Home is the Desert

"To know the desert, one must walk in it," Ann Woodin once said. "It is then...we find ourselves in the comforting company of other living and warm-blooded creatures."

Woodin, who passed away in April at the age of 91, knew something about walking among desert creatures because she, rather famously, had a house full of them. The wife of an early director of the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Woodin raised her young family in the remote desert west of Tucson in the early 1950s. She recorded her adventures with the local flora and fauna in Home Is the Desert, now a classic of southwestern literature.

Wolves, javelinas, and the occasional screech owl were regular guests in the Woodin household, and snakes and tarantulas were as welcome as the intoxicating scent of night-blooming cereus. The author's family photos--bobcats and little boys napping together, for example, and a baby coatimundi entertaining a baby human--are extraordinary. Perhaps most importantly, Woodin's reflections on our place in this fragile desert landscape are as fresh and provocative today as they were more than 50 years ago, when the book was first published. This is a tale told with equal parts wonderment, keen observation, and humor, and it is timeless.