Saguaro Skyline

What can I do…?

We have a short time to live. As a human at this point in time we are limited to around 100 years give or take but more than likely not even close to that long. I have Saguaros on the property who will last longer than me. I live near the base of a significant mountain range that is a constant reminder that I am small and my time is fleeting.

It’s usually during times of loss, times of pain or struggle when I start to question everything.  In those times I reflect.image

Does the Superstition look back at me at as some type of  leech? Just another small growing thing that sucks away the air and water but gives nothing back? Or even worse. Am I something that’s has left waste and ruined the space I took up? Did I leave a scar that will take years if ever to heal? Did I have any impact for the good on my surroundings? Does it matter?

I care. I feel. I hurt for others. I cry. I hug. I try to make sure my actions don’t intentionally hurt anyone either emotionally or physically. I give. Isn’t that enough?

You know what?  No… it’s not.

No, I can smile and make eye contact as I go about ordinary daily life. I can hold open a door making sure the person actually got all the way through before I let go. I can say please and thank you everywhere. I can listen not distracted when spoken to. I can send love through my energy out into the vast openness and let it land where it may. I can choose to spend the very limited amount of time I have left taking up space on this planet doing SOMETHING positive. I can be grateful for what I have. The little of it and the lot of it.image

And I can use my most powerful natural given gift WAY more often. I can smile.

You change as you age. You do. You see things differently. You learn. I have learned the power of a smile. You can feel it. It carries energy as it is seen and received.

Laughter of course is great medicine. That’s been said over and over. But you know what? I don’t always get to laugh. Sometimes things just aren’t funny. Some moments in life hurt too much. Stop you in your tracks hurt.IMG_0423

Maybe my smile isn’t as big during those times but it’s there. Smaller, but there. Sometimes it’s that smaller smile combined with tears that simply says I’m ok. I can do this. I have seen that smile in the mirror once or twice.

Fake smiles and practiced smiles don’t work the same. It has to come from inside. The kindness that comes from deep inside you. From that place that allows our energy to connect.

No money needed. Every one of us comes fully ready and equipped to smile…teeth or no teeth. Let’s be honest, a no teeth baby smile is the best. It’s so powerful it can melt a heart.

So this morning we decided to drive around to the other side of the mountain. There is a whole lot more to the Superstition then the limited yet stunning views we see from this side.

I think it’s time for all of us to hop in the car for a mini road trip again. Time to put the effort in. Stretch out a little. Time to see things from a different point of view. To know more. To grow. You may not feel like there is much if anything you can do to change life but there is.

You can go outside and smile. Start there.



Saguaro.  Pronounce it Suh war oh.

Saguaro are beautiful, strong, and unique. No two look alike yet when they are drawn or painted they get the generic treatment, cartoon round top and two arms. Like most “desert” souvenir the imagery is cliché and dated. A mighty Saguaro becoming just a cactus on a mug or a key chain…its wrongimage

As a society we have taken plants like roses and mass produced and modified them to the point that the ones at the grocery stores don’t even smell. What is the point of a rose if it doesn’t smell?

Yet this same society kicks and fights and screams about seeing one another as individuals, unique, not lumped into a category. Praised for being special. I guess the saying “You do you” doesn’t apply if you are a plant.image

Quite a few Saguaro live on the property we just bought. Some are definitely over a hundred years old with the others not that far behind. How do I know how old they are? Saguaro get their branches or arms anywhere from 50 to 70 years old. They get flowers on the top around 35 years.image

We are talking about a plant, a cactus, that typically lives 150 to 170 years!

Not sheltered in a green house. Not lightly misted by an ocean breeze. No this plant has seen year upon year of scorching heat in a desert that kills. It has lived without water for periods so long that the ground dried and cracked. Yet time and again men drop dead after only a few hours in the same harsh desert. Season upon season of monsoon winds sand blasting and drying, sun baking and burning. The Saguaro still stands.image

It has had its skin picked and torn to create shelter for the desert birds. Hawks use them as a perch to launch an attack.image

Saguaro live only in the Sonoran Desert and not even all of it because Saguaros don’t grow above 4000 feet typically and they don’t like freezing.

