[the following is a rough-draft excerpt from my nearly completed manuscript titled “Desert Fire”] One of several Desert Gifts is nearly year ‘round Bougainvillea blossoms! Is there any important difference between the gifts received by being in the desert and those gifts that are indigenous to the desert? The Bougainvillea is not indigenous to the Sonoran Desert (also referred to as Sonora) — it is a South American native though it has become naturalized here — yet its blooming provides great joy through color, profusion, vibrant energy … a transplant that has found a home here and relishes the arid climate, the heat as well as the cooler temperatures of winter’s onset. I am a transplant, too, and my infused creative energy can be mirrored to some extent by that of the Bougainvillea. I can’t remain for long in direct sunlight — unlike the Bougainvillea — but the autumn shifting brings forth a bounty of energy from me likened to the fresh, clean, bright, heather-weight bracts that laugh mischievously among their chaotic community. My recent research has helped me see Sonora through a softer, more accepting lens, to admire her and her Beings of all forms for their ability to thrive and dance! To acknowledge that she isn’t “out to get me” like a bandit who wants to rob me of my juiciness. Instead, she encourages me toward recognition of the need for self-nurture and self-realization of what I need so that I can flourish. Sonora was willing to play the devil’s advocate, to portray herself as the villain, until I could see that the true villain was inside me … my fears and insecurities and lack of self-awareness in certain qualities. She helped me see the wisdom of being able to live anywhere because to thrive comes from inside myself, not from external situations per se. Those without self-reflection can be destroyed whether they live in the blistering heat of the desert or on a tropical island ignoring the lava flowing straight towards them or in the north woods ignoring a tree that is crashing down. So, maybe it’s okay that the Bougainvillea bring me joy in them, myself, and the ability of Sonora to cause them to thrive. Which brings me full circle to my desire for travel, to wisely intuit when I need to go away to absorb the emotional and psychological nutrients I don’t have around me — just as the Archaic hunter-gatherers moved around. Finding my inner Wise Woman, she who guides me not to blame Sonora — or any other external factor — but to listen to how our frequencies sing together at different times. Are we discordant or harmonizing? When not in accord, do we need a little time away from each other? I had been resisting planting Bougainvillea in the courtyard because I didn’t want to encourage bees to be so close by … but does the joy of the visual flowering splendor outweigh the fear of the bees? I still retain a fear of bees though it’s nowhere near as intense as it used to be. Bees — fire, intensity, inflammation, heat, swelling, pain. Again, the fear of these things can constrict my breathing — my prana — more than anaphylactic shock would. A childhood wasp sting — and my bad reaction to it — seems to have elevated this fear of being stung, of having venom pumped throughout my system without my permission or any control over it. In turn, this also translates to my fear of scorpions, a separate desert topic in and of itself. Even mosquitos cause large red, itchy welts to rise up on my skin and stay a long time. My body and mind do not react well to fire … easy and frequent sunburns, severe headaches, photophobia, nausea from any kind of over-heating. That kind of fiery intensity easily overwhelms me. Combine this susceptibility with the hot flashes and night sweats of menopause and what happens? Ash results. However, Sonora reminds me to be self-aware, to either remove myself from exposure at its height or be sure to know the remedial scenarios to dissipate the heat, whether that is silence during an argument, drinking water in the shade, or simply remaining in my home-cave. During the most intense fires of life, it does not do me — or anyone else — any good to go up in flames and disappear into the vastness of the desert, my bleached bones to be found later tossed around by coyote pups at play in the mirage of life. The key to all of this is knowing, accepting, embracing myself as a non-native of Sonora and reducing my expectations that I can be someone I’m not. Here, I’m a transplant, and my purpose requires a different approach, a different amount of fire — only a small amount of fire that is held gently, cradled close to my heart like a stone warmed to a sweet, moderate temperature that soothes and creates sparks in imagination and spinal fluid so that body and mind flow within the subterranean streams feeding all life in the desert. I say Grace … thank you, Sonora. How do each of us handle the Fire in our lives? Are we comfortable with intensity? Do we, in fact, relish the heat? Or do we shy away from the flames?