Sunday, May 16, 2010

Death in the Desert

Death, as the expression goes, is a part of living.  As we wander the desert, death often goes unnoticed because of the activity that surrounds us.   The irony is, however, that death in the desert is always accompanied by a component of life.
That bee in the image below is dead, impaled on the spines of the prickly pear bud.  It was in the vicinity, most likely, to collect pollen from the adjoining prickly pear flower, driven onto the spines by the strong, gusty winds we've had recently.  Its pollen sacs are empty so maybe it was driven by  necessity, maybe it didn't sense the danger, maybe it was careless. 
                              
A small life, a small loss.  
But...amid this loss, the prickly pear is still trying...its petals are out saying, "Hey, look at me..."  One bee down, hundreds to come.
Plants, from a human perspective, have a hard time without arms, legs, eyes, speech/hearing.  Lacking all the "fun" things, however, they seem to do OK.  
The giants of the desert play this game of life and death right along with the diminutive players.  That giant agave, below, is signaling with the presence of its seed stalk that it will die in 6 - 12 months.  It, like the prickly pear, is trying to reproduce.  
Where's the drama?   Note the "skeleton" saguaro to the left.  It may have served as a "nurse plant" to the agave but, more likely, the agave's root system was more aggressive, dominating the available moisture.  
But, years later, the agave is dieing, as well.  That saguaro, hell, it's saying, "My skeleton is still here to watch you die."
We all die...by accident, by competition, by old age.  It's always there and we, the living, might as well get used to it...the plants and bees have a head start.

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