Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Cactus in bloom

The Sonoran Desert surprises people who are expecting something more barren from a desert. It has a wide variety of plants, animals and activity going on all the time. For me, there are three great events on the desert all of which are very important to maintain the ecosystem. This is not to say there are not many beautiful seasons but there are three for which desert people especially wait.

Taking this from a calendar year, first come the wildflowers, something that is more spectacular some years (like last) than others. It takes the right combination of rain storms to bring on the best shows.

Then come the cactus blooms which don't all come at the same time but have a peak season where the blooms take your breath away. I am no expert but from what I have seen in my many years down here, the pink ones come first, then come the yellow and red, with the saguaro waiting to bring on the cactus finale.

Finally, for me, is the show put on by the monsoon season where storms sweep across the valleys, the thunder booms, the lightning puts on impressive shows, and the washes overtake those who didn't pay enough attention to what was going on in the mountains. During the monsoon season, you drive across the dips in the highway at your risk and many the sorry driver has had their car swept away by what they thought was a shallow stream.

This spring, I missed most of the wildflower show and won't likely be here for the monsoon, but have been lucky enough to see the cactus starting their blooming season. It's been a delight. We drive out to the desert, usually to the other side of the Tucson Mountains and hit a gravel road where we can stop wherever we see splotches of color to get out, walk closer, take photographs, sometimes gently touch the lovely, waxy blooms, and savor the beauty. I am not sure I will be here when it's at its fullest show but am happy to be seeing as much of it as I am.

Because there are so many beautiful blossoms, I decided to do this in colors. First come the pink. These are small and showy. They will often be under the edge of bigger shrubs. Their appearance alerts you that soon the show will be in full flower.

Click to enlarge any of the photos as each one, to me, is exquisite.

Most of these were taken with the telephoto lenses to squish the background out of the way and get the maximum detail. They involve parking the car in a wide spot, getting out, watching cautiously for rattlesnakes, and avoiding all the desert thorns-- generally.


Peggy said...


The details in your photos are exquisite!
It sounds like you do have to take your life in your hands to get a great shot.
Thank you!

Rain said...

Thank you, Peggy. I don't consider it dangerous but it's just stay alert as the Sonoran desert is the home of some poisonous creatures. You don't turn over rocks without being careful and just watch as many things have coloring to make them blend into their background. I see it that we are invading their turf and it is our responsibility to stay aware of what's around us. The most common goof is to bump into say a jumping cholla which leads to part of it attaching to your body (I know from experience that is no fun to pry out. The last one I had that happen was when I lived down here in the 60s and Farm Boss had to pry it out with his hunting knife. The person removing it does not want to be handling it either. That is how that type of cholla propagates, and I try to avoid helping them.

For some of these photos I was wearing sandals and bumped into what had earlier been a pretty wildflower but now was waiting to spread its seed for new ground. It stuck into my shoe and foot but wasn't hard for me to pull out. It's just the nature of the desert which is part of its charm.

robin andrea said...

There is something about desert flowers that is so beautiful. Their colors are so rich and vital. Love your photographs, rain.

Sylvia K said...

Really gorgeous photos, Rain! The colors are so rich and beautiful! Thanks!

Kay Dennison said...

What fabulous photos, Rain!!!! You are really giving us a glorious perspective of the desert!!! Thank you for sharing it!

Anonymous said...

I don't know how I reached your blog but I am glad that I did. Now I can show them the God's smile in those desert blooms to my friends here. During the course of my everyday travel then to Ajo for almost a year and a half I had taken the slides of those beautiful blooms and made the collection of almost 400 slides.
We were discussing about retirement among our regular walking group here(more like strolling by the river on week ends) in Sacramento, California and I was telling them about how beautiful this place Tucson was and in general the SouthWest. We lived for nine years right off the Catalina Highway near the end of Sabino High School.
Thanks for reviving the memories.