I love the wilderness, the scent of creosote sticky on my fingers, the wind blowing lime green desert willow leaves into piles in the wash, the soft pinkness of boulders i can curve my body around. And the stillness where there is a lack of human infrastructure. I build my days on a morning of light and texture and motion, a bustle of twelve quail at once, sand sand in my shoes. We need nature. Human beings need pockets outside of doing, outside of things about other things, outside of the known world coded in language. What is the balance though between the human constructed world and the natural world- turning mountains into buildings at a steel factory, slicing through the desert with a highway line straight from Kansas to LA, removing hundreds of desert tortoises to build one square mile of solar panels? How do we interact with the environment in a way that honors both nature itself, and our current modes of living? This months Scout Bookclub book is Desert Solitaire by one Edward Abbey, an environmentalist heralded as the Thoreau of the West. Abbey, desert name Cactus Ed, spent a few summers as a ranger in Arches National Monument in Moab, Utah, learning the way that the land is, what it does to the human spirit, and what we really need in this world. He wrote Desert Solitaire about these experiences. It is a meditation on freedom, on edges and boundaries separating us from ourselves, including the idea of the National Park. How do we truly experience the natural world, for ourselves? We will think about how Abbey lived in and learned to know his desert landscape, and how we too are writing the narrative of our lives, in this particular landscape, a landcape valued by people from all over the world for its beauty, strangeness, and places of solitude. My first time to Joshua Tree, I was 18 and had been living in California for 4 days. I slept at Jumbo Rocks in the park and woke up at sunrise and sat and sat on a rock, felt the time of the sun and knew everything in that moment, alone. This memory of me as me is deeply a part of me, and I hold it alongside my life here now. We can do both, perhaps, or that is the goal. To remain connected to the mystery and magic of a place while maintaing a life pattern within it, a normalcy, a job at the coffee shop and driving a car.
Katie Bachler was our first HDTS Scout, and was in residence from 2012-2013.
The HDTS Scout Residency is dedicated to learning more about the people and places that make up our diverse and ever evolving community.
During Katie’s residency, visitors were invited to drop into the HDTS HQ, the Scout’s home base, to meet Katie, who could be found making maps, hosting conversations, and baking bread – in between her off-site adventures around town and out in the field.
Katie had a lot in store during her time here, including:
- a series of talks featuring local experts
- joining together to create a web of knowledge
- a research library and archive documenting the many spaces, places, plants, and people that make up this special region
- casual conversations with drop in visitors over tea
- site visits and field trips around town
Katie engaged the community by instigating map-making and rag-rug braiding workshops, the Scout’s Book Club, Art in the Environment classes for desert kids, casual conversations, site visits and field trips—all shared in her Scout’s blog, which serves as the foundation for her book.