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Like the Down of a Thistle

It’s obviously not Christmas. Other than a line in a holiday poem, I dunno what a wildflower has to do with Christmas, anyway.

But thistles, despite their purple flowers, are tenacious and thorny plants, spreading by the thousands in all directions. Imagine your job is to halt their spread nationwide, and you’re given a one-hour deadline to do so. And… GO.

Ridiculous, right?

That’s been my life the past several months. It’s like trying to stop a river by scooping it up with my hands. It’s no one ginormous thing – simply a cascade of millions of tiny drops, nothing individually and overwhelming together. I’m not miserably depressed, thank God. I went through those mental nightmares in my thirties and early forties. Now it’s about my brain on steroids, trying to figure out how to keep juggling everything.

In other words, life.


FRIDAY

We’ve been planning for weeks now to drive to Mt Lemmon for a photo shoot, and finally went. I gotta be honest – I nearly called off, because I’m exhausted and the drive to the summit is just so… long…

We left home around 8:30am today. Got home around 7:30pm. We stopped for gas, did Micky D’s for lunch, and at the summit there’s a tiny store where we bought a couple of bottles of water and some munchies. Otherwise the WHOLE TIME was driving or stopped for photos. I took 451 pictures today. G took close to 1000. Part of the reason he took more is I only got out of the car a couple of times – and some of the overlooks didn’t lend themselves to photos taken from inside the car. They had a stone safety wall about waist-high. So for those spots there pretty much weren’t any photo ops for me.

That being said, I did get a few pictures in.

This wildflower is everywhere and relative to most of the native flora you see here, it’s huge. It’s officially the Sacred Datura, aka Jimsin weed, aka desert belladonna, aka angel’s trumpet, and about a dozen other names. The blooms look similar to a white morning glory, if a morning glory bloom was six inches long and 3-4 inches across.

sacred-datura

As you might have guessed from the “desert belladonna” moniker, yes, it’s poisonous enough to kill you. And apparently it’s been used by shamans and various other people to get high, when it doesn’t kill them.

A different view, full color:


SATURDAY

Because my body kicked my ass last night – plus the nonstop computer crashes are back – I shut down Photoshop last night and came back this morning. I won’t rehash the issue for the bazillionth time. I’m simply resigned to replacing it in the next few months.

Anyway – more photos from yesterday. It’s a motley mess because I was feeling like crap most of the day and did a half-ass job. I think some of these came out well. Others… not so much.

sign

This sign stands just beyond a set of railroad tracks. It’s the turnoff we take to bypass freeway driving, which I loath. We took the freeway from our house to the Picacho Peak turnoff; from there it was side roads and secondary highways, including some back roads through Tucson so we bypassed the worst of the urban traffic, too.

sentinel

The skeletal remains of a tall pine still stands… for now. Its branches look very nearly symmetrical against the clouds.

Lone-leaf

The light was utterly magnificent. One leaf was ablaze.

rocky-peak

Another example of how the light was on our side. This was coming down the mountain, when the sun cast an etherial frost over the tips of this bluff. The sunny spotlight on the peaks disappeared completely just a few seconds after this – then came back shortly after, though the “after” was a harsher light with a hard shadow.

skeleton

Wildfires are a constant threat wherever there’s fuel. The skeletal remains of the juniper (above) attests to a fire that scorched the area in recent years. It’s isolated atop a cliff, with only more recent grasses and scrub at its base. And yes – everything rises directly from the stone. There’s very little topsoil in the area.

guardian

Stone formations on Mt. Lemmon look like they were built, vs. formed by nature. G and I call these stacks “totem stones” when we point them out. They’re everywhere.

blocks

A different rock formation, here arranged in a row Of stacked blocks. They look like they were placed by giants. The color isn’t ideal because it was getting late and the light was somewhat harsh.

clouds

The sky was magnificent. When we left home at 8:30am there were virtually no clouds. By the time we reached the top it was raining.

red-bark

The red bark of this manzanita looks painted on. It isn’t. And as you can see, its roots spring Directly from bedrock. I’m amazed at how much can grow from solid rock. There’s little more than a dusting of soil in the crevasses – and the cracks are there precisely because of the invading plant life.

Creosote2

Creosote (aka chaparral) blooms turn to dandelion-like puffs as they mature, the latter springing from seed-pods. As with dandelions, they use the fluff to propagate on the wind. They get to be 90 years old or more and up to 10 feet tall – though most are 3 feet or under. They’re used as natural medicines, though the FDA says it’s not a good idea. It can damage liver and kidneys.

light

More examples of the light. This hazy canyon, with its folded hillsides, demanded a photo even though by that point I was barely functional.

totem-stone

A closer view of a smaller totem stone. This one is at one of the dozens of pullouts and rest areas along the road.

Magnificent

This row of Ponderosa pines defied the dark skies behind them – made darker when the sun came out with a vengeance.


The ebook is live on Amazon. It’s sold a whopping two copies to date. Fun, huh?

I’m not surprised any more. I refuse to spend a fortune to promote it – it’s rarely if ever worth it. I’ve shared on FB and friends have shared on FB and that’s as much effort as I’m willing to put into it any more.

2 thoughts on “Like the Down of a Thistle”

  1. No wonder no one is buying the book. It’s free in the Kindle Unlimited. I purchased a copy, gotta support my author friends!

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