Death and life

curl around each other in the desert. The Bajada at the foot of the McDowell mountains in Scottsdale – the word means the slope of alluvial material that has washed down from the heights above – has the kind of brawny cacti that you want to find “out west”.

That saguaro has lived many lives. Judging from the number of arms, it can brag of hundreds of years. There are others, like the barrel cactus, that look juicy enough to take a bite of, even should injury result.

Spiky thorns are beautiful.

Spring and summer have passed and flowers still bloom.

Limbs weave a lace against the sky.

Plants look soft, but aren’t.

So much is dead or dying, and I like those pieces of the scenery as much as the healthy specimens.

Skeletons abound.

Creepy Halloween-y distorted forms.

The mounded den of a pack rat has a cover of debris to keep the animals safe, but every once in a while a snake finds the track to the opening and slips inside.

Chollas exist half dead and half alive.

Prickly pears give up the ghost.

Some look brash, proud of their skin like cinders.

The ironwood tree lords over it all. It can live 500 years. Some branches die, others grow.

It’s a way to subsist, living and living with death.

1 Comment

Filed under Jean Zimmerman

One response to “Death and life

  1. Peter Coats Zimmerman

    Re your barrel cactus, I have wondered whether some barrels might in fact be young saguaros, they look similar at this age. An excellent and accurate source of information is Anne Orth Epple’s Plants of Arizona, which helped me identify the many wildflowers that I’ve seen along Sedona’s Chimney Rock trail. FWIW….

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