Monday, August 12, 2013

the desert

Growing up in Miami Beach, then living in New York and Connecticut for so many years, I was used to humidity and green-ness. The desert has neither, but this is the monsoon season, meaning that we get rain fairly often, sometimes a bit every day, sometimes a heavy rainstorm that sends water rushing into the arroyos with great force. I live near the Santa Fe River bed, which used to actually be a river, but is an arroyo now. Arroyos are dry stream beds that fill with water occasionally, during heavy rains. They can be dangerous actually, because if anyone is in there and the water starts to flow, it can cause drownings. We get flash flood warnings here when that's about to happen, but maybe the kids playing didn't get the alert.

Anyway, during monsoon season, the desert starts to grow grasses and things and it actually looks green around here. Also, flowers bloom. It's interesting that the landscape here is at its most beautiful in September. I've posted about the aspen trees in the past. Today I'm posting a photo of a plant I'm kind of obsessed with, jimsonweed. The bush we walk by is pretty large and the flowers are large-ish too so I can see from afar when it's in bloom. For a while it was so dry, no flowers to be seen, but lately every morning it's got lots of them. They bloom at night so by noon they're closed. They don't last long at all. I'm pretty convinced that they only bloom once, but a friend says that's not so. This plant is very poisonous, which makes it more exotic seeming and a little sinister.

Georgia O'Keeffe painted them often. Here's just one example. 

The plants in the desert are very sculptural and seem almost prehistoric. I try to capture them when they are in bloom but it seems like I never have my phone with me at the right time and the next time I walk by them the flowers are gone. The plant life can be very ephemeral. One day a cactus will look all brown and gnarly, and the next day a beautiful pink flower will have appeared.