Right. That’s what Father Flannigan said in the movie “Boy’s Town” about James Cagney. Somehow that quote came to mind while I was photographing wildflowers in the ‘badlands’ today. Badlands. Hmmmm, what might that mean? They do evil things? Well, the land just stands there and holds up the rocks, flowers, etc., so it can’t do anything, really. Soul full of badness? Well, not really. Very few spiritual traditions give credit to the land for having a soul. It’s an inanimate object, after all. Bad for agriculture? Ah, we’re on to something. The desert and the badlands aren’t good for growing cash crops, that’s for sure. But does that qualify the land for the value judgment ‘bad?’ I don’t think so.

Ed Abbey, in Desert Solitaire disagreed with the idea that the desert was barren (another reference to cash crops, undoubtedly). He pointed out that like all land, the desert sustains life at 100% of its capacity. Usually, that means a few spare and sparse plants here and there. But this spring, it’s a riot of flowers and color. You’ll see the images of the desert alight with yellow flowers in two of the images below, then you’ll se the desert as it is usually perceived, and finally, a color photo of, well, not much. In my eyes, all of this is beautiful.

In my eyes, the desert is always good land. Hot, arid, inhospitable, treacherous to those who do stupid things, but beautiful and good. Here it is through my eyes:

A display of fecundity seldom seen in the desert. Thanks for a wet spring, Ma Nature!

Badlands with yellow flowers

"Badlands" with a riot of yellow

Factory Butte is one of my favorite land masses. It dominates the landscape and can be seen from miles away in all directions, sometimes surprisingly. It sits in the middle of a barren waste of dried mud and a few pathetic plants. Until this spring. Wow! Best view I’ve ever seen there.

Factory Butte

Factory Butte with a rare yellow surround.

On to the Temple of the Sun in northern Capitol Reef National Park. This foto presents a view of the desert that’s more along the lines of what one would expect.

Temple of the Sun

Temple of the Sun

The picture below is of a dried up puddle in a dry wash near Factory Butte. It’s color, not black and white, or desaturated. This is the way it looks. This sort of cool scene can be found again and again in slot canyons. Just don’t go looking for them when it’s going to rain.

Mud cracks, dry wash

Mud cracks, dry wash

More to follow.