Crossing Borders

sonoran desert




The other day, after a night of monsoon storms, I headed for the hills that lead to mountains just west of Tucson. 

It was a good day for wandering and listening.

It was a good day for recording thoughts and sounds.

It was a good day for crossing borders.

sonoran desert


The wash I followed is an old friend whose meandering path I've explored many times over the years in all kinds of weather. On this journey the late summer rains had brought a second Spring to the desert.

Wildflowers and forests of brilliantly leafed-out ocotillos undulated across the desert’s newly aquatic landscape as first light poured down through tattered clouds, the shadows pulled into the mountains, pursued by legions of White-Lined Sphinx Moth caterpillars.

 White-Lined Sphinx Moth caterpillars. 


As the day unfurled, step-by–step, breath-by-breath, thought-by-thought I  left behind the sandy, pancaked contours of the alluvial fan where the wash ends and set out in search of the place where it all begins, high up in the hills, deep within an earthen labyrinth whose serpentine walls rise  gradually upon either side.

Along the way birds call to distant planes droning across the horizon. Distant gunfire punctuates the whir of insects close and persistent.

Gradually, in this manner, time looses meaning.

In the shade of a palo verde tree I stop to eat a handful of orange desert hackberries which hang abundantly from a bush, taking the time to spit seeds high into the sky.

desert hackberry


Without the steady crunch of gravel beneath my soles to mark my passage, the desert has an opportunity open wide and my senses expand into the void.

Sitting in stillness, the borders of within and without melt and blur.

All the world is, perfectly synced and unfolding, a moment of being so clear and fragile that once recognized as such it can no longer hold and vanishes into what had always been.

sonoran desert


Traveling back to where this journey began, I ruminated upon the idea of all living things are in migration, traveling a finite journey of life punctuated by the border crossings of birth and death.

And perhaps even birth again.

It had been roughly one month since my daughter was born and the death of a friend's father, and both transitions were in the forefront of my thoughts.

Where we go during our migrations, what we do with our time in transit, the borders we choose to accept as impassable and the ones we decide to cross are all rooted in the arbitrary constructs of our own imaginations and inhibitions.

sonoran desert


Eventually these thoughts led to a new sound work --- Crossing Borders --- built from field recordings made that day and others I’d been collecting during other journeys in the Sonoran Desert.  

This is an excerpt from the greater work expected to be released as a cd later this year.

I hope you enjoy it.


desert tortoise