May 7, 2008

The Desert Blooms

Recently, I got to see my sister get married in sunny Arizona. It was really wonderful, and everything went well, thankfully. I’ve been to Arizona a couple of times now in recent years, and I’m glad to say that I’m starting to get more used to it; hence, I have a growing attraction to it. This time, I tried to be smart, so I wouldn’t become a dried-up, sun-fried version of myself like those times before. I brought and applied plenty of lotion, especially moisturizer. I woke up every morning to slather plenty of that on my thirsty face. To which I added layers of sunscreen when we went out and about, and I didn’t have the slightest hint of sunburn the whole time. I styled my hair quickly after exiting the shower so it didn’t dry too fast and get flat and brittle from lack of hair product. The only thing I wasn’t too smart about was the absence of sandals, although my “wedding” shoes did breathe sufficiently. DH and I had a great time buzzing around in a rented Jeep Liberty (and I must say, he enjoyed it very much—maybe too much). We got to experience, this trip, a lot of desert beauties that I didn’t really know existed. Would you believe so many interesting and beautiful things could survive in such an inhospitable environment?

First off, my dad is actually from Arizona, so I owe half of my own characteristics to the sunny state. That’s certainly a beautiful thing right? Beauty of a dad, sure sure—beauty of a family. And, of course, my sister and my brother’s weddings (incidentally) took place there. And they were both at their beaming best for the occasions.

This little guy we saw on a hiking trail. I don’t know if I’d necessarily call him pretty, but he certainly is interesting. We learned that sometimes lizards will start making movements that look like pushups, and that means that they feel threatened. Territorial little guys.

This is the classic cactus that we all remember from our cartoon watching days: the great saguaro. And they are everywhere, and some are really strange looking. They’ve got “arms” all over the place. We saw some really interesting ones on a hike. One looked like it actually had outstretched arms, trying to hug something! There were a variety of crazy cacti. More than I ever imagined. Some looked like slugs.

I love a good prickly pear. I love their little blossoms, and I had no idea they would come in so many colors. I think if we ever live in Arizona, we’ll have to fill our yard with these guys. Of course, that may change the first time I get stuck with a cactus needle, unawares. We actually got to sample prickly pear ice cream! I know you can’t really taste much of the actual cactus, since they are trying to make it taste good, but it was fun anyway!

We hiked a relatively short trail to see these petroglyphs left by ancient peoples on the rocks near the Superstition Mountains. There were representations of the world, cacti, people, and animals. (At least, from what I could gather, that’s what they were representing.) DH and Bro-in-law decided to torture a couple of testy lizards that were hiding in a crack. And the rocks actually turned out to be kind of slick. Always an adventure!

Well there’s one thing about the Valley of the Sun: it’s hot. There’s no disputing it, and I’m sure no one would ever want to. But, even in a place where it’s hot and dry with little water or other essential resources, things bloom: plants, animals, people, complicated highway systems. Life finds a way. (Just like in Jurassic Park. You go, Jeff Goldblum.) And long before I was born—long before my grandmother was born—people lived there, in the desert, in the heat, with the cacti. Positively mind-boggling, really. I’d like to think I’ve got that connection with Arizona, with my dad and his large family, with the crazy looking slug cacti. Whatever the environment, the circumstances, the resources, life finds a way—a way to not only survive, but to flourish.


Dan and Margo said...

Yes!! My home - isn't Arizona great! It is hot, yes, but this is the best time of year - don't visit in August! I agree that lots of wonderful things bloom here - even roses!

laurylaro said...

My first impression of AZ was also "yuck", but as my in-laws reside there and I've gradually gotten acquainted with the state, I can say it grew on me too. Especially the swaying palm trees mixed in with the cactus and all the white lights outdoors at the malls create an almost glamorous scene.

L & B said...

I have never realized, until today, how much the girls in your family look like Angela Kinsey. (which is a good thing, I think she is adorable and a fellow Texan)

brittani c. said...

You are the cutest thing ever. I love reading your thoughts...I heart Photoshop too, but since the days of the Chum class we had to take at BYU, I haven't dabbled in it as much as I'd like. :)

Janelle said...

I love all of your Arizona photos. They make me feel homesick. Well actually we are to the season where I am glad that I live in Utah since they are about to hit 100 this week. Really there is a lot to love in AZ once you get used to it. The sunsets are to die for.