When you hear the word “desert”, what image does your mind conjure up?
Is it of endless sand dunes such as those of Rub’ al Khali (“Empty quarter”) of Saudi Arabia?
Or is if of something a little less desolate?
This week at Carrot Ranch Communications, Charli Mills writes about a desert close to where she is staying in her temporary, though seemingly endless, state of imposed homelessness.
The desert Charli describes, in eastern Washington, is “flat and prickly” with “trees (that) are better described as shrubs and any ground cover growing out of the black sand has thorns.” She describes the “sagebrush with soft leaves of silvery blue and twisting trunks of brittle gray bark.” The images created by these descriptions is vastly different from those of endless sand dunes.
A desert is usually described as an arid area where there is little rainfall and conditions do not favour plant and animal life. As much as one third of the earth’s land surface is arid or semi-arid. This is also true of mainland Australia with its ten named deserts which mostly lie in the centre.
Last year I was fortunate to visit Uluru and Kata Tjuta which are in semi-arid areas surrounded by desert in Central Australia. I have put together some images of the area to show the variation that occurs in the semi-arid landscape.
Thinking of the word “desert” (noun – arid area) also brings to mind its heteronym “desert” (verb – leave), which has its own homonym meaning deserved e.g.” just deserts” and homophone “dessert”. These words are often confused by both readers and writers with pronunciation and spelling indistinguishable out of context.
I have combined these different meanings to respond to Charli’s flash fiction challenge to in 99 words (no more, no less) write about a surprise from a desert. While not specifically about education, I also acknowledge the power of a teacher’s influence.
They reminded her constantly what an inconvenience she was; that she’d never be anything; that she was simply trash like the one who birthed, and dumped her. Somehow she’d never believed them: their truth was not hers. She’d shielded her inner core with a shell over which their words flowed but could not penetrate. Not caring whether they ever knew, she’d prove them wrong. A favourite teacher inspired an interest in food science. As soon as possible she escaped to apprentice with master chef Jules. After years of determination and hard work, she opened her own patisserie “Just Desserts”.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.