One year later: It’s easy for the desert to be green

It’s been a year! We have lived in London for a year!

Today is the day when, one year ago, we emerged from the doors of our airplane after a red-eye to Heathrow. We collected Zeke from the Animal Reception Centre and took the world’s largest Uber to Angel, an area in London. We dumped our suitcases on the sidewalk. I stayed with Zeke and the suitcases while David figured out how to get inside our apartment. It took so long that I told Zeke, “This is where we live now.” I meant the sidewalk, not London.

When we left San Francisco a year ago, California still in a horrible drought. Today the internet is flush with images of the “super bloom” after (perhaps) too much rain.

A few weeks ago I flew to Tucson for a wedding, my first return to Navajoland in decades. The desert was secretly alive for me. I sang some good songs on a 3 mile run at 6 AM on my first morning. (This is my jetlag ritual.) A Gambel’s quail greeted my song with his own, as did his whole family. Tough looking rabbits skittered around. The flowers were blooming. The desert is a harsh place to live, but even so everyone thrives anyway.

After the wedding, I had the longest layover ever–17 hours–in San Francisco on my way back to Heathrow. Hello, sleep over at Francesca’s house! She and Maneul picked me up and immediately drove me to Ocean Beach. After traveling in dusty Navajoland, that night my feet waded into the Pacific Ocean, a place that feels as special and holy to me as Navajoland and my field in Fredericksburg.

I listened to the ocean and was amazed at how easy it is for the desert to be green. Or that in a few short hours, I went from dust and rock to a cold, cold ocean that also lives in the air as fog. I don’t have the power to make the desert green, but I’m glad that it can be sometimes. And even if it stays dry and arid: look at that quail, that rabbit, that lizard. They are fine.

David and I still exclaim over how green it is here. It made me feel hopeful that maybe life here will grow and be green as well. The trees and plants give me a sense of time. In California, I always felt a little lost with that. And here in London, life does feel green. Some parts of life feel dry, but then I remember  all the good things happening even if it seems dry.


Some green things:

  • I have a temporary, part-time job at St Luke’s, our church to administrate the Kentish Fleet Festival. It’s an arts festival in Kentish Town they put on every year with 3 other churches. It’s been a lot to organize (or ‘organise’), but I’m grateful that my time and energies are going toward something that is a force for good in London.
  • Baygel Bagels has sold 305 bagels! 13 batches are rising on the counter right now. Bagel sales are always up and down, but I’ve decided to be the ‘she’ in “Nevertheless, she persisted.” I’ve also expanded to sammiches.
  • I’m continuing on a new body of work about beer and its history. It’s been hard to make connections here, and I do at times feel very discouraged. However, I love having our second bedroom in our apartment as my studio. We also have really long hallways that home my paintings!
  • I played a season with my field hockey club, Hendon & Mill Hill. I was named “Player’s Player” for my 3’s team. At our banquet they rewarded me with a huge balloon that says #1 CHAMPION.
  • We continue to make friends at David’s work. One couple bought a house in Finchley, a literal 8 minute walk away. We go on lots of walks with them and their pup!
  • We had our ‘hub’ from church over last weekend for a bread baking workshop. It was so cool thinking that we knew zero people a year ago, and now there’s a million people baking bread in my kitchen.
  • Beer keeps being brewed! We hoping to create a loose community of homebrewers in Kentish Town. (We don’t live there, but it’s where David works and our church is and I sell bagels.) We often make a keg of beer for David’s monthly milestone party at work. There are a few other homebrewers in the office, who are helping us to brew a beer and do a demo at my Fleet Festival!
  • Zeke is getting a little bit fat, which he loves. (Us? Not so excited.) He’s managed to steal 10 bagels and various breads from the counter. He’s 10 now, so I think he’s earned it. It’s like doggy retirement, right?

    2017-04-17 12.35.59.jpg
    Zeke, the pensioner

Thank you for humoring (or ‘humouring’) our adventures and for cheering us on from near and far. London is feeling like home, while so many other places do, too.


3 thoughts on “One year later: It’s easy for the desert to be green”

  1. Love this. I resonate with your our connection to earth-places. I’m always in awe of each natural landscape I come into contact with.
    The desert is a powerful place. It’s so extremely harsh that all its inhabitants are tough as nails, with spikes and armor. When you are quiet with the desert you can feel it’s strength and just be amazed and greatful that it has allowed us to co-habitate. The Santa Cruz river where you were running, used to flow when my great-grandmother was a girl, I think about that often when I look at our dry riverbeds. It’s heartbreaking.

    I love the desert. I’m glad you felt the magic it holds.


  2. Oh! And the riverbeds may look dry, but deep down below the dry bed is the remnants of the river, still flowing underground. All the plants tap into this water to keep going in dry times.


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