Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A post in pictures: Strange Land

A long time ago, the stringy-haired, bespectacled little girl who used to be me would have walked through a landscape like this in horror. As nourished as she was by verdant fields, creeks that ran all year, abundant wildflowers, and deep, earth-scented woods, she would have been appalled by the bizarre plant life here and felt in a nauseated sort of way that she was a stranger in a strange place. The sight of the dull and bone-dry clay everywhere under foot would have repelled her. Where's the grass? she would have wondered in panic. The rich, deep brown earth beneath it? Where are the irises, the tiger lilies, the black-eyed susans...the hardwood trees?

Now, all grown up, I'm fascinated by this alien landscape, and I can almost believe that silky yellow cactus flowers in my planter could rival the beauty of violet irises in the grass or a profusion of black-eyed susans along a country lane. Almost.

Nostalgia wins, if only because the mind erects an altar to it, well guarded by memory, which defies any rival of the present.

Dad wrote a comment on one of my posts about Arizona; You've gone native, haven't you? I can almost see the bit of sadness dripping from those lines. Gone native in a place like Arizona, his little southern girl who thought that the sun and moon rose only over Middle Tennessee? That naive little person who imagined the man she would marry could simply walk out of the beautiful, well-loved woods behind her home (no doubt thrown out of his native fairy tale), so she could avoid uprooting herself, instead married an Albuquerque boy who had never once in his life been in the South (and never intended to be)?

Yes, and that is the stuff dreams are made of...or, at least, my fortunate life.

So, here I am, and I do love it, despite the fact that I have at present a strong spell of homesickness inspired simply by this act of writing. Yet, if there is one thing that Arizona taught me after many arid years of journeying blind and stubborn through its desert regions, it's this: you can find something to like about any place on this planet. Your respect for its natural environs will certainly grow the more you explore them with open eyes and an open mind. Heck, you might even come to love the place. Just don't waste time pining for the paradise you left behind; you'll likely never return to it. Even if you do and even if by some miracle it has not changed, you certainly will have changed. So....move on and move in fully with your whole being when you arrive at a new destination. Make the best of your strange presence in a strange land until you are forced to march on.

And take lots of pictures.
...painfully pretty


a bloomin' saguaro

saguaro, mostly dead all day

crested saguaro

another one bites the desert dust

a friendly, welcoming local

All pictures taken at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix


  1. "So....move on and move in fully with your whole being when you arrive at a new destination." Yes, absolutely Hillary! Looks like you are embracing your environment even while you miss the iris. But this is such a whimsical landscape! Almost Tim Burtonish in its painful beauty. Oh my.

    Lovely photos. :)

    1. Jayne, I am never sure whether my pictures capture what I wish or not, so thanks for the reassurance. Arizona does have a little inspiration for Tim Burton, doesn't it?

      I hope I remember to move on and move in if I'm forced to leave Arizona. It was a good lesson learned from a state with lots to offer - and not just desert.


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