Last week, I made a last-minute trip to Tucson. My Nana has been in and out of the hospital, and while it was nothing critical, the ongoing nature of her sickness concerned me enough that I felt it warranted a visit.
I got a late start on Wednesday which meant that I was crossing the Arizona state line around 6:00 p.m. I always love this moment of crossing boundary lines, regardless of where I am. I feel like I’m stepping from one world into another. This is especially true when I visit my hometown. To my surprise, I was greeted by the setting sun and fields upon fields of yellow wildflowers. While this is not uncommon in the desert in Spring, it is uncommon to see so many. As I drove past them, I realized just how special it was. (I currently live in Texas and at this time of year, roadside wildflowers are varied and plentiful. Bluebonnets are a protected species for crying out loud! Texans loves their flowers. )
When I arrived to my childhood home and told my mom about the flowers, she said that I should take a drive through Gates Pass, a scenic Tucson drive, to see all of the orange and purple flowers in full bloom. It did not disappoint. I wanted to get pictures of it all, but I was so caught up in the moment, lime Eegee in hand (wait, what’s an eegee?!), that I just enjoyed the scene in front of me instead. It was the first time in weeks that I felt relaxed and at peace.
As I made the long drive back to Texas yesterday, I had some thoughts about the wildflowers and myself:
- I was born in the desert. I never realized how special desert people are until I moved away. Desert dwellers are hardy and adaptable. They can withstand 40 to 50 degree temperature changes between night and day. This was my experience between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Saturday’s temperature reached 83 degrees and the overnight temperature was 36 degrees! They know how to go with the flow and take what comes at them.
- Desert dwellers are resourceful. They make do with what they have (sometimes with very little) and they do it with grace and dignity. They have learned to make the most of what they have…think mesquite flour and prickly pear jam. Nowhere else would someone see a spiny pink orb on a cactus and think it was meant to be eaten The desert has little water for the people, plants and animals it sustains and yet, in those moments of want and need, desert people seem to thrive the most.
- Desert people have mastered the art of appreciating the small things. In the desert, the summer is long and the winter is brief. This is one of the first years in decades that has seen large amounts of winter rain, cold weather and even snow! The unexpected cold, wet winter brought with it a plenitude of spring wildflowers that have painted the desert in yellows, oranges, reds and purples not seen on this scale in years. In spring and summer, the desert is green, alive and in bloom, as if to seduce the monsoon season into blessing her with more rain. The light dances off the mountain ranges with each rising and setting sun. It’s almost as if the sun brings color to the desert that if often missed during times of hardship and drought, when even the hardiest and grateful of desert people stop seeing green and only see the brown of the desert floor.
As I drove back to my Texas home, I realized the depth of my Arizona roots. The blood of the desert flows through my veins like the monsoon rains flow down months-dry river beds. When the summer rains feel like they are months away, I stand tall like the saguaros. And just like the wildflowers across the desert, I, too, will bloom when the time is right.
Do you have wildflower pictures to share? Post them in the comments below!