard. The authors are local treasures, friends of mine and just all around great guys. If you are lucky enough to know them you don't have to take my word for it. If not, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a peek at these publications.

Passing Through: An Existential Journey Across America's Outback by Richard Menzies

Rocks and Plants: A Pocket Field Guide to the Geology and Botany of the St George Basin

Covey of Quail

And speaking of desert dwellers. One of my favorite species is the quail, especially in the late spring, when all the babies appear. The official term for a cluster or family of quail is a "covey of quail". Quite often you'll see one of the parents at the front of the pack, all the babies follow in single file, and the other parent is bringing up the rear. Those new little babies look like little walnut shells scurrying on tiny feet. There can be as many as 20 of those little babies in a brood. Sadly, the mortality rate is pretty high, since they are the perfect snack size for many other desert dwellers like hawks and snakes. So one day you'll count 18 babies in a covey, and a few days later the number may be down to 11.

There are so many things to love and admire about these creatures. Aside from their distinguishing top feathers and unmistakable quail-speak, they possess traits that we as humans respect and admire. These birds mate for life, and remain monogamous til death do them part. Both parents share equally in parenting duties, and they fight to the death to protect their babies.

As a fellow desert dweller, I love to kill time drinking my beverage of choice on my patio as I watch and listen to these enchanting creatures move thru their day.

A Sense of Community

Why are some of us blessed - or cursed - with eternal wanderlust? And why are some of us content to stay put? I suspect it's mostly due to who we are to begin with. If you're old enough to remember the 1969 movie "Paint Your Wagon", play that terrible Lee Marvin song "I was born under a wanderin' star" in your head.

I find that one of the reasons why I'm content to remain a Desert Dweller is a strong sense of community. I've made really good friends here in the desert, and shared wonderful adventures and memories.

And people in the community pull together when you need them. For example, just last year - when the art village received a sudden flash flood of mud and water - our surrounding community showed up to help with whatever they could do. Dirty, smelly, backbreaking work. And just last week, in Kayenta, we held the annual Art in Kayenta festival, with a request for 140 volunteer shifts. All slots were filled by willing and giving community members.

Yes, it's easy to fall in love with our warm weather and the natural red rock beauty that surrounds us. But what keeps me here is the community. It's my family, and they give me an incredible sense of belonging and value. 

- Susan J.

Photo Credit: Charlie Wood Photography

Photo Credit: Charlie Wood Photography