It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, not the object being viewed. We can look at a rose, an orchid, a tulip and exclaim how beautiful it is. Sometimes there is even awe when we gaze at them.
I came across this plant while doing the land blessing in Hueco Tanks park in El Paso, Texas last week. “What a sad little plant!” I exclaimed. I felt drawn to photograph it and the more I looked at the picture, the more I explored why I was drawn to it. Here is what this plant taught me.
I can look at this plant and choose to see the sharp spines that I know will hurt me if I’m not careful. I can look at it and see a sad little plant, shriveled and twisted. I can look and see its shadow self behind it which makes a unique daunting pattern.
I can also look at it through eyes of love and adoration for what it is, a remarkable part of our desert ecosystem with so much to offer us. This particular plant is a cholla and the more I research it, the more I love it! The Native Americans harvest the buds and either eat them raw or cooked, which I understand tastes like a “ fantastical combination of green bean, artichoke heart and asparagus.”
Many birds, wrens in particular, build their nests in these plants because they can maneuver through the spines (with a lot of practice I’m sure) and they are protected from predators who would feast on their eggs or offspring.
The cholla, along with other cacti, hold their breath until evening and then exhale oxygen at night when their stomata are open and inhale carbon dioxide! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
This little plant has taught me a monumental lesson and helped me understand that the way we look at things and other people is important. If we go beyond the surface, beyond first appearances, beyond the obvious, we may just find a treasure that adds to our life immensely. Namaste Y’all