Sue met me in the parking lot of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and before we could finish proper introductions we are caught in some kind of desert-spell.
My travel guide points over my shoulder mid-sentence, and we pivot to witness a large Saguaro, it’s small root ball hanging vulnerably below, in the bucket of a bulldozer. Nearby is small team of men in matching t-shirts, a large hole, and a second large machine.
The saguaro’s little bunny ears make it seem particularly vulnerable, even as I sense a determination to preserve dignity. I feel protective of it.
Usually I pull away from loud noises, dangling root balls and any kind of operation. I’m no medic, and lack the skills to respond appropriately, so I’m sensitive to impending incidents. This scene had all the potential ingredients of an accident waiting to happen, and because of this, it’s possible I may not be able to watch it unfold.
Unaware of the silent tangle about to come to a head on my Innerstate, Sue gently nudges me to take a second look, and I turn toward the undertaking in progress, bracing myself against the internal collision that is already in play.
~ I await the transfer team bringing my 92 year old Gram back from the hospital after hip surgery, and observe two men wheeling my stretchered Gram toward me, too quickly for my comfort. I hear energetic conversation and see Gram’s eyes closed tightly against the momentum. As they take the corner into her room on a quick pivot, they don’t acknowledging me, and while going about their mindless work of delivering her from stretcher to bed, I whisper, “Please be Careful.” This whisper is too quiet and too late, and they release her fragile body three inches above where her warm bed was waiting to receive her, re-breaking her hip. ~
I was trained to whisper, but I’ve since learned to yell. I do a quick re-assessment of the current situation, to see if it is required now. But it isn’t, and I take a deep breath.
Time slows to a pace that allows me to be present in the present. I feel the air warming, and my body softens into the scene. It’s clear it doesn’t matter how long this takes; this operation won’t be rushed by those in charge.
The machinery, usually harsh and ominous to my ears, purrs and fades into the background. The men are intently focused on the task at had. Carpet protects the spines of the saguaro, and the hands of those supporting the cacti. The movement of the machines is strangely gentle.
The Arboretum recently received a donation of 5000 saguaros and they are each being carefully re-homed on site. The transplant success rate of desert plants is very high, I am relieved to hear. They have a lot of coping mechanisms to deal with environmental upheavel. No post-transplant watering for these patients; sulphur is added to the soil to dry it out instead.
The rest of the morning is a blur of meaningful conversation and life metaphors that left me high and happy. I feel I was given a back-stage pass to some fundamental act of caring and a taste of hope.
A final note. The saguaro we saw planted, which seemed big and old, was actually only a teenager of about 15 years. I should have known by the bunny ears. They made me smile. I can’t recall ever seeing another cacti with bunny ears like that until today.
The. Bunny. Ears.
Playfulness and dignity all in one place.
It’s actually not the first time, and I am flooded with a second memory, and it cradles me like a grandmother’s love.
Coming to you a-live, awake and in the company of my Ancestors in Arizonoa.