Spring is well upon us and Easter is now behind us. An annual restlessness begins to settle in my bones. It comes with the spring winds. It comes with the tumbleweed season. When the winds pick up the tumbleweeds race, in numbers too many to count, across the desert floor stopping only when a fence line traps them. They pile up like a colony of other-worldly beings, jostling for position, forever quivering in the wind, and attaching to each other, creating an insurmountable mountain of dried thistle.
Recently, I discovered that the tumbleweed or Russian thistle, which is symbolic of the West and seems to appear in every western movie, is not native to the West. It originated on the tundra in the Ural Mountains of Russia and didn't appear in the US until the late 1870's. Apparently their seeds were imported here by mistake with some flax seed by immigrant Ukrainian farmers in South Dakota. By 1900, it was in almost every western state and had spread all the way to the Pacific ocean. Rolling in the wind is how they spread their seeds. How very efficient and how very invasive.
The news, the other night, showed thousands of them hugging a fence that runs parallel to Interstate 40 here in New Mexico for miles. I, myself, gathered three large trash bags of them just the other morning after a particularly windy night. There is something creepy about this annual migration of these dead, skeletal weeds, and yet, awesome at the same time.
Pat Greenwell is an artist. A painter and sometimes poet, he has been searching the New Mexico desert for a couple of years now, looking for lost possibilities and probable intentions.
"...mostly stream-of-consciousness stuff, you know...