After being on Jeopardy! in LA, I took advantage of the fact that I was going to be stuck in the US for an indeterminate period of time, along with cheap airfare to visit my best friend, who lives in Tucson. Having grown up in Denver, I feel drawn to deserts; they bring peace to my soul. Denver may not actually be in a desert, but it is rather surrounded by them, from the rocky, high desert near Mesa Verde, to the red sandstone of Moab. I'll admit that the barren, Mars-like formations of southwestern Utah are probably my favorite manifestation of desert, but the Sonoran desert in Arizona is a close second.
Why do I love the Sonoran so? One word: Saguaro
I've been to Tucson four times in the last four years, and every time I take endless pictures of saguaro. They are so otherworldly, completely unrelated to the vegetation the rest of the United States -- really, the rest of the world -- sees on a daily basis. And they only exist in the Sonoran desert.
While I was in Tucson last week, it was definitely spring. The ocotillo were in such full leaf, as you can see from the photo above, that I actually mistakenly identified one as a foxtail fern from a distance. Ordinarily, the ocotillo look like thorny, dead collections of sticks, but the late-season monsoons had dropped enough rain on Tucson that everything was green and spring-like, in mid-October.
This man-made arroyo (you might call it a drainage ditch) helps funnel the water off the roadways. It, too, was brimming with life after the rain. I was astonished at how green it was, greener than Tortola is at this time of year. That's another thing I love about the Sonoran. It has its own seasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the calendar. I would argue that they probably coincide more with the southern hemisphere's seasons than with anything else.
I spent three lovely, sunny, warm days in the desert with my best friend and her brilliant boyfriend. Not as good as being at home with HB, Flash and Roscoe, but a wonderful balm for my spirit.