dead saguaro

Resting Saguaro

dead saguaro
Saguaro: resting in peace.

This saguaro cactus died last winter during the freeze and fell to the ground beautifully intact, behind one of the Desert Lab buildings. I was struck by how beautiful this cactus still is, even in death. And this dead cactus continues to play its role as a keystone species by giving life to the nearby Sonoran Desert landscape. The decaying cactus becomes a rich ecosystem in itself, the best thing that has ever happened to that patch of desert soil. It provides a rich source of protection, fermenting sap, food, everything needed for a whole community of insects and other arthropods. There are species that specialize, only living in dead saguaros. I can’t remember how many species one researcher found in one dead saguaro. I will have to look up that list.

Understanding the world is a process of going more and more into the details. Maybe these details and the meanings we give them are infinite in number. Entomologists have found a gold mine of data in dead saguaros and science papers have been written on these niche ecosystems. I wonder if a poet would dig as deep as the scientist, maybe find different meanings in these same details.

I stitched this sequence of snapshots together, taken from a ladder, to record the whole cactus from above. Kind of a gods-eye view.

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