Stopping and Smelling the (Saguaro) Blossoms

The blessings associated with slowing down continue to roll in for me.

Before we begin, it must be pointed out that I’m certainly not the wisest or the brightest. I did not have the wisdom to say, “I’m running too hard and too fast, I’m going to change my life so I can better appreciate my awesome family, incredible friends, and much more of our wonderful world.”

No, for me, it took my body saying, “No mas, amigo.”

While I am not thrilled with having so many of the things I loved in life (like biking, hiking, playing any kind of ball, or even spending a single day pain free) being removed at what many might say is a far too early age, I am eternally grateful for the many blessings associated with ‘new eyes.’ New eyes and a very bad back!

But, arguably stimulated by my bad back, I am seeing old things in new ways. A great example of this is illustrated by my springtime focus on photographing Arizona’s ancient saguaros.

While I have loved and appreciated the magnificent splendor that saguaros add to our inimitable Sonoran Desert landscape, I never benefitted from a close up look at them.  This year was different as I focused, in particular, on the spectacular blossoms that the mature saguaros bring us each May and June.

It is easy to see why In 1901 the saguaro’s blossom was adopted as the certified territorial flower. Then, in 1931, it was confirmed as Arizona’s official state flower. The blossoms were being appreciated by desert dwellers long before then; they had to be because it takes up to 75 years for a saguaro to develop a single side arm.  What I missed by ‘drive by’ appreciation of these tree-sized cactus species was how they truly spark the Sonoran Desert circle of life.

This year, I got up close to the blossoms. Really close. So close I couldn’t distinguish whether the noise is my head was my labored breathing or the bees breathing down my neck. I guess logic would have told me the blossoms would attract bees, but I had no idea how a close up look would reveal that virtually every single flower was adopted was by a single eusocial bee colony.

Bees are the major type of pollinator in ecosystems that contain flowering plants. It has been said the Sonoran Desert is arguably the most flower-abundant desert in the world. It sure seemed that way this spring.

It is estimated that one third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination, most of which is accomplished by bees. As a result, the spark of life for much of the Arizona food chain begins at the saguaro blossom.

Seeing the world around me in new, more personal ways has been a staggering, mind-blowing miracle. I just pray that our readers get the same opportunity, and that it doesn’t take a devastating event for ‘everything to be made new’ in your life. And, if you have experienced tragedy or tremendous loss, I pray that you too zoom in on the blessings that follow.

Photoart by Greg

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4 thoughts on “Stopping and Smelling the (Saguaro) Blossoms

    • Thanks, Tom! For our readers, Tom Benson is the former Publisher of Midwest Living and is currently publishing the very entertaining Networking Newsletter. Although largely aimed at the tourism industry and travelers, it is filled with great information briefs and lots of interesting insights for all. Sign up for Tom’s newsletter by contacting him at:

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