Tag Archives: saguaro

On the cusp of spring

the Arizona desert moves itself to sprout.

The ocatillo puts forth its first miniature green leaves.

Fairy Duster joins the party.

Pima Dynamite trails may be full of mountain bikes and power lines, but they go on and on despite humankind’s interference.

This preserve was saved from development by a champion named Arthur W. Decabooter. A successful doctor, he opened doors to which “cactus huggers” had previously been denied and served as chair of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve starting in 1994.

In our party of six, photographers go clicking, trying to capture everything that is beautiful beyond measure. Shrubby Deervetch looks eager.

The saguaro braces itself against the sky, eternally photogenic.

The ones with peepholes fascinate me.

The cause of the decay is bacterial necrosis. The amazing thing is it goes on and up, at least for some time, as beefy and strong as its hole-less neighbors.

The bark of the Palo Verde pops, grasshopper-chartreuse in the sharp sunlight.

Teddy-bear chollas swell, show off, display themselves, muscular arms on blackened stalks.

Fishhooks have retained their fruit but are so ready to bud out.

Quartz sparkles, scattered like treasure on either side of the trail.

Another first flower – does anyone know its name? No. Does it matter? The desert is so far beyond names. Let’s call this one purple-bloom and be done with it.

Close up, cacti are so severe.  The thorns are actually modified leaves, and help the reduce water evaporation. It is also  a fierce sort of armor, so different from the more gentle deciduous trees back east.

All saguaros are the same, yet different.

Kind of like those who hike the trails, appreciating the grandeur of the desert, and Dr. Arthur W. Decabooter, who dedicated himself to saving it. Thank you, Dr. Decabooter.

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We are nowhere.

Nowhere is sometimes beautiful, especially out a car window, roadside nowhere.

If you’re in the right mood, that is. We drive north from Scottsdale to Cave Creek and pass pretty much nothing. Isn’t nothing interesting?

If you have maybe too much too think about, beefy saguaros in a parking lot can seem pretty cool.

Or massive pines.

Peter drives.

His hat came from the 90th birthday party of Paul Orifice, former chairman of Dow Chemical.

My mother just turned ninety. Still a vision, even when the sun makes her squint.

We pass groves of beaver tail or elephant tongue cactus, no one knows which. Cave Creek’s a tacky western-style town, replete with Jesus, gifts and cheap hotels. Big Earl’s Greasy Eats is the local fast food.

Hooray America.

Bikers throng the bars.

Barrel cactus morphs.

The restaurant a cacophony. Corny Mexican that offers oblivion in its world-famous margarita.

You can get a 32-ounce bucket to go for 32 dollars.

My mother is a naturally spiritual person, though she has no use for organized religion. As long as you’re a good person, she says, it doesn’t matter what you believe, if you believe anything at all. All the fires are lit.

Over chips and three types of salsa, we speak of things that matter. Of “arrangements “ that will eventually have to be made—not yet!

Not every woman has a wall of ornaments gleaned from different cultures, most of which embody spiritual beliefs.

There is a Panamanian toucan and a coming-of-age necklace for Indonesian women. They hang in her lair, in her woman-cave.

One was gifted her recently for her ninetieth year my brother. It’s a Zen chime made by an artist/musician in Memphis, Zen because it is a chime that makes no sound. (I must credit Peter for the best of these pictures.) The Tanzanian headdress for a young woman is especially intricate.

At El Encanto, I dig into my queso guillermo, hot bubbling cheeses blended with yellow chiles, onions and tomatoes, served sizzling at the table, with pico de gallo, limes and corn tortillas. I think about the nothing of the desert, of the flame, of spiritual artifacts, of the ashes that some people want scattered on the desert when they pass. That’s something.

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