finalsenseofplace Essay Desert Sky

Nicole Dinovo
Cacti, Sunsets, and Dirt: These Are My Roots
The Arizona Sonoran Desert after a rainstorm, during the summer monsoons
is a place that gravely resonates with me. I would have driven my car out, a few miles
down the road from my house to get deeper into the desert. I would find the spotĀ 
where there are no houses, just desert and mountains surrounding me. But, there is a
lone structure. This structure is not a house, nor is it merely a shack; it is possibly the
beginnings of a security gate for a neighborhood that has never been built, or that is
yet to be built. I would climb to the top of this structure, and find a comfortable place
to sit. This was the place where I could see the stars; a rare thing in the city. But,
after a rainstorm, it would be cloudy, with the sunset peering through, making the
clouds near the horizon glow bright orange. It would be exceedingly warm, the kind
of warmness that completely covers my skin; like a warm blanket, surrounding and
encompassing me.
Usually in the desert, everything is dry, and to an outsider it may even seem
lifeless, but after a rainstorm, everything feels alive; every tree and every bush, every
leaf, as if the world is vibrating. As
if everything is much more than itself. I sit there,
peering down at the cacti, the bushes, and the small animals scurrying around. I can
hear coyotes howling, enjoying their recently caught rabbit. I hear the javelinas
bustling about, trying to find the next trashcan to knock over. I can also hear the
rattlesnakes nearby, slithering in and out of the ground, finding their next meal. I
know from many years of experience that as long as I do not bother all of these desertĀ 
creatures, they will not bother me. Looking farther away, I can see the vastness of the
desert; with Pinnacle Peak, Camelback, and other various mountains surrounding and
protecting me, like the arms of a mother protecting her child. Next, I notice the
clouds, seemingly endless, but like a protective canopy overhead.
Then, there is the smell. There is nothing like the smell of the desert right after
a rainstorm. It is petrichor- the smell of the earth after it rains. A beautiful word for a
beautiful smell. I feel tranquil, and at home. I unwillingly think of how I need to enjoy
the rain, in this moment, because by tomorrow there will be clear skies, and it will be
over 100 degrees. I can hear the last bit of drizzle as it hits the ground, the