When my kids were babies and we lived in Tucson's Sonoran desert, I pined for a nice, green lawn - an outside space that was something more than dust dotted with thorny plants, the occasional scorpion or, god-forbid, a rattlesnake. The harsh desert landscape of the southwest was one of many reasons we moved back to the green fields of the midwest before our twins turned two.
Fifteen years later, I am back in Tucson by myself for a short visit. As I sit on a bench gazing at the landscape in the late-afternoon light, I feel an almost startling affection for the cactus-dotted dusty expanse before me. The mighty saguaros towering above me command respect, the clusters of prickly pears paddles welcome me like old friends. The stoic circus of uniquely shaped plants, all hardy, self-sufficient, and untouchable bring me peace, and unexpectedly, to tears.
Nostalgia is no doubt part of what I'm feeling, I am a soon-to-be empty nester afterall. But it's also relief. Relief that my kids no longer need me to protect them from obvious hazards like giant thorns and venomous creatures. Relief that although my journey through parenthood has been flecked with some real struggles, I currently have kids who trust and love me, and a husband whom I still like. I am relieved that although I feel a little sad, I am actually quite happy.
And with those things in mind, I sit back and take in the stillness. This stillness is golden.