Capturing the Moment — Death of A Giant Saguaro Cactus   10 comments

A casualty of extreme weather, July 2011 — Image by kenne

inspiration for “Nude Runners” November 2011 — Image by kenne

Nude Runners 1st Posted November 10, 2010 — Image by kenne

Saguaro Cactus are large trees that live to be hundreds of years old. It is one of the defining plants of the Sonoran Desert. Like this Saguaro in Tanuri Ridge, these plants are giant, tree-like columnar cacti that develop branches (or arms) as they age, although some never grow arms. The number of arms and the likely age of this particular plant may have helped shorten this plant’s life due to the current long drought and unusually cold weather this past winter. Our Saguaro was one impressive plant when I first photographed it last November. I’m sure that over the life of this plant, it experienced harsh conditions, but none as severe as the previous nine months. Even with some of the arms reaching down to help support this giant (most Saguaro arms point up), our freaky weather took its toll.

Its many arms help depict many images in one’s “mind’s eye,” i.e., runners embracing one another at the finish line, or a symbol of, “He out heavy, he’s my brother.” Although the age of this plant is hard for this novice to determine, the Saguaro rarely grows its arms until after the age of 75. Definitely a slow maturer, the cactus only puts up a main stem or spike for three-quarters of a century, during which it might grow as high as a foot after fifteen years and even seven feet after fifty years. Yet, for many, they may still not have any arms. As the images show, this “big guy” in Tanuri Ridge had a lot of arms, all of which now lie helpless on the ground near the Rillito River.

This is a significant loss to those who walk the Tanuri Ridge trails along the riverside. However, as someone who loves to “capture the moment,” the two (several exist from each shooting) I have near the end of its long life only cause one to challenge the imagination as to other moments that might have been captured over the years. For example, at one time, there was running water in the river with large cottonwoods lining its edge — just imagine! Such imaginative moments are priceless.

— kenne

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