The Call of the Desert

I have formed the habit, in recent months, of roaming the world's deserts online, using Google Maps, Google Earth's simpler, in-browser cousin.  I turn on Terrain and Photos, and search for desolate vistas that people have uploaded with Panoramio.  This image of La Sierrita Ojinaga in Chihuahua, Mexico,  was uploaded by rrca8.  There is something about deserts that soothes my soul.

I lived on the edges of the desert in the '80's, in Albuquerque and Austin.  There are only a few livings to be had in the desert:  rancher, storekeeper, scientist, artist, tour guide, hermit.  There is not much call for a librarian in the desert.

Lately, my viewing has narrowed to a couple of areas on the edge of the great Chihuahan Desert:  the "boot-heel" of New Mexico and Southwest Texas, around Alpine.  R. and I camped in the Davis Mountains one night  in 1981 on our way to California.

It was a happy coincidence, searching for titles for a "Cozy Mysteries" display, to discover Allana Martin's Texana Jones Mystery, Death of a Saint Maker, set in Presidio County, Texas.  Martin draws a fine portrait of life in the border country near the Texas Big Bend.  Texana Jones runs a trading post, and is married to a veterinarian.

A bonus, for me, is that she is a Catholic.  As a nervous passenger in a light plane, she says a Hail Mary.  She goes to Mass.
 Nothing much happened on Sunday.  I went to Mass, prompting a remark from Clay that my unaccustomed piety wouldn't impress the watchers from the DEA.  I laughed at the joke, but my purpose was serious.  When the world closes in, nothing expands the horizon like reflections on eternity.
She burns a candle to St. Jude.  It might not seem like a big deal, but evidences of religious faith  are rare in mainstream fiction.  Yes, "Christian Fiction" has its own genre now, but how often, outside that genre, does anyone routinely go to church?

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