Went to get my eyebrows done today. (No, ye of little faith, it's not the first time since I wrote Eyebrows & Mountains.) The scenery on the drive to my now faraway esthetician had its usual effect on me, but today I noticed more - observationally and psychologically.
I started out cranky today. No particular reason; just a slightly annoying tax bill, a screw-up by the book distributor (nothing unusual there - I'm like a beaten dog with this outfit; since they have yet to get a single thing right on the first try, I now cringingly await fresh disaster every time I have to deal with them), and the inevitable by-Thursday accumulation of crap I'll have to follow up on. But as I drove north, I felt my mood lighten. This time, I had Schubert's Ninth on the CD player - for my money, the best first movement ever. My eyes filled up with the sights that continue to make me feel as if I'm living on permanent vacation, and just like the drops of washer fluid on my windshield, my crankiness evaporated into the dry, hot air.
I love the blue sky littered with planes glinting in the sun as they take off over the Strip. I love the utterly non-Midwestern names of the streets: Durango, Sunset, Buffalo, Rainbow, Flamingo, Warm Springs, Silverado Ranch, Paradise. I love the roadside gravel, sometimes dark rose-pink, sometimes white pearl, sometimes silver-gray and slate, sometimes a glistening combination of all these colors. I love the office parks with their proliferation of title companies, nutrition centers and coffee shops. I love the giant inflatable duck wearing sunglasses and a self-satisfied expression who sits atop a spa store in a concrete roof square that's probably HVAC-related but makes a great facsimile of a spa, the duck's bright yellow body and orange limbs positioned exactly the way a duck-shaped human would look sitting in a spa enjoying the good life. (All he lacks is a good cigar.) I love the dry, dusty gouged holes in the ground where new housing will go up, and the ugly tract housing that does go up, along the highway. I love the deep, rich colors of the building materials they use out here: a taupe that looks exactly like velvety suede, terracotta, red, golden beige, ivory, matte green, dusty ocean blue. I love the scrubbiness and the lack of green flora. And, most of all, I love the mountains that ring it all, shading from greenish-tan to that Sedona red-brown to the deepest mink and sable, and finally to Mt. Charleston's silver crown of snow (even as it is almost 90 degrees in the valley). Glorious, just glorious.