There is a children's book, Alejandro's Gift by Richard E. Albert, that we read to the kids when they were still under three feet tall. In the book, Alejandro creates an oasis with a vegetable garden and a little water. The old gentleman is a bit lonely, but a less so now that he can marvel at the animals that parade to his desert hideaway.
My wife and I have always joked about having such an oasis, miles from the concrete and helter-skelter world. Here in Tucson, we're only about 50 feet from asphalt, but the water is offered, and the desert creatures do come. Yesterday a bobcat sniffing around. This morning mule deer above the arroyo. Every afternoon a herd of javelina, cooling off beneath the shade of mesquite and Palo Verde.
In the world that we actually live in--the land of working adults--we are attracted to a different kind of oasis. Basically, any place with air conditioning. It's summer. The snowbirds and students are gone. Tourists have flown north. The locals hunker down. Some say it's their favorite time of year. Last weekend we visited the Lost Barrio shops on South Park, and in the store pictured the owner warned us that the swamp cooler had taken a turn for the worse. Still, it felt wonderful. Amidst 10,000 items of Mexican decor, we were the only customers. The interior was dark, but glowed from the collective light of a hundred pig-skin lamp shades, with their signature pin-pricked surfaces that look like cascading galaxies.
If I'm not mistaken, Richard Albert published Alejandro's Gift when he was in his early eighties. I suspect he's no longer with us, but perhaps one morning we'll see him trailing the deer, snakes, wild cats, and peccaries on Saller Ridge, and we'll wave hello.