Essay: Cactus Flower
By: Raymond Greiner
Intensity eludes description as the burden of time serves memories as a dinner for one, flashing images on the walls of our minds biting back at loneliness in a medley of solitary thoughts ranging from delight to horror. Our fare of memories can serve joyful times with laughter and agile movements of youth reflecting goals fulfilled and unfulfilled; yet, zeal lingers and we continue. This late life trail offers lower hills with vistas of new designs, a less cluttered spectrum during autumn years. This wilderness can be plagued with lurking dangers, but rewards remain. Despair is the enemy, to be fought with vigor, seeking blossoms in our lives. They are soldiers combating despair.
Navigating this time brings memories of the desert, a place appearing lifeless and void of color. No cathedrals’ as found in Yosemite. I once trekked the desert, a long trail, and at the beginning I felt isolation, this seemed a horrid place, so hot, with an abandoned look, no green, no tall trees to offer shade. One must hike in the desert to understand it; you must hunker down in your sleeping bag during a cold desert night, and fall asleep, wondering if a scorpion will seek comfort from the warmth of your boots. You must experience the blinding sunrise, with its welcome heat, soon to be less welcome. As I ventured further life appears in varied forms, Horned Toads, Gila Monsters and Jack Rabbits, with many species of snakes. Tarantulas are common, with plants appearing dead, but their roots go deep and they blossom when a rare rainfall occurs and are among the oldest living things on the planet. I became acquainted with the desert during this hike. Near the end of my trek I found a grove of cactus with magnificent flowers, and it was vividly apparent the desert is a simile of life, displayed in all of nature. As we wander forth in twilight years the desert is symbolic of challenges we face, we must look close. Cactus flowers are waiting.