Desert Love

A Slow Reveal

Story and Photo by Diana Hooley

The corner of earth I’ve lived on in Owyhee County for more than forty years is in the desert, south and west of Hammett. The word “desert” is oft-abused as metaphor. It implies starkness, yet I’ve had more than one spiritual reckoning in the desert: times when I took a walk in the sagebrush and felt a seismic shift in thinking and attitude. Many people realize that deserts have much to commend them. But not everyone.

“When you first came here, you didn’t like the looks of Idaho, did you?” I asked my elderly mother recently. She grew up back East, in the green Appalachians of West Virginia, a world and culture away from here. I moved her to southern Idaho about ten years ago to be closer to me. She now lives in a little house in Mountain Home.

“No, I thought it looked like an atom bomb had blasted all the trees away.” She laughed and shook her head. “There’s trees here, though, and farm fields along the Snake River. It’s not the Sahara.”

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Diana Hooley

About Diana Hooley

Diana Hooley spent several years as a professor at Idaho State University before returning to journalism and freelance writing. She has written recently for the Idaho Statesman and the Twin Falls Times-News as a guest commentator on environmental and agricultural issues. Visit her at

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