Pretty biting

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, April 25, 2017 10:27 PM

Everything bites. Angrily. Heartily. Hungrily. Feedingly. Dogs bite, cats bite, horses can bite. Spiders, turtles, snakes. Until we immersed ourselves in the luxury of the desert, we didn’t realize how much plants bite. 

In Little Shop of Horrors, Audrey is a plant that bites. It needs human blood to survive. The Venus fly trap, described as a carnivorous plant, has teeth-like leaves that open and trap its prey. Neither one of these plants is particularly attractive; they’re not pretty.

In the Sonoran desert, the plants are majestic, flowing and, in my opinion, beautiful. They’re not like the plants of other parts of the country. I’m not even sure they’re like plants elsewhere in the world. I know there are other deserts, but each environment, each landscape is different. The desert in Tucson is different than the desert going up to, through and beyond Phoenix. That desert is desolate, brown. It looks dirty. Our desert is green. It might be considered lush except lush normally means rich, soft, plush; intoxicating. Our desert is green and gorgeous, and now that it’s spring it’s bursting with color and flowers. Also, it’s prickly. It bites. 

Today there was a Gila monster skirting the outer edges of the driveway. He turned into the rock wall and free-climbed vertically, up and over. It was pale pink and washed out black with hardly any tail. It disappeared over the wall and into the desert. Gila monsters bite, scarily. They move relatively slowly and when someone or something, like a dog, get in their way, they bite. Their jaws snap and lock. It’s not pretty. 

All around the Gila monster were prickly pears and hedgehog cactus and munz cholla and whipple cholla. All were flowering. All have needles. If you get too close, they all bite. Definitely not pretty. 

The trees have thorns, the brush have thorns, the thorns have thorns. If you get too close to anything, it bites, sometimes harshly, sometimes just a little nip, but it’s always a bite. 

I looked at the flowers on the prickly pears and the whipple cholla, gorgeous yellow, dancing in the sunlight and all I could think of was how beautiful they were and are. Pretty. And each one also maintains the ability to stick, to bite. 

Pretty and biting. A beautiful combination worth celebrating.

 

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