I'm no longer a newcomer. This is the third anniversary of my move to Hesperia. I've settled in; perhaps for the rest of my life. So how did a transplanted city girl seeking a quasi ranch lifestyle, who initially saw Hesperia as a resort, have her expectations morphed?

The air and water are clear. The sky is beautiful blue and sunsets glorious. The white puffy clouds rushing across the sky carried along in the upper currents remind me of the Kona Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii. The winds could be Hawaiian too. Like the Kohala Winds, they rip up out of nowhere, roaring as they suddenly rise to bend, break or take everything in their path.

Tropical temperatures are similar to ours if you remember to stay indoors during most of the summer. What we lack in rainfall and humidity we gain in fewer bad hair days and less days in winter when, like the mountains that surround us, we might be layered in snow.

I love the sound of the horses nearby and of watching their young riders exercising them on country roads. I'm encouraged that trails are preserved for equestrian use.

We can see for miles. All right, so it isn't the sea we see it's miles and miles of what some would call wasteland but I view this openness as peaceful beauty.

I had expected things to move more slowly here. In some ways it is slower. It takes more time to get a prescription filled or dry-cleaning back but that's not what I had in mind.

I have not seen a single Mojave tortoise in the last 1,095 days. Not too long ago we saw many of their burrow habitats. We would stop to allow some to cross our paths. Where did they all go? They only travel two miles from home during their entire lives.

Our First District Supervisor said they are disappearing because they have a virus. I suppose that's like catching a cold and some day they will get well and come back out to play in the sand.
That same supervisor also equates more options for land with putting more of it into the hands of developers, and denying that development contributes to the loss of the Tortoise.

I would have attributed the demise of our uniquely endowed ancient desert dwellers on errant dirt bikers who think off-road means off all roads while daring to scar the open land with tire tracks as capriciously as if they were sailing on the open seas.

Or I would have blamed the bulldozers who have city permission to knock-down and drag-out all native plants and indigenous living creatures in their paths to line their pocketbooks in a way that is not dissimilar to the kind of progress described in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and reminiscent of first lines of "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell. "They paved paradise and put in a parking lot."

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the California Juniper and Joshua Tree plant associations that set Hesperia apart from the neighboring terrain too are in danger. The people of Hesperia love the Joshua Tree or they would not have chosen it as the symbol for the city. Some Joshua's are transplanted but what about saving them all? We have the room. And what about saving the Junipers too? Many of these are a hundred years old and except for the noble experiment going on at Oak Hills Nursery you can't grow these plants from seeds.

I saw a huge Joshua Tree neighbor lying alone along the side of the road like a fallen soldier. It didn't make it into spring when it's sword-like leaves could have been a home for birding. It gave it's life to a housing tract that sold homes to young people who will raise nice families; who if given the choice, might have enjoyed having it or one just like it left on their property.

Every fallen Joshua will never again provide the shade necessary for a next generation tree to grow. Properly nurtured by the shade of its parent a new Joshua would grow to 15 - 20 feet ... but not in our lifetime.