The Other Side of Vibrant

One of my personal goals this year is to more intimately understand the medicinal plants growing in my local environment. I want to develop such a familiarity with Arizona flora that I come to know them in all their life stages, and can more aptly expect what might be growing where, and when, more specifically. If for instance I find myself thinking, “Oh I’m on the South face of this mountain at 2,000 feet” I want such a thought to follow as, “It’s likely that I’ll find X,Y, or Z growing here.” This kind of stuff is devotedly described in medicine plant guides under Habitat and Range sections, but I want to acquire MORE of this wisdom through my own exploration.


Compass Barrel Cactus

I’ve discovered that spending a few hours with a community of medicinal plants offers limitless revelations into the plants’ most private natures. Watching them open to receive sun at just the right moment, observing the temperature and wind speeds at which the amount of nectar is most enticing to hummingbirds, and even becoming aware of precisely which flowers are ready for harvest - and why.

I swear these plants talk. I hear them. Almost in words, but not quite. They tell me things but only if I’m really present and focused only on being with them. Just like in any meaningful relationship.

We’ve had some rain the last two nights here in my neck of the Sonoran Desert, so this morning felt like a great opportunity to get some cooler than usual hiking in and fill my soul with the scent of Chaparral heavy on a humid air. I wanted to see what the desert looks like immediately after a rain that follows months of hot and very, very dry.

I set out for 4 miles in the McDowell Mountains, pretty much my go-to.

The desert is very much alive. The plants have mostly withdrawn their energies, dropping leaves and hunkering down to prevent dehydration. But there were tons of cicadas, chipmunks, bunnies, lizard babies, and roadrunners. And the entire landscape took on a different hue…Even though there was a lot of brown, it was still beautiful, with browns, reds, and greens all on display in different modes at this unique time.

I don’t know if it was the cloud cover or the humidity or what, but it' was REALLY challenging to get clear photos. Maybe my photosynthesizing friends were shy of their awkward appearances, but I love them no less. Some of these are enlarged and blurry and edited for the effect, but the colors are pretty accurate. Enjoy a quick peak into the desert’s summer magick, and go find yourself some plants to hang out with!

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