Only one tree grows naturally in the great Sonoran desert that fills much of Arizona and continues down into Mexico. The dominant site throughout the desert is, of course, the huge Saguaro cacti.
Now that they are protected, they are everywhere, including dominating well-tailored back and front yards of suburban homes in and around Phoenix. You can’t cut them down, so no matter how well you plan your garden, nothing prevents a cactus from decided to take root there.
The ironwood is not a cactus, but a tree. It can live in the hottest, driest possible growing condition. It is the only tree that will survive in that environment without human intervention.
An old, gnarled ironwood tree is a true symbol of the North American west. Resilient doesn’t cover it. This is ultimate survival.
Since Cee very kindly left this as an open topic, I thought I’d go through my archives and find my favorite monochrome images for 2016. I did more in black & white this year than in any year since film went away and cameras went digital. Which, for you kids, is what we old kids call “a long time ago.” Rediscovering black & white and toned monochrome is an adventure. Returning to my photographic roots, as it were.
The little tree is still standing, but it’s no longer the center of the room or of upcoming festivities. Now, it’s the tree of Christmas past and waiting only to go back into storage until next year. Poor little tree. It has such a brief moment of glory. Who can blame it for moping this time of year when it can feel deep in its polyvinyl core, that the end is near. So let us give one last, final cheer for a doughty little tree whose life is darkness for 11 months and glory for but one!
Sometimes, probably more often than we’d like to admit, there is only a single path. It may be rough or smooth, across open land or into a tangled woods. Regardless, it’s the road we are on and there’s no going back.
This is my road. It goes quite straight, up the hill and then, disappears. What lies beyond the hill I don’t know. Life is traveled without maps. We never know what’s over the hill or around the bend … or at the other side of the woods. And, as for taking the road less traveled? In my experience, it inevitably goes nowhere. That’s why the road is unused.
First and foremost, despite all of WordPress’s improvements which make it so much more difficult to manage this blog and keep putting out quality material, I intend to give it my best shot. As will my co-conspirators who I thank from the bottom of my heart for their contributions, love, and support.
A huge thank you to Ellin Curley who has completed a full year of blogging and never missed a deadline! In any business, that’s a pretty big deal. Her witty, cultured, and humorous observations on the human and doggish condition have vastly improved the quality of Monday morning for me and many others!
To Rich Paschall who has not only never missed a day, but always been there to pitch in when I’ve been away, on a vacation or rather more frequently — in the hospital. Thank you, Rich. From the bottom of my heart, I have never regretted inviting you to become a part of this … whatever we are. I only wish you lived nearby so we could slurp coffee and plan projects! More than three years during which time you have written fiction, travelogues, and deeply moving LGBT stories — documentary and fictional. Your writing has made a difference in lives all over the world. You have had an impact on the community and woken up a more than a few people who might otherwise never have paid attention to a reality in which they don’t personally live. Several of Rich’s pieces are among the most-views posts published on this site.
Rich, you are a treasure!
Garry, who is as I type this writing a piece … you are always my star on Serendipity. Your stories of the people you’ve met, the things you’ve seen, as well as your wonderfully warped sense of humor and great eye for a picture are of incalculable value to me, personally and to this site. I couldn’t do it without you. I wouldn’t even want to try.
And Tom. You haven’t written much, but each thing you have contributed has shown brightly. You make people laugh and you tell the truth in a way that people can both understand and enjoy. That’s a rare gift. Now, how about a little more output in the year to come? I know you’ve got stories. Between you and Garry, you’ve got an encyclopedia of stories. How about the time you met Timothy Leary? Huh? Now that buying pot in Massachusetts is legal — but selling it is not (huh?) …
I couldn’t have better friends or a better team. It’s a rough world out there and this is, for all of us, the one place where we can say how we really feel … and at least so far, no one can stop us from expressing ourselves. Let’s keep the world smiling, thinking, and remember to check the facts. Let’s have the best reality-based-with-wild-flights of fancy weblog in the world! We’re almost at half a million views as I write this. Lets get there and keep going. Yay team. Yay each of us.
But the biggest thank you goes to my followers, readers, and friends. They say that friends you meet and get to know on the Internet are not “real,” but a lot of you are very real to me. You have encouraged me when I’m down, told me I’m great when I feel anything but, sent me little gifts that made me feel incredibly special. I don’t know that I deserve your love and support but you have — all of you (and you know who you are, or I certainly hope you do!) from the farthest east, to the mountains of Switzerland, to the glades and glens of Shropshire, Cornwall, and the mysterious standing stones in England … you have taken me to places I had only dreamed of.
I’ve seen the sun rise over the Jura mountains and in the Arizona desert.We got there in person — you can’t top that!
I’ve seen the wilds of Australia and Tasmania. Learned how much our Canadian neighbors are just like us … but different, too. We’ve shared our kids, our dogs, our fears for our country’s futures. Our concerns for the climate and the natural world.
We’ve talked about our life, loves, and many happy hours about our cats and dogs and horses. I’ve learned about growing up in places that to me are as mythical as Oz or Valhalla … and met people who have traveled and lived all over the world. And all of you have helped me feel as if finally, I fit in somewhere. I belong to this world, this strange and marvelous world of blogging we share.
ILLEGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM
Let’s all take a bow and stride forward bravely into the new year. Go team SERENDIPITY!
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