Oh and we grow slow. An inch to an inch and a half in the first EIGHT years. Inch to an inch and a half! This from a plant who will eventually tower over the landscape growing up to 50 feet!image

The fruit that grows on the top each contain about 2000 tiny black seeds. IMG_1416Now fun fact! If a coyote or a cactus wren eat the fruit is gets dispersed throughout the desert when they poop but if a quail or dove eats it then it just gets digested. I’m sure the birds still poop but it doesn’t help grow more Saguaros.image

Saguaro are not endangered but they are protected. I cannot just go out into my yard and dig one up. It’s called the Native Plant Protection Act.

Quite possibly one of the coolest thing I have ever seen is a Crested Saguaro. Go to I am on a mission to get my own photo of one.

Protect enough space where special things can continue to grow naturally. Truly start to value the real unmodified beauty that’s all around us. Don’t be willing to live in a world that would dismiss such a cool plant by turning them all into two armed cartoons.image

Where is this?

2.5 acres of not flat desert is what our house sits on. We are wonderfully close to the Superstition Mountain in an area called Gold Canyon AZ. Our house sits on top of a hill and gives us views from every way you look. The house is small and built in the 1940s. The previous owners took care of it so well and created such an amazing energy surrounding it that we have changed very little moving in.

It’s not the inside that I want to focus on anyway.

Part of why I wanted to write any of this is as I have grown older I realize not everyone has the same yard work experiences, understanding of, access to and love of working in a desert yard. I have plenty to share.image.

I have never considered myself a “gardener”. I’m not cultivating heirloom tomatoes and honestly have had little luck with growing any vegetable. To me a gardener can have pretty tools. They can have gloves with the cool designs to put into dark brown mulch and smooth around their yard. To me a gardener has beautiful flowers they cut in bunches and take in the house.

I work in the yard. I fight with it. It fights back. I am scratched and torn and bleeding guaranteed. My gloves are stuck with thorns. Desert plants are no joke. They are not going to be pulled or trimmed willingly. Years of evolution have made cacti extremely efficient in protecting themselves.

But whether they like it or not they need to be taken care of and groomed. Fire is a real danger in the desert. Leaving dead bushes and shrubs and branches is not a good idea. It also makes it even harder to protect your land from fire if it is surrounded by dry dead brush. Overgrown bushes hiding cacti are not fun either and can be seriously dangerous.image

Some cactus can be next to impossible to get within a few feet of unless you are ok with being impaled by three inch spikes or met with clumps of spikes that have fallen strategically around the plant. Jumping Cholla are famous for this magic. They grow here and land there. These are especially not fun to groom either but for open property like we have getting those fallen cacti bits off the ground is needed for my friends, family and the dog’s safety.image

I hope with this blog to share the beauty that is out here on a more personal level and less technical level. I am going to do my best to post pictures of my cacti with their real, scientific names and some info. and what not but also take non photo shopped pictures so you can be as close to the plants and nature as I can offer and still feel real.

We just bought this house. I will not take credit for some of the fabulous that is already growing here. The previous owners did a great job. We too have done our share in cleaning up the acreage and are uncovering hidden cacti left and right, hoping to highlight what already lives here. Really all credit for the beauty around here goes to nature.image

We have plants that grow nowhere but this desert. We also have 13 different species of rattlesnakes in AZ but that’s another blog. Oh calm down it’s not crawling with snakes out here. But yes we have seen a snake since arriving. Not a rattler though. Pretty 4 footer probably gopher snake just cruising along. They are needed and wonderful. If you don’t like snakes then don’t go near them. I PROMISE they won’t voluntarily go near you.