Supposedly, I live in a “high desert” climate. Well, I do live in a high desert climate–but you sure wouldn’t know it this year. I just pulled up an article from January, stating that Boise had (already) seen more snow-so-far than any year since 1892, when they started keeping records. And we kept getting more snow—a lot of it—after that.
Now the temperatures have started warming up, and we’re all eyeing that snowpack warily. The water-management powers-that-be are letting immense amounts of water out of the reservoir just upriver from Boise, in anticipation of some massive runoff in the upcoming weeks. (If they don’t let it out now and the reservoir overfills, they say, they’ll lose any control they might have had over the river level.)
Boise’s “Green Belt” path that runs through town along the river (and along the edge of our RV park) is largely underwater already, and they’ll be raising the river more this week. At least we’re on wheels, we joke, eyeing the river-level. If the river reaches us, we hitch up and go!
Ah, life in the desert.
We bought our three-year hunting-and-fishing licenses a few weeks ago (our anniversary present to each other), but the nearby fishing dock is entirely underwater, and the river is running too fast for fly-fishing. We’d need nMoses right now to walk the Green Belt.
Since our own desert isn’t very desert-y at the moment, I’ve been visiting another desert in my “year-of-travelogues” reading… Bruce Feiler’s Walking the Bible is a narrative of visiting the ground on which the first five books of the Old Testament took place, and it’s striking how big a role the desert plays in the author’s understanding of the Bible itself.
I think Abraham appeals to me because he followed a call to travel. As Feiler writes, “He was a traveler, called by some voice not entirely clear that said: Go, head to this land, walk along this route, and trust what you will find.” For whatever reason (hmm, look at my blog title) I can relate to that. If Abraham lived now, he’d be an RV-er.
I re-read those early Bible books in tandem with Feiler’s travels, and enjoyed vicariously his own discovery:
It had never occurred to me that the story was so concrete, so connected to the ground. To here. To now… In the Middle East, I realized, the Bible is not some abstraction, nor some book gathering dust. It’s a living, breathing entity unencumbered by the sterilization of time. If anything, it’s an ongoing narrative: stories that begin in the sand, get entrenched in stone, pass down through families, and play themselves out in the lives of residents and visitors who traverse its lines nearly five thousand years after they were first etched into memory. That was the Bible I wanted to know, and almost immediately I realized that the only way to find it was to walk along those lines myself. I would take this ancient book, the embodiment of old-fashioned knowledge, and approach it with contemporary methods of learning–traveling, talking, experiencing.
Feiler consults with Biblical and cultural experts along the way, as well as the people who live in the landscape—traveling among many of the recognized sites that can be pinpointed in the Bible, and speculating on those that are uncertain, and reading from the Bible on the sites where various stories happened. It’s something I’d like to do myself, but he’s done it for us—and the price of the book is certainly cheaper than the trip would be.
And that, in a nutshell, is probably why I’m enjoying my travelogues. I can’t go to all these places, or have all these experiences, this year… But in a small way, I can. I’ll walk out to enjoy my own flooded desert, and come back to read about someone else’s.