20 Nov The Desert Acclimatization of a Midwestern Botanist
I’m new to deserts. And I’m sure the desert can tell. I think it can feel that the driest places I’ve seen prior are the xeric prairies of Wisconsin ridges, I think it can feel that I’m most comfortable with the coolness of the mornings rather than the peak sun of the day. But I feel a sense of home nevertheless. I’m surrounded by folks here at the Saguaro National Park with a deep sense of place, all through such different lenses. The stories of water bugs in canyon pools, leopard frogs soon-to-be-reintroduced, and saguaro history are all woven into being by the people I’ve encountered thus far. And all of these stories are told with such curiosity, such willingness to exist within a space and slowly get to know the beings all around. That bit, that curiosity, feels like home.
These stories become my own as I become acquainted with the life of the parks—through the scent of creosote and desert lavender, the sunlit spikes of cholla (so pretty! So painful!), the songs of birds I’ve yet to name, and through the immensity of presence and austerity that is a saguaro cactus.
As I write this little tangent, I’m stricken with the thought of the snow I would be seeing in SE Wisconsin right now, of the mineral-damp-air, and of the absolute cold, cruel, wind. That wind is here, too, but instead of feeling it harshly, I hear it when hiking upwards amongst ridges. Maybe that wind song is a little hello from the desert, so I say hi back.