IMG_5831 2The Southwest is home for me. Specifically, Texas is my adopted state. I have grown to love it here.

Family and friends draw me back to the West Coast and the Great Lakes. Life has made each of these remarkable regions of our great nation home for a decade at a time. Blood or bonds still make those welcome sites for a fulfilling visit.

Vacations or extended business trips are a part of life adventures. Nevertheless, it is always wonderful to return home. The Southwest has been home for nearly a decade.

There were days when images of huge cacti were a novel sight for me. I expected John Wayne and the Calvary in blue seemed to be close by, ready to sound “Charge!” or drawl the noted Western greeting, “Howdy, Pilgrim.” Now, the terrain with its unique flora and fauna is beyond a greeting; it is the language of my neighborhood.

Don’t misunderstand me, though. Normal does not mean dismissed or ignored. Now, it is even more appreciated. In fact it is the object of my marvel and worth a long lingering gaze.

The Saguaro cactus is unique not strange. It is admired not a sign of desolation. Survival with meager rations of water, armor of prickly thorns, and ancient years of desert sentry duties serve as a testimony of this symbol of the Wild West.

My head turns and I smile like seeing a familiar neighbor. Fewer options of life exists in the vast desert. Like a comforting landmark, this gigantic sentry is steady, consistent, and certain.

God not only decked parts of his earthly great creation with lush foliage, he chose a different design for the dry arid lands. Tough people live in this region. Creativity and determination are commonly shared among my fellow Texans.

The presence and faith in the Almighty is strong here. It comes with chiseling out a living in a land that is not friendly to a life of ease. But, discipline, hard work, and determination find a worthwhile living in a land whose heat frightens away the soft and lazy. It shapes the character of those who are driven, hungry, and determined.

The Saguaro stands for all of that. Maybe there are more beautiful finalists for plant of the planet. But, there is no more a tougher candidate than the majestic cactus. It’s time to tip our Stetson to the giant Saguaro, symbol of the rugged and faithful Westerners of the great Southwest.

photo by bwfong