Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Rhythm of Desert Summer

Well I've been back in the desert about two weeks now. I knew it would be hot when I got here, and sure enough it is. It's easy to blister bare feet on the cement in the middle of the day, laundry dries outside in less than an hour.

Honestly, I think I'm actually enjoying the heat. There's a certain special energy to the summer in the desert. The songs of cicadas are louder and stronger every day, as the summer rains draw ever closer. Crepuscular bird song awakens me to blue skies and morning freshness, which evolves into lazy afternoons, rich with the smell of baking earth and chaparral resin.

After a year and a half of constant busy-ness, running off to school and work, leaving little time to savor a cup of tea in the morning, I've been positively relishing and soaking in the slower and lazier rhythm of summer. I fall asleep when I'm tired around 10 pm, sleep my fill and awaken naturally after 9 or 10 hours, smiling at the bright sunshine filtering into my rooms. I fix myself a cup of tea before my sweetie wakes, sip it slowly and quietly on the floor surrounded by herbs and books. Then I light some incense or smudge, lay out my yoga mat and do some gentle yoga stretches, or more vigourous sun salutations to get the blood flowing. I work up a bit of a sweat in the warmth, and then head to the bathroom for a cold, invigorating shower, window thrown wide open, fresh air and sunshine and cold water combining on my skin. It's just about as good as a naked dunk into a fresh, cold river with sunshine and wind ( well as good as it gets in a shower indoors, anyway.) I push the water off my skin with my hands and then rub myself all over with a fragrant cooling oil. Coconut oil is especially good when the weather is hot, as it is a cooling oil, the addition of rose, ylang ylang or peppermint cools and soothes the pitta dosha which can easily swing out of balance in the heat of the summer.

After I bathe, I go to my sweet yellow little kitchen with a gas stove and a clean and organized fridge full of fresh, nourishing foods, and prepare myself breakfast. Eggs dressed with homemade mayonnaise and green chile relish from my dear friends at the Anima Center, spiced brown rice or turmeric laced mung dal ( which is the perfect bean for summer heat, it is cooling, easy to digest and detoxifying to the body), and a bowl of sauteed greens or zuchinni subji, cooked with cooling coriander and cumin.

Around this time my sweetie emerges from the bedroom, and does his yoga practice as I tidy up the kitchen, put away the dishes from the previous wash. After he showers and prepares we head to the local coffee shop to attend to our online business, answering e mails, finding jobs and clients, and working on my articles and business plan.

Evenings are relaxed, either at home preparing a simple dinner, or visiting friends which we haven't seen in over a year. It's been wonderful, I run into someone I know almost every day, regardless of planning to or not. We've been making connections with new people almost as frequently, finding that Yes, Indeed, the desert of Southern Arizona has a special magic about it. The pace is slower, some would call it dumpy, lazy and boring, but the people are friendly, open and energy flows freely, in whichever direction you so choose to direct it.

I think the reason I haven't found a PT job yet, is that I really don't WANT a PT job. I haven't put it out the universe that I want to do something meaningless for someone else. I want and need to focus my energy and drive towards creating a place for me to practice herbalism and nutrition, finding clients, giving herb walks, classes and on nourishing myself and my own personal growth. The last year and half was full of outward activity, with little energy left to direct on personal growth and healing.
I feel the lazy energy of summer as a focus inward. It seems counter intuitive since usually summer is the busy time of the year, but here in the desert, the unique environmental rhythm requires you to adjust. The heat makes you lazy, it makes you want to lie around and relax. Too much movement makes you sweat and overheat. Before the rains come to the desert, the environment is almost in a state of dormancy, but there is an expectancy in the air, especially as the time for rain draws nearer. Spring bloom has long since passsed, and there are many dried and withered plants waiting for rain. June is the hottest and driest time of the year here, and almost like in winter, creatures retreat to the shade of burrows and rocks, and emerge after dusk to do their hunting.
So likewise, my energy, not quite dormant, but resting and building within in expectation of the bursting forth of a second flush of fertility and growth and change when the monsoons blow in. Every year that I lived in the desert here, summer, especially late summer, coinciding with violent monsoon weather, has been a time of fierce transformation. It has required me to let go of and destroy some aspects of my life, like the rains, winds and lightning wash away and destroy parts of the environment ripe for change, in order to allow the fruiting and harvest of that which truly matters and benefits me. In summer, I've lost jobs, I've lost relationships, I've changed homes and more. I learned so much in the last year and a half away from this desert home, and I feel this time is a time of incorporating what I've learned, finding ways to fit it into my previous way of being an herbalist/healer, and then shedding the chrysalis, letting go of the aspects of myself and what I've accumulated over the last year and a half that do not or will not serve well in this next phase.
A personal retreat in August at the Anima Center will further this process, demanding awareness and effort, feeling deeply myself and my calling, and forcing me to grow and let go. This summer too promises to be full of transformation, both destruction and new growth. For now, I'm living and breathing and trying to be fully in each moment without fear of what tomorrow brings, despite the lack of money or a steady wage slavery, enjoying the heat, sipping my iced tea, and cooking something delicious for my friends at this evenings social event.


Kiva Rose said...

beautiful! you sound happier than you have in a long time....

such a wonderful description of the desert seasons and rhythms... similar to here, but still different and unique, the sonoran desert is an ecosystem all its own.

Livia Indica said...

Your description of desert life is so vivid and fascinating that it makes me wish I could experience it.

Shamana Flora said...

i think i am! the desert is such a unique environment. I think it draws unique folks to it.

"The mother of us all, the oldest of us all, Hard, splendid as rock, Let the beauty you love, be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth"~ Rumi ~