Thursday, January 18, 2007

In Retrospect: the Best of 2006

The temperature has been hovering in the single digits this past week. My oldest daughter pulled out some of her pictures from our Arizona vacation, taken last March. Warm memories!
The children each brought home a cactus as a souvenir. There were so many to choose from! For me, it was almost as much fun making a list of cactus names: Monkey Tail, Hedgehog, Brain plant, Mother-in-law's tongue, Pincushion, Barrel, Dead Man's Fingers, Turk's Cap, Pregnant Onion, Pencil Plant, Dutchman's Pipe. The names are all so appropriately descriptive!

Of course, the large saguaros are also endlessly fascinating. We had to pull over to the roadside several time so that the children could snap photos. Edwin Way Teale writes about these "water towers of the desert" in his book Wandering Through Winter:

"It is these giant cacti (saguaros) that come first to mind when we remember southern Arizona.
Each column that towered above us was, in effect, an expandable storage tank. The accordianlike pleats that run vertically up the side of a saguaro enable it to expand or contract, to increase or decrease its circumference. The cactus becomes more slender in times of drought, more plump when rain has fallen. Its spongelike tissues have enormous capacity for holding liquids. A large saguaro may collect as much as a ton of water from a single rain."

A Christian could easily find a sermon in this natural wonder, but Teale rarely moralizes. He allows nature to make its own indelible mark on the human soul. A wise teacher lets the student come to his or her own conclusions, don't you think? That is why I enjoy Teale's writing so much.


Krakovianka said...

We were fortunate enough to visit Arizona in spring 2005, and we happened to arrive during the time when everything was blooming--even the saguerro! It was the most amazing thing, and my whole family fell in love with the dessert (it was a first visit for all of us). I loved the ocotillo plant (not a cactus)--it was blooming too. There's a sermon in a plant, too--dead, thorny, ugly, but topped by living flame.

Poiema said...

We lived in AZ for 5 years back in the early 80's. I always thought the saguaros in bloom looked like they were old women wearing Easter bonnets. I hope my children can see the desert in bloom someday.