February 28, 2008
By Joanna Marie, Benson, AZ

The sun is beating down on my back. It’s hot, though it’s only February. How can I love such a feeling? I sit silently, soaking in the beautiful rays. The air is open, the sky pure blue, darkest at the very top. There is nothing stifling here. Only freedom.
I stand on a high point in the ground. The land stretches out before me, dipping down into a valley, then suddenly rising up as a mountain, miles high. The sky is palest just where it touches the tip of the mountain, moving all the way around the horizon. Each is beautiful in its own way, and when the sun hits them just right, it’s almost like you can be part of the beauty; it transports on to you until you feel the shadows move, you feel the clouds flit across just as the mountains do.
A slight wind tousles my hair. The brief coolness is refreshing. When the summer is hottest a dip in cold water is the only thing that can satisfy me. Where else can such a feeling be found?
When the rain comes it pours. Not a hundred drops or a thousand or ten thousand. The rain falls in torrents, soaked up by the thirsty ground. I stand, hands upraised. I am soaked, but that doesn’t matter. My eyes are closed, my smile a laugh. I don’t move, allowing the cold water to wash me as it does the land.
A flash of lightning lights the sky, and for one second I can see all as though it was daytime. Thunder shakes the house, threatening to break it, but I am not afraid. Another flash, this one breaking off in ten directions. The electricity cuts a path through the clouds, there for only a second, then all is dark again.
Rain dribbles down the window, everything outside is a gray blur. I pull my sweater closer about me and my eyes fall back to my book. I’m reading it for the fifth time, but it’s just as interesting as the first. A slight patter accompanies me as I travel other lands, my hands quietly flipping the pages of the book. There is nowhere I’d rather be.
In winter, the plants are dead, but yet live. The air is cold, chills your throat, makes you shiver inside. In the morning it is cold enough to see your breath, but by noon it is warm enough to sit comfortably outside. In summer everything is oh, so alive! Every tree has a personality, every cactus a song. The desert sings its song to me. It is warm. It is home.
Dirt sticks to my feet, hot. Everyone tells me to put my shoes back on, but I just shake my head. The heat moves through me, warming my entire body. I glance up as a rabbit bounds across the rocky ground. I wish I could touch it, stoke its back. In another moment it has disappeared. For one moment, I wish to be free, as the rabbit is.
Of all the places, of all the lands, from every point on the globe to the direct opposite, there is nowhere I’d rather be. This is my land, a beauty given from God. My Arizona.

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