TREKKING MILE AFTER MILE along the salt flats, I'm on the final leg crossing the Great Basin -- that landlocked basin that extends from the Sierras to the Rockies with no connection to the oceans. All precipitation that falls here either evaporates, sinks into the ground, or flows into saline lakes. As a result, the natural flora and wildlife are sparse and the environment is barren unlike anywhere else. Its white crystalline mineral extends to the horizon in every direction with no living thing in sight -- as if Mother Nature had erased everything, ready to begin again.
In the middle of this sterile environment there's a strange sculpture beside the road titled "Metaphor, The Tree of Utah." The Tree is a 87' tall sculpture poking up from the desert, a square 'trunk' holding six colorful spheres and several broken spheres scattered on the ground. The mosaic tiles that cover the sculpture were crafted from Utah's native geologic minerals. Stangely, there's no exit ramp, no parking, and a fence surrounding the artwork, so passing travelers are expected to notice it while moving along at freeway speeds.
So what does this metaphor imply? Metaphors compare unrelated things that share common characteristics ("All the world’s a stage"). So I believe it's the common beauty of the natural white salt flats and the colorful leaves of the lone tree -- both creations of nature -- that we are invited to enjoy. Perhaps, in this Mormon state, it compares the desert to the "Tree of Life" as in the Garden of Eden. (Or perhaps it's merely a mirage!) At least, that works for me!
Week 10, Miles 681