Lessons from the desert

Departments - Outlook

April 26, 2016

Nature has this extraordinary way of bringing us back to Earth (no pun intended) and reconnecting us with what’s important. On a recent trip to Death Valley National Park, I found myself pushed to extremes as we hiked through intense heat, sun and rough terrain in search of breathtaking views, unusual desert creatures and plants, and almost Martian-like landscapes. It was a humbling experience that reminded me of a few life lessons that are worth keeping in mind in stressful or challenging times, whether you’re traipsing through the dry channels of an ancient waterfall or doing your best to keep your cool through one of the busiest times of the year at your greenhouse.

Drink plenty of water. This might seem obvious, but too often we forget this simple, yet very beneficial, advice. Drinking enough water helps keep your body running smoothly — which in turn will help to make you feel better and maintain a better attitude through stressful times.

Prepare adequately and pace yourself. Death Valley’s often rough terrain, varying altitudes, sky-high temperatures and blazing sun can make carrying out everyday tasks difficult and slow. But by preparing yourself mentally and physically beforehand, wearing appropriate clothing and footwear, and taking things one step (literally) at a time, the level of difficulty won’t be quite as high. The same goes for your greenhouse operation. What could you do during slower times to facilitate smooth operations during peak season?

Learn to appreciate the little things. In an arid landscape where only the tough survive, seeing a brightly colored desert flower or witnessing a brilliant mountain sunset provides welcome visual relief to the starkness of the rocks, sand and salt. Take a few moments to appreciate when an employee goes above and beyond or simply when production goes as planned.

Know that this too shall pass. In October 2015, Death Valley experienced devastating flooding that left a path of destruction in its wake. The amount of rain that fell over a few hours was a “1,000-year rainfall event” for the area around the still-closed Scotty’s Castle, according to the park, and temporarily turned the salt flats of Badwater Basin back into a lake. However, the three storms that collectively deposited more than 3 inches of rain in October (compared to an average yearly rainfall of about 2.5 inches), allowed for an incredible “super bloom” this spring. During this super bloom, the desert’s wildflower seeds, some of which had been dormant since before the most recent super blooms (they occur about every 10 years) burst into flower and provided a spectacular show to all who visited. So when stress levels are high and disaster seems to lurk at every turn, have faith in your strength to push through it and find your own super bloom in the end.

Happy trails!

Karen E. Varga, Editor


216-393-0290 | Twitter: @Karen_GIE