March 21, 2012

Tucson. March, 2011

My friends Simon and David have lived in here in the Southwest for almost 25 years now. Simon grew up in New England, David the Midwest. They were no strangers to cold winters back then. But now? Babies! They have become so acclimated to desert living that whenever I visit in late winter or early spring, their car and home heaters are often blasting, they’re bundled up whenever they step outside. The native plantings, too, are used to a certain level of warmth. On my recent trip there, Simon told me that a cold snap in late February (2011) had sent temperatures plummeting to five degrees, and that the cold settled in for several days with disastrous results for the desert flora. Prickly pear cactus drooped and died. Outdoor succulents that usually have no trouble wintering over, this year became frosted and decimated. Even the iconic and stately Saguaros are in jeopardy, their fate still uncertain until the effects of the cold are fully realized. Still, you’d never know that things had become so unbalanced by the look of David’s garden, seen here in the morning light of early March.

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