The following article was presented at the Desert Trails Rv Parks Writers Group. I was so impressed by the story, I asked Kim if I could have a copy to share with my readers. The story embodies the life of a Saguaro cactus, I hope you will enjoy this unique story
MY LIFE AS A SAGUARO by Kim Hirschman
I was born in the great Sonoran Desert 209 years ago, the year was 1800. If I could only tell you what I have witnessed, the changes that have occurred, and about the people that have passed my way, what a story I could weave.
If I could only show you the place of my beginning. From a tiny seed, germination began, thanks to the shelter of a palo verde, my “nurse” tree. She provided shade from the unbearably hot sun and moisture from the dry, parched air. I grew slowly, about an inch a year, to my present height of 25 feet. While I am not the tallest saguaro nor have the most arms, I have lived longer then most any other plant or cacti in this area.
If I could only explain my magnificent home, I would tell you the Tucson Mountains are to my north. In the early evenings, the hills turn a beautiful shade of red. Northwest are the Santa Rosa Mountains and to the south are the Sierritas. My views are quite awesome in any direction. From the quiet sunrise to the colorful sunset, life in the desert continues on its daily quest for survival.
If I could only tell you about the wildlife here at my home. Mornings begin with the chatter of the Curved Bill Thrasher and the cooing of the White Winged Doves. Many of the Gila Woodpeckers and Gilded Flickers are already at work; several have bored their homes into my trunk through the years.
Cottontail and jackrabbits are out scrambling for nourishment, while hawks fly overhead in search of their next meal. As the day progresses and warms, the lizards, rats and snakes make their appearance, each with their own agenda. The circle of life continues with the need to feast. As another day draws to an end, the javelina re-group to satisfy their hunger, perhaps on a nearby prickly pear. The coyote partake in a family reunion, their songs of joy filling the evening air. Great horned owls are heard, and their search begins. Everyday is the same.
Everyday is different.
If I could only describe my appearance, I would tell you my skin is green and smooth, with almost a waxy feel to it. Two-inch spines grow along my ribs. In the spring, large white flowers with yellow centers adorn my arms. The three B’s pollinate- birds, bees and bats. I am old and weathered now, my trunk is turning brown and my arms grow weary. Pictures of my youth would indicate how robust and healthy I was. At the age of 85, my first arm developed. While the flora about me changed from palo verde to cacti, I flourished. A second arm began at the age of 110 and yet another when I was 130. Summer monsoons bring the necessary waters to me in the arroyo beside me. I am grateful for the water, I can absorb up to 200 gallons at a time, and I expand and prosper.
People pass by me daily, some glancing my way as they read the sign on front of me, indicating I am over 200 years old. If I could only tell you about the people I have seen.
Four different peoples have made their home with me. Long ago, when I was young, Native Americans made their way thru this desert land. If I could only tell you how much I miss their simple life, their respect of land and nature. They traveled in small packs, or large, some by foot, some by horseback. The bands of the Tohono O’odham and even some Apache.
Later, the Spanish arrived. Some dressed as soldiers with iron helmets, others in long robes with large crosses about their neck.
Following the Spanish, this land became part of Mexico. Many raids took place. People shifted, borders shifted, flags changed yet again.
Then the Anglo-Americans arrived, and still another flag was raised. Finally, the state of Arizona was recognized. All was peaceful for a time. Everything changes. Everything remains the same.
The miners passed our way, heading to the hills with high hopes. Cowboys wandered here and some did not make it through the desert. Some died at our feet with their ribs bleached white, resembling a fallen saguaro.
If I could only tell you how lucky I was to survive-out of 4,000 seeds from a single fruit, I have witnessed over 200 years of history.
For nearly 30 years now there has been a camp set up near by. These people reside here throughout the winter months. Many faces have become familiar as they take their daily strolls through the desert, many with walking sticks or cameras about their neck. Some familiar faces have not returned, but there are many new ones to replace them. The aging process continues in them, as well as me.
Next time you wander by, stop awhile and just imagine. I have so much to tell you, if you will only listen.