It has been a long time since I have gone for a walk in the rain. While the temperature is cooler than normal, it’s still warm enough to be out in a sleeveless shirt. I head up the road to the end of the cul de sac. On the way I remove my shoes and allow myself the joy of splashing in the water as it runs downhill. I’m not exactly "singing in the rain," but I am having fun.
Farther up the street I return my shoes to my feet so I can go out to the edge of the desert. There is a spot up here where I can stand on the edge of the world it seems. Before me the desert spreads out wild and undisturbed. To the south are the Santa Rita Mountains, to the west I can see the towns of Green Valley, and Sahuarita. Beyond them the scars from a mining operation are etched into the hills. Immediately before me I can see down into the wash below, the silver gravel snaking through the mesquite, creosote bush, and cactus. Between the brush the grasses have turned green and lush. I hear the laughter of a Gila woodpecker and the inquiring call of a Gambel’s quail. Somewhere the silvery tinkling of a black-throated sparrow is ringing across the desert.
With the cooler temperatures the desert has come alive. Birds are flitting from tree to tree, or bush to bush. There is movement everywhere. I scan the wash for signs of other life. I wonder if there are coyotes or javalina hiding beneath the desert scrub.
The soft rain continues to fall, but it is tapering off. I am starting to see the sun trying to burn through the remnants of tropical storm Henriette. Behind me lies the neighborhood. I hear the strains of a Mexican radio station wafting out the windows of a home under construction. The rain has chased most of the workers off for the day, but someone is working inside a house.
I truly feel like I am on a precipice. Behind me is civilization; before me is the vanishing wilderness. Will the desert survive this intrusion of man? How many rabbits, birds, lizards, snakes and other animals will lose their homes to make way for the human habitations? I can’t but help ask myself, what is my part in all of this, and what is my responsibility? I am so moved by the wildness I see before me. It frightens me even as it call to me. Am I brave enough to wander out there and listen to the desert's voice? Am I willing to learn what it wants to teach me?
I turn my back and head for home with these questions rattling around in my brain. The rain has tapered off. The sun has re-emerged. My skin is slick with rain as I walk home and think.