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South Mountain Spring Flowers

Our guest from Japan left on Tuesday and her departure has left a void in our life. Mizuki has actually been sick — most likely from an excess of partying with just a touch of sadness, missing our new friend. To keep myself busy, I turned to our favorite annual chore — income taxes (he says sarcastically). They were mostly done and I just had to put the finishing touches on them.

Having completed that obligation, I was free to do my favorite Sunday exercise, hiking in South Mountain Park. The weather was beautiful, just perfect for a nice hike. Even this return to normalcy brought back memories of Pi-chan's visit. She went hiking with me both Sundays that she was here. I did warn her to watch for snakes — a standard practice in Arizona that one does not need to follow in Tokyo. Of course, her way to guard against snakes was to walk directly behind me — I assume she figured that if we encountered a snake, it would bite me and leave her alone. Since I have yet to see a snake in South Mountain Park, I wasn't too worried.

The entrance road bisects several holes of the Phantom Horse Golf Course. The transition from landscaped fairways and manicured greens to native desert is abrupt and beautiful. The contrast tells you instantly that you are leaving the city and hopefully, the cares of the city behind.

It didn't take long before I encountered — no, not a snake — but springtime in the desert in the form of flowering cacti — the majestic saguaro cactus. Not all the saguaros are in bloom yet, so there is still time to catch this springtime show.

For those of you who do not know, one of the major pollinators of the saguaro cactus is a bat — actually two different species of bat, the lessor long-nosed bat and the Mexican long-tongued bat. They feed on the pollen (for protein) and nectar (for sugars) during the night.

Isn't it interesting that many people fear or even loath bats — yet they actually provide service to humans without even charging.

And still no snakes.

The following two pictures feature two other kinds of flowering cacti — although I don't know the varieties. Pretty, n'est-pas?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to confess that borrowed Mizuki's digital camera (Canon SD450) for my Sunday hike. It is a very small camera but takes lovely photos. When you're hiking, weight is everything — and this camera is definitely lighter than my Nikon D100.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com