Without water, how can there be plants? But without plants, there is no water. It takes roots to hold moisture in the soil, and the ground cover of leaves to stop the sun from stealing every last drop away.
When the plants have been eaten by livestock, when the deep rooted ones have been taken out for the sake of shallow rooting food crops… the soil dies. The desert grows. Hunger follows.
How do you make life where life has been destroyed? How do you dream a desert back to life?
So you dig, making places that will hold the water for a while, when it does come. And you plant the toughest trees you know of, asking their roots to cling hard, and to somehow, against all the odds, find life in this barren place. You cover the ground with whatever organic material you can find, you keep the sun off where you can.
Trees won’t be burned by your piss. The outpourings of your own body become a precious resource. You water as best you can. You think about every drop of moisture, every use and reuse.
You wait for the rain, and you pray to whatever gods watch over trees that they will live long enough. Your dreams are green. Your heart yearns for greenness. Your lips are cracked from the lack of it.
The sky is relentless. The whole world seems broken.
You ask the tree roots to hold you, to hold the rain, to hold the soil, to hold the pieces of the broken world and mend it somehow.
(Art by Dr Abbey – Guardian of the West. Text by me, based on reality as best I understand it.)