Notes from the desert, Wednesday:
Notes from the desert, Friday:

Notes from the desert, Thursday:

The view from the porch, looking out to the Rincons, where my novel ''The Wood Wife'' was set.

"The sky was as full of motion and change as the desert beneath it was monotonous and still, and there was so much sky, more than at sea, more than anywhere else in the world. The plain was there, under one's feet, but what one saw when one looked about was that brilliant blue world of stinging air and moving cloud. Even the mountains were mere ant-hills under it. Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky. The landscape one longed for when one was away, the thing all about one, the world one actually lived in, was the sky, the sky!"
  -  Willa Cather

The sky, the sky.

Benjamine Aliere Sanez's poem ''To Desert'' written on the wall of the Main House kitchenTo the Desert
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

I came to you one rainless August night.
You taught me how to live without the rain.
You are thirst and thirst is all I know.
You are sand, wind, sun, and burning sky,
The hottest blue. You blow a breeze and brand
Your breath into my mouth. You reach—then bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
You wrap your name tight around my ribs
And keep me warm. I was born for you.
Above, below, by you, by you surrounded.
I wake to you at dawn. Never break your
Knot. Reach, rise, blow, Sálvame, mi dios,
Trágame, mi tierra. Salva, traga, Break me,
I am bread. I will be the water for your thirst.


I love Saenz's poem because I also moved to the desert on a hot August night, in 1990, and the land did indeed teach me how "to live without the rain," breaking me open and fashioning my life, work, art, and spirit anew. I love the poem so much that I wrote on the kitchen wall here at Endicott West, surrounded by my favorite desert trees, the ghostly white sycamores....

Desert sycamore tree murals in the Main House kitchenThe mural paintings in the Main House kitchen, and Saenz's poem hand-written in gold ink.

EWest kitchenEvening in the kitchen, looking out to horse corrals and mountains. So many fine conversations here....

Charles Vess & Charles de Lint at E-WestCharles Vess and Charles de Lint at the same table some years ago, signing pages for....was it "Medicine Road"?

Common Room

The Common Room in the Main HouseThe Common Room in the Main House, and color, color, everywhere. The clear desert light seems to demand it.

Oliver & Toby, E-West, 2005My beloved cat Oliver (the big tiger-striped boy) on the Common Room couch, with Emma Bull and Will Shetterly's cat Toby, 2005. Oliver lived to be an old man of 20, and is buried on the ranch.

The CasitaThe beehive fireplace in the Casita (one of the Retreat's guest spaces), on a cool desert evening.

The Casita porch, surrounded by a walled gardenEvening light on the Casita's back porch.

Desert sycamore tree mural in the Bunk House The desert sycamore tree in E-West's Bunk House (another guest space), where I live when I'm here.

Desert lightAbove, morning light beside my bed. Below, sunset is reflected on the Rincon Mountains to the east.

''I go into the desert not only to evade the clamor and confusion of this country's cultural apparatus but also to confront, immediately and directly if it’s possible, the bare bones of existence, the elemental and fundamental, the bedrock which sustains us. I want to be able to look at and into a juniper tree, a piece of quartz, a vulture, a spider, and see it as it is in itself, devoid of all humanly ascribed qualities, anti-Kantian, even the categories of scientific description. To meet God or Medusa face to face, even if it means risking everything human in myself. I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with a nonhuman world and yet somehow survives still intact, individual, separate. Paradox and bedrock.''  - Edward Abbey (Desert Solitaire)

P1080803Photo credits: Some of the interior pictures come from Long Realty (shot before packing began), and the rest are mine.

Comments

I am more woods and river than desert - that's how I've always felt, never drawn to hot, dry places. But something calls when hearing these words, seeing these images. I can almost taste and feel the landscape.

Thank you. That's high praise indeed.

That Cather quote, wow... sometimes I just can't believe the amazingness that exists in this world - that one string of sentences can be everything in one moment.

Yes, Valerianna. I agree that one artful sentence can be every moment.

Another treat through the pages of cyber space. The desert, poetry, the purple bedroom with the tiny air conditioner on the wall: dualist reality.

What a magical landscape - a completely unknown world, with rough forms and severe beauty (I feel it that way.)! Isn't it amazing that the one and only sky has so many different faces in the different parts of the world?:) I saw it in Kenya - enormous and really high up above our heads...

Yes, and yes again.

Thank you.

This must be incredibly emotional for you. Ever since reading The Wood Wife the desert,which i haven't experienced,has captured a special place in my imagination.The earth as the floor beneath the sky!!!

Oh, Terri -- I look at these photos and feel like I could step from Endicott West into Weaver's Cottage. They're twins. I can't imagine what it must be like to have to give it up, and I'm so sorry.

I love those splashes of purple in the desert. May I ask, what is written on each side of the purple door? (Apologies if too private)

Perfectly said, Valerianna.

My heart goes out to you. What more can I say? Thank you for sharing this journey with us.

How enchanting! A dream of a place for writers and artists. My heart hurts that this is farewell, that I become aware of this as it is being dismantled. Thank you for the glimpse into what is possible when heart is in residence.

Not private at all, Cathi. The Bunk House was my living space whenever I was at E-West, but Retreat guests used it whenever I wasn't, so it's always been a semi-public space.

There are two blue doors with poems on them in the Bunk House. The door by the bed has these poems on it, handwritten in gold ink:

Why I Need the Birds by Lisel Mueller
http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2007/02/08

"Once Upon a Time," She Said by Jane Yolen
http://www.endicott-studio.com/cofhs/cofonce.html

The door under the tree painting (which goes into a charmingly rustic dusky-rose colored bathroom) has
these two short pieces written on it:

How Poetry Comes to Me

It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light

- Gary Snyder

A little too abstract, a little too wise,
It is time for us to kiss the earth again,
It is time to let the leaves rain from the skies,
Let the rich life run to the roots again.

- Robinson Jeffers

Thank you, everyone. We had such a lovely time creating this desert retreat, trying to make it as visually magical as possible -- like a work of art you could live in and walk through. (You wouldn't believe how homely this poor house was when we took it on -- just a basic 70s-era ranchette. We look at the pictures now and marvel at the transformation.)

I'm just so glad I had the chance to collaborate with Ellen and Delia this way -- and that so many people have participated in E-West over its many years of existence: as co-workers, as visitors, as friends and supporters.

Thank you, Terri! And thank you for sharing this very personal time with us.

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