Katrina and I stepped under the pale stucco archway. To our left, tucked between the eastern and southern arches, stood a tall statue of Sekhmet, ancient Egypt’s lion-headed goddess. To our right, between the eastern and northern entries, was an altar covered in small representations of the Divine Feminine: Quan Yin, the Venus of Willendorf, Parvati. The flagstone floor glistened with desert rocks, sand, and small glass pebbles.
Above us, open sky beckoned beyond a dome of intersecting copper circles.
Gazing up, I realized I’d made an error. The small, open temple wasn’t cut off from the Mojave Desert surrounding it, but the feel within its walls was different enough, and familiar enough. Sacred space.
“Hey,” I said, looking back at my sister. “I need to take off my shoes.”
Katrina stepped backwards several steps. “I was thinking the same thing.”
Forty-five minutes after lifting off out of Houston—an evening flight bound for Las Vegas—I finished a chapter of my current book (Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, an exploration of the Appalachian Trail) and wondered about the stars. As soon as my eyes adjusted to the dark outside my window, I spotted Cassiopeia, the vain queen, her five major stars prone directly in front of me. I smiled and shut off my reading light.
My sister was pointing at a large ornamental desert plant. She and I were several laps into an evening walk-and-talk around her neighborhood, and we were now stopped beneath the sparse Las Vegas stars regarding the plant in question with deepening curiosity. Continue reading “Memento Mori IV – Or, Agave Americana”→
Through the vast rocky desert of southern Nevada, Andrew and I are returning from an afternoon in Pahrump when we round a bend and see Las Vegas sprawled below us.
The city appears like a mirage. Approached on desert roads at night, Las Vegas glimmers like a lake of stars, the Luxor Sky Beam suspended between heaven and earth like an anchor’s taut chain. In the daylight, the Mojave Desert opens wide and reveals a civilization of millions.
Generally speaking, one prefers that unexpected things not fall out of library books onto one’s face.
Yet there I was a few weeks back, curled up in bed, engrossed in Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, when I turned a page and—well, the next thing I knew, my limbic system had kicked on and I was scrambling aside, swatting at my face and staring at the dark fluttering thing now landing on my sheets. Continue reading “No Accounting for Symbolism – or, Library Pressed Flowers”→