Love is a strange thing, I realize as sweat drips down my back and stomach and thighs in the sweltering sunlight. Only for love would I do this to myself, hiking for hours and hours and hours, gazing out at the vast reddish-orange canyons around me. Poets write about lush flora and the sparkling water from which it springs. But nothing, nothing can match the unfathomable splendor around me, and I wonder at how the parched grounds dotted with cacti on the furthest plains never fail to leave me breathless. I inhale the beauty, miles and miles of dry, cracked sand and clay kissed by the sun. I’m not in love with a person, no. I’m in love with these brilliant, lifeless lands, the heat that presses slowly, persistently into every inch of my skin, the wild freedom and solitude that envelops me from each and every direction, further than the eye can see.