Monday, May 29, 2006

Love That Life Force

Way back in the 50s, an audio production of GB Shaw's Don Juan in Hell was a popular record. It featured (sigh) Charles Boyer as the Don, with a major discussion of the persistence of the Life Force. About as spiritual as GBS ever got!

I think of the persistence of life periodically, especially in the drought-ridden West. I'm always impressed at how lush the Arizona desert is, even in the driest times.

I'm also impressed at how floral and faunal creatures persist in the face of major obstacles. Take the sprouting sycamore above. It's right at the Sharlot Hall corner of Gurley and McCormick.

Several years ago -- maybe five or six -- this large tree was cut down, because, like most sycamores, it had shallow roots. The kind that tilt sidewalk squares and cause Hazardous Conditions for pedestrians. The diameter of the trunk, as you can see, was sizeable, maybe 15 or more inches across.

Apparently that sycamore has a good system of roots because every year, it tries to make a tree again. And every year the powers that be, no doubt mindful of the liability lawyers, cut the new growth back.

You gotta admire the persistence of that sycamore!

Then there are the mariposa lilies in bloom right now on the Sheldon Street slope next the Masonic cemetery. Not much else growing there this year; look closely and you'll see dried leaves and dry grass surrounding the blossom. And the recent winds haven't been kind to some of the flowers, either.

But these mariposas are persistent! This the only stand of mariposas remaining in the city that I am aware of. The old Citizens Cemetery on E. Sheldon did have a splendid batch of mariposas (as well as paintbrush) before the professional tidiers cleaned things up; I don't know if any survived the civilizers.

All the Prescott mariposas are of the white variety. Go north along SR 89 and the lilies are a buttery yellow.
The brilliant red-orange desert mariposas are a lot more common in the region than most people are aware.

One location where we found them in the past: Tonto Rd. near the intersection with Contreras Rd. which branches off Iron Springs Rd. (That's roughly where the current fire is/was burning). I've seen mariposas along the highway embankment near the Skull Valley cemetery, as well as along the road between Skull Valley and Kirkland. Another location: Kirkland Junction.

But for the most spectacular combination, my vote goes to the Orme Rd. off Hwy. 169. Along this road, in a good year, you will find the white-to-lavender mariposas at the higher elevations giving way to the brilliant oranges on lower slopes. Often the two grow next to each other at the transition zone.

By the way, I am not suggesting that you'll find blossoms at these sites this year -- I haven't checked them out for several years. And it's probably a little late in the season for the oranges, anyhow.

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