In the crook of an old tree

you see its age.

My mother calls this elderly specimen The Twisted Tree, and you can see the character built into the mesquite’s gangly branches over the years. It sheltered a family of owls for years.

Its bark is venerable.

There is something for all who need it. Birds descend upon the prickly pear and devour its fruit.

Scottsdale, where it grows, was settled in 1894 and the tree could already have been established at that time.

There are young, fresh things growing here too.

Bristling, the teddy bear cholla.

Saguaros take many decades to get big. They are 50 before they grow an arm.

This one has a hanging arm and is riddled with woodpecker-pecked holes, but still reaches upward.

No one home today.

In the crooked grin of a man you see his age.

He’s been a bit banged up but his life stretches forward like the limbs of the mesquite outside his door.

Someone has thought to leave slogan-painted stones among the desert plants. A little corny, but somehow fitting.

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