Mighty Saguaro bones.  I didn’t realize, until I was culling through my photo library, that I appear to have a fascination with decaying saguaros.  It seems my camera gravitates toward them, capturing their unique personalities, even in death.

There is a beauty in their decline. An elegance in their passing. And life beyond the hundreds of years that they stood tall.

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This rare crested saguaro is visible from my kitchen window. In just a year’s time, it has decayed and declined to near non-recognition. (Photo credit: Melissa Crytzer Fry)


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The hardened skin of the decaying saguaro resembles tree bark after years in the sun. (Photo credit: Melissa Crytzer Fry)

As my good friend (and plant fanatic) noted, “Saguaros even provide habitat in their death for countless insects and mammals. They’re kind of alive, even when they’re dying.”

Yes, so true. So, while I want to pay homage to the great saguaro in its living form, I also want to honor it in all of its magnificent stages.

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A close-up of a decaying saguaro’s “skin,” brittle and dry to human touch.  (Photo credit: Melissa Crytzer Fry)

I will be posting a multi-part Saguaro Series (check out part I — Desert Diversity, Saguaro Style)  about this species of cactus in its different stages of life and death – including various photos I’ve snapped over the past year – hoping to document the beauty and wonder of these alluring “trees” of the desert. I also hope to share the inspiration they are providing for my WIP (work in progress).

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(Photo credit: Melissa Crytzer Fry)

I have to admit that I suspect Mother Nature has been toying with me a bit lately … sending some subliminal messaging, perhaps, since my novel-in-progress deals with themes of life and death. Maybe that’s why I’m confronted with so many living, dying, decaying, beating-the-odds saguaro cacti during my hikes. Or could it just be that my senses are acutely tuned in to my theme? Then again, maybe the saguaro is simply my muse?

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(Photo credit: Melissa Crytzer Fry)

Do you agree that there can be beauty in death?

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(Photo credit: Melissa Crytzer Fry)


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(Photo credit: Melissa Crytzer Fry)


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(Photo credit: Melissa Crytzer Fry)

Do you enjoy books and movies that tackle tough topics like life and death, or are they just too “dark” for you? If you find yourself drawn to these stories, why? And when you’re reading, writing, or watching do you begin to see thematic significance in the things around you that you might not otherwise have noticed?

Original version published at WHAT I SAW. Reposted, in full, with permission of the author.


6 thoughts on “Mighty Saguaro Bones”

  1. