"I like it. I'm not sure why, but I like it here."
"Do you? . . . You must have guessed that I love the desert. This desert. Even in winter, and the three weeks of jungle after the rains stop and before the sun gets a good hold again."
I first read The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley when I was about twelve. At the time, I was living in the green, humid, flat Midwest. The mountainous desert setting of this novel seemed as exotic as the face of the moon. Now, Tucson is my home, and McKinley's Damar feels intimately familiar. The heat, the dust, and the barren landscape all feel just like the Sonoran desert.
In the novel, Harry Crewe goes from the cool, green land of her birth to hot and dusty Damar. To her surprise, she falls in love with her new home.
Though her position isn't a popular one--most of the people at the fort where she lives despise the desert and can't wait to leave--Harry finds other people who feel at home in Damar's extreme landscape. Even when she's kidnapped by the Hill-King and taken away from everything she knows, her love for the land never wavers. This helps her adapt to her new life, and an unexpected destiny.
The novel is a fantasy classic. I must have read it twenty times as a teenager, but I haven't picked it up in years. Recently, I loaded the audiobook onto my iPod through our new OneClickDigital service. As I listened, I realized that I'd somehow forgotten how much Harry's love of the land impacts the novel. But I recognized her feelings for Damar, because I'd experienced them myself upon first moving to Tucson as an adult.
Which makes me wonder . . . how much of my love for Arizona comes from Harry's love for Damar?