Woke this morning to yet another forecast for "abundant sunshine." The sky was blue and cloudless, the mountains were clear and bright. It was 75 degrees, with just enough breeze to ruffle the fronds of the palm trees and the feathers of the finches hanging on the feeder.
A perfect almost-spring day.
It isn't always sunny in Las Vegas. But it is most days, so often that it's sometimes hard to remember which season you're in -- until you step outside. Temps can dip into the 20s in winter and soar to 120 in summer. Freeze or fry, there's no mistaking it.
Then there's the wind. It comes roaring across the desert churning enormous clouds of dust that obliterate the mountains and coat everything in sight -- including me, if I venture out -- with what looks like a thin layer of rawhide.
Last week on recycling day we put the bins on the curb as usual the night before. By morning, before the recycling truck showed up, the wind started gusting to more than 50 mph.
If I'd had a goat, I would have gone out and tied it down. Instead, I checked on the bins and found them two houses up the street against a retaining wall -- empty. I hate to think where their contents ended up.
I pictured somebody in Texas or Ohio or Florida, waking up to a yard full of Diet Coke cans and Las Vegas Review-Journal newspapers. If that somebody was you, I am sorry.
But a day like today makes me forget bone-chilling winters and blood-boiling summers and tie-down-your goat winds. It's not quite spring, just a promise of it. Sometimes a promise is enough.
As a child in the South, I loved to spend spring break with my grandmother on her farm.
"The dogwoods are blooming," she'd say. "Let's go find them."
And so we'd go, the two of us, an old mountain woman and her citified granddaughter, one leading the way, the other trotting to keep up. You could not out-walk that woman.
We always found the dogwoods. She knew exactly where to look. We'd gather long branches, snowy white and sunset pink, to take home and arrange in a gallon milk jug, along with wild rhododendron, peach azaleas and purple iris, whatever we found in bloom.
There were also things that found us -- chiggers and ticks and yellow jackets and briars.
"Beauty," she'd say, dabbing liniment on my welts, "often comes with a price. But you have to keep looking for it."
She taught me to look for beauty in everything, in trees and leaves and rocks and birds; in storm clouds and moonsets and the play of light on the mountains; in the roll of thunder, the sigh of the wind and the poetry of the Psalms.
When I grew up and left the South, I took her lessons with me. I looked for beauty and it found me: On the coast of California, where my children were born; on the river in Yosemite where we camped; in the hospital where their dad battled cancer; in the swells of the bay where we scattered his ashes; in the love of family, the faithfulness of friends and the kindnesses of strangers.
I'm in a new season now, one I've not seen before: Remarried, relocated, reinventing myself.
These days I look for beauty in the desert: In the quail chicks and jack rabbits that graze in my yard; in the yucca that blooms by the pool; in the notes my husband plays on his guitar; in the singing of coyotes and the smear of lipstick sunsets; in messages from my children and photos of my grandchildren and in all sorts of interesting folks I meet at Trader Joe's.
Seasons change and we change with them. But in every season, every day, every place we look for it, beauty is blooming.
Where will it find you?
(Sharon Randall can be contacted at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson, NV 89077 or at www.sharonrandall.com.)