Close your eyes and picture a desert. I am willing to bet most of you pictured a dry, dusty, desolate area seemingly devoid of life. While in some locations this is true, in the desert Southwest this is far from the truth.
The desert Southwest is a veiled beauty that requires a substantial time investment of observation. If one is just passing through always on the move you will just get a small taste of the visual and cognitive meal to come.
If you stop and rest, allow your eyes and mind to wander and question a plethora of doors will open to you. Your eyes may look upon a canyon and you notice plant life. If you take the time to pull back the veil and take a closer look you will begin to see individual plants that have a place, order, and sense of community. Scrub oak and cottonwood will crowd continuous water sources and will tell you a great spot to take your shoes off and get a drink. The wide spread pinion pine and juniper with their deep roots are prolific and provide shady nap spots every couple feet.
Next you notice the abundance of life. Not necessarily the large mammals most are used to, but abundant life on a smaller scale. You will see the lizard skitter across the slick rock, the desert cottontail scamper through the sage and more. If you are still and switch from your eyes to your ears you will hear the chirp and call of a variety of birds. If you are luck you will see a herd of mule deer, or group of bighorn sheep.
The next time you pass through a seemingly homogeneous place or one devoid of life, stop. Invest some time, ask questions, pull back the veil, use your senses and allow mother nature to reveal her beauty to you, not on your schedule but hers. What do you see?