Since I arrived in Palm Springs last week, I have mostly been getting accustomed to my home for the next five months. This place is a little different from my last home in central Illinois. We don’t really have desert oases there. We don’t have palm trees, palo verde, mesquite, or cacti of any kind. And we definitely don’t have mountains, or for that matter anything resembling change in elevation. We also don’t have warm weather in March, as everyone points out as soon as they hear where I’m from. But trust me: looking to the horizon and seeing mountains and cacti instead of an endless plain of corn and soybean is the bigger leap.
My strategy for acclimating has been to gleefully throw myself into work. Which is easy when you’re working outdoors in an incredible desert oasis. After getting to play tourist for a day, we started what will be my main focus for the next few months: planting young plants in a patch of desert still recovering from the removal of tamarisk a few years ago. The tamarisk, invasive to most of the southwest, is a terrible water hog, and aggressively outcompetes native plants. This, combined with years of drought, threatens the health of the oasis communities. But the desert is slowly since the removal of the tamarisk, and we’re hoping to help it along by planting some 200 seedlings over the next few months. This is moderately demanding work, so we’re getting it out of the way before I learn out what summer in the desert is like.
But that heat is a ways away. At the moment, I can happily focus on learning my local plant identification, and enjoy springtime in the desert, and getting to work on such an incredible project.