just branches, no leaves
cacti look like children’s drawings
haiku & photo by M. Nakazato LaFreniere
One of the things I want to start doing is writing about Arizona. It’s hard for me because I take it so much for granted, it’s hard for me to see its specialness. When you take something for granted, it makes you blind because you don’t see whatever it is. It is a challenge to be still, to look, to pay attention, to be in the present, to see because your mind goes “I’ve seen this already” and wanders off, missing everything.
Like cactus. To me they look like a kid’s drawing of a tree — all branches, no leaves before they learn to draw and paint. I envy folks with the grand 400-year-old oak trees.
But Saguaro cacti don’t grow their sidearms until they are more than 75 years old. So this guy is probably more than one hundred years old. Woodpeckers and other birds make holes to nest in the Saguaro but they can’t move in until a year later. After the hole is made,the Saguaro secretes a resin on the hole’s wall, making it waterproof so that cactus can continue to store water safely around the nest. These hard waterproof walls make what is known as the Saguaro boot. This boot is what the birds nest in.
Native Americans used to harvest these boots to use as water containers. These days it’s illegal to harvest the Saguaro boots in the wild even if the Saguaro has fallen over naturally and died. Of course, nowadays we have canteens, plumbing and grocery stores so we don’t need the Saguaro boots to store water.
And if you look at the bottom hole, nearby there are two paddles — I could be wrong but I think those belong to a Prickly Pear Cactus. I didn’t think a cactus could grow on another cactus.
You can use the Amazon search bar to do a search as I did with “saguaro”.
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Gila Woodpecker, Wikipedia
Saguaro boot, Wikipedia
Plant Fact Sheet: Saguaro Cactus, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum