Desert Companion

Zeit bites: Not all signs are neon


Tule Springs
Photography by Brent Holmes

At home in the mirage of Tule Springs

Gravity pulls and buoyancy pushes. A breeze lifts the crinoline of a deciduous tree, and its lower limbs dip and part with a tiny handful of boat-shaped leaves. In the pond, catfish tilt back and make O-shaped mouths. It’s almost as if they want to drink from the sky. I wonder if these creatures’ lips reach toward the roundness of the new moon at night, but I’ll never know. Floyd Lamb State Park closes around dusk.

Tule Springs is an oasis, a space within which I explore the magnet-like pull between differences in this world and the push between similarities, as well. The foliage is so lush that this watering hole seems to be a Mojave Desert mirage. A sign informs us that mammoths, giant sloths and other larger-than-life animals once lived here. This claim seems outrageous, yet I know it’s true. Paleontologists proved it, the sign says. My daydream of ancient giants roaming the Vegas Valley parades my thoughts toward the Strip. This sign feels right. Today we have acrobats that soar, urban volcanoes that ignite and theaters that drop a sky’s worth of confetti into the palms of our tired hands, but this isn’t where the wonder of our home began.

At this state park, we lay down our blanket and open our picnic basket. We allow content, sympathetic yawns to follow one another. We play a game of cards, for fun.

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Peacocks, and their iridescent trains, samba to a music that we cannot hear. Who says that showgirls are a thing of the past? I know these pretty birds are male. We watch, and despite the hundreds of golden-laced eyes, not one pays us any heed. Their clawed feet, which look out of place, remind me of blistered brides who have tossed aside their stilettos. I once learned that the two most-jagged protrusions on these birds’ legs are called spurs. I chuckle as I imagine a peacock riding a horse. Peafowl in a cowboy hat could only happen in Vegas, I think. Tule Springs Pond is, in part, an escape, but it’s also a reminder that we’re home here.

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