Last weekend, Mr. P and I drove out to the desert. It was the tail end of the wildflower bloom; and while we missed the spectacular displays of the previous weeks, there were still ocotillo and cholla in bloom.
Most of the year, ocotillos appear to be dead. Their spindly prickly arms reaching up into the hot dry air. Once the rains come, they transform and small green leaves pop out along those prickly arms and red blooms burst from their waving ends.
However, it’s the Chollas that make me cringe. They’re not called Jumping Cactus for nothing. If you’ve ever been stuck by these, and I have, you know to stay clear. The slightest brush up against one of these and you’re full of spines. Still, they’re strangely beautiful in ways leafy plants can never be.Desert vistas have a lunar quality about them. They inspire awe simply because of their vastness. But once you get into the landscape, immerse yourself in it’s oddities, you find incredible beauty, adaptability, and tenacity. Everything is more than it seems.Getting there to appreciate it often requires some 4 wheeling, something Mr. P is always happy to do in his daily driver. The Cruiser took it all in stride, getting us through soft sand to Font’s Point overlook for the view of the badlands. As barren as it appears, life thrives here. But it is a life specifically suited to this environment. Despite the fact that I once came perilously close to dying in the desert, I remain enthralled by its grandeur, beauty and irrepressible life. It inspires me.