Cactus Bllom by Dave Diegelman
Spring brings unusual surprises in the desert. Shortly after moving to Southern Utah a few years I was working a tedious office job that only gave me two days off every couple of weeks. Longing to make the best out of those days, I set out to obtain my Utah driver’s license, register my car and go mountain bike riding all on the same day. In my simply understanding I divided them up into two categories; one was a set of clerical pestilences and the other nourishment for my soul. Both were crucial.
My wife woke me up for an alpine start around 7am and reminded me how critical it was that I get my act in gear since my license was due to expire shortly. She’s really good at playing the drill sergeant and it reminded me of preparing to do what rock climbers call a grade V in a day. A grade V is a climb that normally takes two days but if your skills are moderately honed you can pull it off in a day with adequate preparation and skills. I knew it was possible especially since I hate to fail.
After gathering every possible document to accomplish the task, I set out totally focused. First stop, DMV for the vehicle registration. The first line granted me access to a receptionist who greeted all with a warm smile and calmly explained the procedure that each bewildered visitor would need to go to next. Her half glasses rested upon the tip of her nose as she gently pulled my pile towards her. She dipped her fingers into a little pink sponge and rifled through my papers. She took off her glasses and looked at me. “Um, you don’t seem to have your safety inspection here. Do you have any it with you?” She must have seen the blood drain from my face, because she quickly said, “There’s a Jiffy Lube on Sunset in Santa Clara. It also looks like you will need a more current copy of your insurance since this one expired yesterday.”
I sigh, knowing it’s about thirty minutes away but my mantra for the day was, “No big deal…I can do this.” “Thanks,” I said, managing a smile. “I won’t be long.”
I returned home and dug through every place I could think of. Finally, resorting to the help of my wife on the phone, I locate the current proof of insurance and gleefully set out for the inspection twenty miles away. Luckily, the Jiffy Lube is near a Starbucks, which are few and far between around these parts and I realized that I had forgotten perhaps the most important ingredient in a successful plan: caffeine.
An hour and a half later the receptionist at the DMV had changed guard and the new one asked if I was also going to license plates as well. “Yes” I replied, “that’s next on my list.” She informed me that I might want to take a number here and then head over to the office across the street and get a number there as well to speed things up so I didn’t have to wait as long. Great plan!
After a fifteen-minute wait (you know, where you’re watching all the clerks passively milling around with no client’s at their window shuffling through papers but never looking up to invite the next guest to their counter), it was my turn. “I just got back from lunch and the mou’ans over by Zions were so pretty today” she mentioned. The dropping of the “t” in mountains and the added “s” in Zion led me to believe that she grew up around these parts. After several false starts and a long personal call about what type of blouse she would be wearing at some upcoming social event, the clerk finally hands over my shiny new plates. It’s now about 1pm and I’ve got it made. One more quick stop with my pre-drawn ticket across the street and I’m up to Gooseberry Mesa for one of the most glorious rides on this planet. Upon entering the licensing building, I sadly note that my pre-drawn number has just passed. Again, no bid deal…“I can do this!” I draw my new number that’s only ten away from the current one. I count my blessings as this could be a California DMV with hundreds in front of me (It’s so bad there; they rent cots and offer weekly rates!).
Ten minutes go by, and no numbers get called. Then fifteen more go by, the same thing. Then after twenty minutes they slowly start creeping toward my number. Finally it’ my shot. We go through all the necessary paperwork only to be thwarted by one small detail. “Do you have your Social Security card?” she politely asks.
“Social…uh…security…uh…I know my number,” I pleaded, but it was no use. Before I could finish the sentence she handed me a study guide with the address of the Social Security office (again, just fifteen miles away).
It’s now 3 O’clock. I can do this, I can do this, I can do this… besides I can pick up a taco at Irmita’s on the way back and still have time for a ride. All I have to do is get back by 4pm when the office gives its last test.
Another short, but painful wait at the SS office. All goes smoothly (including the much-needed taco stop) and I’m back at 3:40. Again the wait, but victory is in the air: it’s 3:55 and my number is called. The woman at the counter is asking questions and this time I’m on it, producing document after document as requested. She clears her throat and adjusts the crooked bow holding together the top of her chartreuse blouse, and then looks through my papers for a second time. “I don’t see your proof of residency.” I feel a trickle of sweat go down my face. My stomach gurgles from the taco, which I now realize was way too spicy. I look down at the floor and shake my head slowly and then look back up at her. Her bow is crooked again but she smiles, looking as patient and polite as if she were welcoming me to a fine restaurant or offering me free food samples at Costco.
Now for those of you reading this I know what you’re thinking, “this guy’s an idiot…EVERYONE knows you have to bring a utility bill or two to show residency to get a driver’s license.” A small smirk comes over my face as I reach into my folder of utility bills and mortgage statements. In my brilliant planning I brought a triple redundancy of such documents just in case. Again the ever-so-polite-civil-servant-voice she informs me that they need to be current…within the past sixty days. Mine are…uh…slightly older. “Besides,” she says, “we don’t offer the test after 4pm and it’s now 4.”
I snatched the papers from her hands, scrapping my good manners and my mantra. Outside, thunderstorms are hovering over my riding areas. This pity party is a grand banquet in my brooding mind. The world is conspiring against me. I don’t have another shot for a day off for two weeks.
Soon my lovely wife calls full of cheer. “All done?” she asks. I instantly attempt to subdue her joy with my pouting as I recounted the day, “I give up! I’ve been at this all day and still I’m no closer to getting my license. What a waste of time, I should have just gone riding to start with because now it’s too stormy to ride.”
There was a short, but powerful silence. My own words of frustration were cutting through me like a knife through butter on a warm day. I didn’t mean to vent everything out and certainly not on her. She calmly replied, “well the light on Zion with the black thunderheads above is amazing. You should take Nokie (our Siberian Husky) for a walk around the neighborhood before it’s too late.”
As much as I wanted to continue my private pity-banquet, I reluctantly decide the walk would be best for Nokie. I grab my Nikon and head towards her with a leash. She’s dancing with joy, elated that we are going for a walk. Now I’m convinced that God put dogs in our lives just to show us how to love unconditionally. We strolled up the hills near our home and were treated to one of the finest display of Spring that I’ve ever witnessed. The burden of the day was gently swept away and soon I was like a kid in a candy store capturing the raw beauty around me with my camera.
Sometimes God has other plans for our lives than what we set out to accomplish. The images below were captured. I was very grateful that day I failed.
Zion Evening by Dave Diegelman
Desert Blooms by Dave Diegelman
More flora and fauna images.