Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Magic in the Mojave

J.K. Rowling recently announced that there is an American school of witchcraft and wizardry on the East Coast. However, after spending several months in the Mojave Desert of California/Nevada, I have started to suspect there may be another school for budding sorcerers out West–or at least a lot of magic. Here is a list of my reasons:

  1. The Mojave, like Hogwarts and Ilvermorny, is a remote place with lots of hard-for-Muggles-to-access locations. It would be easy to hide a giant castle here.
  2. Hermione mentioned in Goblet of Fire that Muggle electronic devices go haywire around Hogwarts because there’s too much magic in the air. Based on how difficult it can be to get cellphone, CB, or radio reception out in the middle of the desert, this seems par for the course.
  3. There are basilisks. Sort of. Say hello to the beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris)–affectionately nicknamed basilisk due to it’s Latin name. It may not venomous (or poisonous) and you would die from looking at it, but you definitely don’t want to touch those fuzzy little spines! Also, if you stare at a picture of its bright magenta blooms for too long, you’re likely to be seeing spots for a while.
  4. Okay, so there may not be “real” basilisks, but there are plenty of dangerous snakes. And a whole mess of unusual wildlife like Gila monsters, jackrabbits, and the formidable Desert Clicker. Who’s to say there aren’t any magical creatures (or plants) somewhere out there?
  5. And the spiders! My field partner and I found this one hillside in particular that was dotted with these funnel-shaped webs. The webs extended out from a small burrow where the spider would lie in wait until something got snagged. Little tiny Aragogs!

    Mini Aragog Lair

    A normal funnel-web spider or something more?

  6. A lot of the rock formations around look a little to much like sleeping dragons to be coincidence, if you ask me.
  7. The Mojave may not have any Whomping Willows, but I personally would never want to get on the wrong side of a Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia). They may look scrawny, but those yucca leaves are sharp!

    Joshua Tree Wonderland

    Welcome to Joshua Tree Wonderland.

  8. The creosote bushes have clicking guardians that get angry if you get too close. I know Google told me it was a grasshopper, but what with all the mounting magical evidence, I suspect bowtruckles.

    The Angry Creosote Buh

    Don’t let the calm exterior fool you. That creosote bush was not very happy with me!

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POSSIBILITY, USA: Beach Front Property

My mind loves to wander. I will be driving to work or pushing a shopping cart in the grocery store and suddenly I realize that I’ve been thinking about redwood trees or beluga whales or World War II or whether lions and bobcats have the same reaction to catnip as house cats. What about cheetahs? I’m often not sure how these particular thoughts came into my head or what I should do with them once they settle in, but I try to embrace them. Who knows which stray thought might lead to something bigger?
CATNIP: Friend to ALL feline kind?

CATNIP: Friend to ALL feline kind?

Lately, I have caught myself pondering Emily Dickinson‘s poem about possibility. Particularly the first line, “I dwell in Possibility.”
I guess I’d always imagined this version of “possibility” as Hogwarts with its endless rooms, moving staircases, secret passages, hidden chambers–even the Great Hall’s ceiling which had been bewitched to look like the sky above. Do you think J.K. Rowling had this poem in mind when she designed the school? [If anyone knows her, please ask, because I’d really like to know!] Come to think of it, Hogwarts even has its very own private lake which in turn holds its own underwater world of unknowns. Dwelling in Possibility sounded like the best situation ever, I mean what kid in the Harry Potter Generation didn’t want to go to Hogwarts?
Tie-Dye/Bleach homage to the Battle of Hogwarts which I made for the opening night of Deathly Hallows Part II.

Tie-Dye/Bleach homage to the Battle of Hogwarts which I made for the opening night of Deathly Hallows Part II

Lately, though, I’ve started to view “dwelling in possibility” from a very different perspective. Since graduating from college three years ago, I have dwelt in nothing but possibility. I have hopped from temporary employment to temporary employment, from potential career path to potential career path, from small town to small city.
I have no idea what my life will look like one year from today. Will I have a full time job? Will I have my own apartment? Will I be living in the same city? The same state? I can’t picture it.
I always thought living in Possibility would be freedom, but in reality I have found it utterly terrifying. Well, sometimes, that is. True, the financial burden is daunting. Sure, it’s difficult to see all my friends coupling up and settling down with families of their own. Yes, it would be nice to have a few certainties or definitive life goals to direct myself toward. I would definitely like to answer the inevitable variations of “What are you doing with your life?” with a single sentence. And yet.
I find there is still some magic left for me in Possibility. I enjoy the mystery of what lies a few months down the road or the future acquaintance that could change the course of everything. I was once asked by a job interviewer, “What drives you?” A question to which he felt I didn’t have a satisfactory answer. The truth is, the potential energy of “what if?” is what keeps me going. I’m not quite ready to be completely pinned down and defined. I am not ready for my life choices to fit in a single sentence. That’s why I am wanderlost (at least for now).