The last week of December was especially cold here in the desert. Still, the 1.6 million visitors who pass through the little town of Joshua Tree were well-bundled up as they packed the streets, shops, shows, farmer’s market, and local restaurants over the winter break.
Over the holidays, I worked at business owner Jenny Qaqundah’s GRATEFUL DESERT HERB SHOPPE AND ECO-MARKET, which was an awesome retail experience. The 200 sq. ‘ shop in downtown Joshua Tree sells herbs, essential oils, tincture formulas (lab-tested and made right in the Mohave desert), along with chocolate, water, beauty supplies, Middle Eastern staple foods, gift items and lots of local crafts !
So, Iyla and I spent three invigorating days days talking to Grateful Desert Shoppe customers about essential oils, plants, and of course the weather. What could be more fun than that? I met a firefighter from somewhere near Santa Barbara, who told me tales of his adventures. Since I am a former fire fighter, I relish in these kinds of encouters. You can’t get the fire out of the fighter!
Many of Joshua Tree’s visitors go hiking, camping, walking and other things in the outdoors. I was glad to see visitors stocking up on preventative remedies at the Shoppe, before going to Joshua Tree National Park. Grateful Desert’s signature Cough & Flu tincture 2 0z bottles of hard-core goodness were flying out of the door! I have one in my medicine cabinet, along with Jenny Q herbals’ CENTER AROMATHERAPY SPRAY which comes in a pretty blue bottle. I spriz the yummy spray around my office to bring in the gay fairies as I set about my tasks.
Grateful Desert also serves as a community hub for resource-sharing on matters of holistic health, a place to bump into friends, share community, and honor the safety that space provides. On that note, it was so cool to visit with my friends eco-sexual artists Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle, who were are out shooting for their film on Water. An eco-sexual is an environmentalist, with a sexy twist. Eco-sexuality shifts the terms of “earth as mother” to “earth as lover,” which I find a great concept. It made a lot of sense that Annie and Beth would want to come shop at the Grateful Desert, since healthy sexuality and sensuality are a part of the Shoppe’s idea of holistic balance.
I saw Beth’s film “Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Eco-Sexual Love Story” about mountain top coal mining in West Virginia. The film is so well-narrated that I learned a lot that I didn’t know about coal mining in the United States and its harm to the environment. I saw Beth’s film right after I saw the documentary film “The Last Mountain” made to protest mountain top coal mining, by Robert Kennedy (the presidential family Robert Kennedy). While Kennedy’s blue eyes and his passion to stop mountain-top removal in coal mine harvesting captivated me, Beth Stephen’s film was much more informational and fun; plus, Beth is from West Virginia so her rendition of the West Virginia state song (which she sings in her film) has a special twang to it. Beth and Annie travel all over the world (!) creating community with their art, while focused on the importance of preserving and protecting our environmental resources.
I’m enjoying my jobs as an Elf & appreciate your support! Stay strong! – Big T.