Change of Scenery

One thing about living in the rainshadow of the mountains is that you don’t have to go far to experience a change of scenery. And the change is much appreciated this time of year when the scrappy dirty piles of snow are melting and the wind makes you pull your hat down around your ears.

Drive east for just over and hour, and get out into the sagebrush and basalt desert. My nephew Ross guided me and his sister Tessa in this dry place. The sun was bright and the air warm. We all peeled out of flannel shirts and hiked in T-shirts. Sunglasses too. The trail was dry. The clear notes of a canyon wren descended against the cliffs.

These coulees and basins were formed when the ice dam on glacial Lake Missoula broke and water gushed across the Columbia Plateau. This happened not once, but was repeated many times as the dam grew again and drained. Ice Age floods carved this place and left a string of lakes.

Swallows were arcing and twirling overhead. Insects fluttered. Sagebrush leaves are plump with spring moisture. Clumps of grass are succulent and green. And the sagebrush buttercups are blooming. Joy. April is the time to go to the desert. Go.