Barren or Bountiful
It seems to me that the strangeness and wonder of
existence are emphasized here, in the desert, by the
comparative sparsity of the flora and fauna; life not
crowded upon life...with a generous gift of space
for each herb and bush and tree, each stem of grass,
so that the living organism stands out bold and brave
and vivid against the lifeless sand and barren rock.
Edward Abbey, Desert Sunshine, 1968
Look around you. Perhaps you see a stark land
that nature never quite got around to finishing.
Or you may see potential mineral wealth, defense
testing grounds, alternative energy sources, or a vvast
recreational playground. Or maybe you see the
desert for what it is—a diverse, thriving ecosystem.
Deserts are not deserted, but teeming with life&$151;
insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals;
algae, fungi, cacti, flowers, shrubs, and trees.
All are well adapted to conserve water, cope with
temperature extremes, escape predators, and
survive the sun, wind, and sometimes torrential
rains in this exposed environment. The genius
of desert plants and animals for locating and
retaining water will amaze, baffle, and surprise
you. For desert life, survival is an art.