Saturday, January 15, 2011

At Tohono Chul Park . . .

Yesterday we walked through Tohono Chul Park, rather small at under 50 acres, but a delightful meandering through desert plantings, particularly the Saguaro cactus, pronounced Sa-hwa-ro), considered a person by the O'Odham tribe. It's a little early for the wild flowers, but the sun was warm enough that we didn't need sweaters. I was buzzed by a bright green hummingbird, maybe because my hat had flowers on it.

Tucson, Arizona

We saw Monarch butterflies, and delighted in pincushion cactus, barrel cactus (their buds just coming on), and bunny ear cactus (more like Mickey Mouse). We were fascinated by the history and interplay between the native peoples and the Saguaro cactus, which is very slow growing, often living up to 150-200 years. Not only a source of water (in a single rainstorm, it can absorb up to 200 gallons of water), the Saguaro can weigh up to 8 tons fully grown (90% water!). The O'Odham tribe, before modern times, were nomadic and their calendar was organized around the flowering and fruiting of the Saguaro. The seeds of the Saguaro are very small and thrive best near the protective branches of the palo verdes (green stick trees), seen everywhere in the desert here.

Also at the park, I was drawn to the vivid prints of Gerald Dawavendewa, who works with symbols from the Hopi and Cherokee tradition, especially his print of four bright green circling hummingbirds. Much to see here in sunny Tucson that is good.

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