Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Christmas Wedding takes my Holiday Plans into Overdrive

"Saguaro Cactus"
My tail is dragging; how about yours? Sooo hard to get back to work after the holidays; and, of course, another celebration is looming ahead.

I’ve been on the fly, literally. We had company on Christmas day, and the next morning, we flew out for my grandson’s wedding in Phoenix, Arizona. I had jet lag the whole time we were there. Couldn’t sleep in the full-sized bed (no tossing and turning allowed!) and kept awake by strange and unfamiliar noises.

A fallen cactus, petrifying; illustrates how pourus they are

On the return flight, Sunday, I simply couldn’t keep my eyes open. I spent the whole flight bobbing my head and snapping my neck whenever my mouth began to sag. Our flight had a layover in Indianapolis and left an hour late because of a freezing rain. The warmth that greeted us when we stepped off the plane in Fort Myers was a huge welcome home.
"Joshua Tree" and desert terrain
I once lived in Phoenix, so I was eager to return and find out what I’d missed. Couldn’t believe the changes that had taken place! The city had gone from a sleepy, Mexican hacienda-like atmosphere to a thriving metropolis with super highways and luxury accommodations. Still, the desert’s resounding voice spoke volumes about constancy, permanency, and the wisdom of the ages.

Saguaro cacti, the sentinels of the desert, reminded us of our eternal nature and the timeless quality of our existence. I photographed Joshua Trees, prickly pear cactus, and the unusual vegetation and trees that grow in spite of the intense heat of summer. For we Floridians, the evening temperatures seemed frigid; plunging from a daytime high of 74 and then back to 46 degrees overnight.

My fourth child was born in Phoenix. This was her first time back since she was three years old. One of our family pleasures was to take walks on the desert floor in late January and February when the cacti were in bloom. Colorful splotches of pink, yellow, and red were masterfully dotted over the terrain with a Master’s brush. The sand underfoot became a velvet cover of green that would burn off by mid March.

There is magic in the desert. Silence is broken only by the chirp of a bird or the monotone humming of bees. There is space. The vastness of the land spreads endlessly before you and as far as the eye can see making you feel small and insignificant in return; a good place to put your life in perspective. Problems seem minuscule in comparison.

I wish we’d spent more time there. When I made the reservations, I was thinking in “wedding” terms only. Now I wish we had stuffed in a few extra days for sightseeing and pleasure. As always, hind sight is more valuable than making snap judgments. I hope your holidays were well spent and enjoyed. In the meantime, Happy New Year everyone!
"another Joshua Tree"

"prickly pear" cactus

Site of a family hike; all the way up to the rock ridges and the top!