“I’d forgotten how enlivening it could feel, seeing clearly and far. Aridity frees light.

It also unleashes grandeur. The earth here wasn’t cloaked in forest, nor draped in green.

Desert beauty was “sublime” in the way that the romantic poets had used the word

– not peaceful dales but rugged mountain faces,

not reassuring but daunting nature,

the earth’s skin and haunches, its spines and angles arching prehistorically in sunlight.”