Writing Scenery

One of my favorite things to do is take a movie or television series I like a lot and write fan fiction.  I’ll put the DVD/Blue Ray in the player and sit on the bed.  For hours I will go over the same scene in the show trying to get every last detail of the set down in words.  Am I great at writing so someone can see what I see in my mind?  Not really, but I am getting better.

I do the same thing with the landscape around here.  We live right by the Organ Mountains.  The Organ Mountains are nothing like the majestic Rocky Mountains of my youth.  (Yeah, I know they are part of the same mountain chain.)  The Organ Mountains are shorter and rockier than the Colorado Rockies.  There really isn’t a lot of tall vegetation on the Organ Mountains near us.  Every morning the sun comes up over gray, jagged rocks.  Every evening the rays of the sun turns the mountains almost red.  The peaks have no plants growing on them, so the soil gives them their color.  On one side of the pass is a wide expanse filled with the small structures of a growing town in the Mesillia Valley.  The other side of the pass is open desert that stretches on until it reaches the next mountain range.  There’s not much on the other side, just White Sands Missile Range.  Low growing desert plants populate the range.  One could claim it is because the desert has no water.  I wonder if it is because of the radiation.  After all, the Trinity Site is on the range.  Every now and then you will see a tree as you drive across the desert.  The trees look more like bushes.  As you near the western edge of the valley to the left of US 70 you see the beginnings of the sand dune field.

White sand dunes rise slightly from the desert floor.  They are not as impressive as the Great Sand Dunes in their height or sandiness.  The tallest dunes in this field can easily be climbed in a few moments of time.  Your feet don’t sink in to the sand, even with boots on.  Sleds have to be waxed if you want any chance of being able to slide down the white sand.  All around you are the shadows of mountains.  They rise around the desert valley to stand guard over this little piece of New Mexico.

Valleys within the dune field are filled with miniature gardens.  The gardens contain yucca plants, their pointed green leaves reaching towards the sky.  Small four-section podded containers are attached to the furthest reaches of the yucca plant.  Soon, the four sections of the podded containers will open to spread the seeds of the next generation.  Seeds will blow in the desert wind, sometimes miles away from the yucca plant.  The wind will pile sand over the seed.  The next time the valley gets rain, the seed will begin to grow.  It will first send out a root looking for water.  Once the seed has found water it will begin to push towards the surface of the earth.  Soon, the seed will be a small plant in the valley of the desert, giving some color to a barren land.

Then some amateur photographer comes along and decides to try to show the beauty of the plants living in an area where most life would die.  She twists her ball cap so the bill of the cap is covering her neck.  Her hair is brushed out of her face as she kneels in the sand and heat.  Holding the camera down in front of her, the amateur photographer looks around for the best shot.  Concentration shows in the squint of her eyes as she begins to snap pictures of the lonely valley the tourists have not touched.  She straightens her hat as she stands.  Removing the sunglasses from where she had placed them on her belt loop, she shields her eyes from the glaring of the light bouncing off the sand.  One last look around convinces her to take one last picture.  She smiles as she walks off to find the next picture.  That night, as she goes through her photos of the day, she curses the white expanse.  It has confused her poor camera, causing the camera shots not to be perfect.  Then again, maybe they are perfect.  Maybe everything is slightly blurry in a desert.

One of the "valleys" in the dune field

2 thoughts on “Writing Scenery

  1. I just thought I would add that my dad has lots of yucca plants in his field where he grazes his cows.

  2. I just finished reading “The Color of Lightning” by Paulette Jiles and one thing I really liked about it was how much detail she put into describing the setting and scenery. It took place in North Texas and Oklahoma so it was like reading about home. You might find it interesting. It is a ficitional story based on real events – the capture and enslavement of Texas settlers by Indians shortly after the Civil War.
    Aunt Nina

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