There’s a time of year in the Sonoran Desert when plant life is perfect. That time is now. We have a few hot days and a bit of rain, and the Ocotillo, which looks like a collection of thorns and sticks, breaks out in leaves and flowers.
Close up, the flowers are incredibly beautiful, but they have no scent. Although hummingbirds don’t seem to mind.
Then there is a paddle cactus in the front yard that is covered with blooms. In the morning they are bright yellow.
In the afternoon, they deepen to orange.
And in case you aren’t completely sure if you prefer pink or yellow, this agave has a flower spike of each one.
It’s a wonderful time of year, it lasts about four weeks, and then hell comes to spend the summer. But right now, it’s gorgeous.
–Quinn McDonald is a naturalist, artist and creativity coach who lives in the Sonoran desert.
The desert is an interesting place to live. The plants, animals and humans that adapt to shifting weather do well and thrive. Those that resist, don’t.
Meanwhile, the native plants adapted to the heat, rain, wind and ground-granite dirt. Yesterday, I noticed the saguaro cactus make the most of the monsoon rains. Today, I noticed the ocotillo (Oh-Ko-TEE-Oh) or
monkey-tail cactus adapt to the climate. The ocotillo sends up long branches from the ground. As the summer heat soars, the ocotillo drops all its leaves to conserve water, exposing long thorns. It looks dangerous and wild. Give it a monsoon rain, and within hours, leave pop out along the “trunk” and soak up the humidity. Within days, if it doesn’t rain, the leaves drop off.
The same works for people. Those who see change as a challenge to their creativity thrive. Those that resist all change have a hard, unhappy life. Adapting isn’t giving up or caving in. It’s sending out new green leaves to soak up the life-sustaining force from what surrounds you, then dropping the leaves again before the atmosphere sucks you dry. There’s a lot to be said for the ocotillo.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach who is astonished each day by the vibrancy of the desert landscape. See her workshops and read about coaching at her website, QuinnCreative.com