The Rugged Life

29 palms sunset

Life in the desert is unique. The sunsets turn the mountains to a perfect plum. There are more stars than anyone could count. Coyotes stroll through the back yard at dawn; black widow spiders spin webs in doorways, and rattlesnakes are seen crossing sidewalks. This rough region is an fun place to raise adventurous children.

Our street is a quarter mile long cul-de-sac and filled with young kids. My oldest son is five and he and the other boys love to play in the sand and on jungle gyms. Someone in the neighborhood recently had a birthday and the guests received creepy-crawly things as party favors—perfect for all our critter-loving kids.

“I’ve got this end,” I say as I lift the front of the crib while my friend grabs a Ziplock bag filled with hardware and picks up the back. We are moving it across the street from her house to mine.  The wind shifts and a spray of dust lifts to the air.

“Lookout Mom!” my son shouts as he tosses a rubber snake in front of me.


 “Oh no,” I feign as I hop away from the rubber object.

We begin to carry the crib but stop mid street when her son steps towards her holding a plastic grasshopper. “Oh my,” she exclaims and puts her hand over her chest in mock fear.

plastic grasshopper

The boys run away giggling.

“Okay, go.” We start to move again.

We climb up the slightly sloped driveway and begin to angle towards the side wall of the garage when my two year old runs up to me and tugs at my shorts. “Arrgg,” he screams as he holds out his hand to display a black spider ring.

spider ring

“Oh, honey, don’t scare me like that!”

He laughs and runs down the driveway towards the other kids.

My garage is used for storage and has never seen a car. There are boxes of papers and photos, bikes and strollers, and lots of toys. I look down to step around some GI Joes and happy meal toys.

“That’s fake. Right?” I ask as we are about to set the crib down.


“There,” I point to the concrete.

“Yeah. Look.”

Doubt flutters across my face as my friend bends down to pick up the translucent plastic arachnid sitting in the cleared area. The baggie, still in her hand, brushes the top of the scorpion and it comes to life, arching its back and snapping its pincers. Its eight legs propel it quickly as it races towards us.


We drop the crib and run, our screams mixed with fits of giggles. Life in the desert is unique and I now realize how life-like those party favors really are.

alison with gun
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