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Saguaro and Ocotillo

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  • Saguaro and Ocotillo

    I bring to you a story as old as the sands of time, yet as young as the winds of change. I have known it for all of my days in Texas, and it was told to me by Senor Saguaro himself during my wanderings in the Mojave Desert where I chanced to meet him and hear his tale...

    Old Man Saguaro stands tall; sometimes barrel round, sometimes withered and frail for any who care to glance in his direction. In spite of his timeless countenance he has not always been the Old Saguaro he is today. Once, in the early days of the desert people, he was a young saguaro. He crept quietly where the jack rabbit took shelter from the mid-day sun, he knew how to collect water with stone on a skin over a hole in the ground. On long journeys he put a river rock in his mouth and it kept away the demons that rose from the desert sands and led overheated travelers to their untimely ends.

    As time comes and goes, Saguaro came of an age where he wished for the companionship of a wife to warm his nights, and fill the silence of his rooms with the sounds of life and love.

    Ocatlin was the eldest daughter of a singer from the northern plains. Lovely as a cactus blossom, she had a voice that all at once was like rain on the rocks, and the wind in the canyons. She was much loved by her friends, but very much alone in the world after her fathers passing.

    To make a long story short; Ocatlin and Saguaro met and all at once it was love. Saguaro and Ocotilla had many adventures and filled their home with strong and kind children who later went on to have many adventures of their own. For this tale though, we shall remain with our Senor Saguaro. As families do, his was growing up quickly, and he and his beloved Ocotilla were growing old. He had always hoped that he would leave this world before she, but sadly this was not to be.

    One late night, he sat by his smoky fire of grass and brush, and watched young couples going about the business of village life. Some were leading children off to bed, others talked and laughed quietly silhouetted by their fires glowing against the backdrop of the dark sky and Old Saguaro sat alone and stared at the stars. He thought about his Ocatlin, willowy and tall, with a voice like whispering winds. Looking out across the desert he saw a shadow rise from the sands.

    Saguaro climbed to his feet and began walking, past the yucca and past the cholla, ignoring the sting of blown gravel and sand in his eyes or the scratch of thistle against his parched skin. He heard her voice on the breeze. She was near, and he would go to her. With each step he felt renewed hope, so close- she was there; so close. He walked as the sun, cresting hilltop after hilltop raising his arms to meet his love, each time, finding as before only endless valleys of shifting sand.

    As the sun crested the mountains it became clear that Ocotilla was no more present than the waning shadows of the desert blossoms. Vulture circled in the sky above.

    The winds stirred the dust into spiraling cyclones and Old Saguaro lifted his arms attempting to shield his face from the whirling debris. He fell to his knees, and turned to face what was once his home. The dust cloud engulfed him.

    He stands now today, as Old Man Saguaro, sometimes barrel round, sometimes withered and frail for any who care to glance in his direction. In spite of his timeless countenance he has not always been the old man he is today, waving to the travelers who pass through his desert.

    Not so very far away, just over the next hilltop grows Ocotillo, reaching skyward and sometimes whispering, in a voice that is all at once like rain on the rocks, and the wind in the canyon.

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