The desert, as an entity unto itself, in its wholeness, does not believe in disguise. It wears no mask. This is what I like most about the desert. I look out on the land here and see it for exactly what it is: thrumming with life, dry and blistering and bristling, thorny, wrinkled and rumpled, hard hearted and brilliant with beauty. There are no games here. There is no facade I must recognize and surmount in order to comprehend the root and tooth of the place. The land here is naked and vulnerable despite everything that bites, prickles and stings. I have never taken this for granted, being able to read a desert like a book. I don’t mean this space isn’t complicated and worthy of exploration and study, I just mean it makes itself plain to the seeing eye — it’s a quality I appreciate.
I can trust in the character of the land here, in the way it presents itself. The sky is broad, the ground is sun and wind calloused; somewhere between the two I exist and remain — inconsequential and delicate. No small violence is unexpected, no broad beauty is beyond belief. The desert owns exactly what it is, unabashedly, unapologetically. I move through it accordingly.
We’re living in a straw bale house on the edge of the Snake River in south central Idaho right now. It’s a beautiful, humble life. Every morning we wake up with the sun, make tea and coffee, build breakfast, make a plan for the day, and then go out and live. We hunt quail in the morning, swap out a tired dog for a fresh dog and hunt chukar all afternoon, until the sun goes down, then we head home to our little straw bale house and make dinner, pour a glass of wine, mix a gin and tonic, light the Christmas tree and talk and read until we feel tired enough to go to sleep.
We don’t have an internet connection.
We haven’t a television.
We have a 3G phone connection if we stand in a certain part of the house.
This is our version of a holiday — reverting to a simple life, doing the things we love on a daily basis, eating when we are hungry, taking some of our food from the land, watching the ducks, herons and hawks with a pair of binoculars from a chair by a warm fire. We walk out in the sage to collect bones, we daydream aloud about what future we might make for ourselves and where that future might be.
We rented this house because we’ve always wanted to rent this house and have been watching it for a few years now, hoping to enjoy its simple comforts for a month or two in the heart of winter, in the heart of the off-season, in the heart of upland country.
We are also renting this house because of its proximity to the land we have been hunting and learning and knowing since we moved to Idaho in 2008. These are our stomping grounds. We treasure the Snake River plain and always have. We treasure the rim rock rising up from a ribbon of blue, this rugged country that holds game birds, this wild country that opens our hearts, this heartless country that promises to swallow us whole every time we step out in it.
We love this country.
We have carefully budgeted our lives and monies for months to come in a way that allows us to live this way. We aren’t lucky but we are blessed. Even a blind man could tell you that. We have another fire season coming. We have a house to sell. We have life transitions galore to tackle, unravel and sort out.
We are here to practice togetherness and every day we find each other a little better, every day we find each other a little more.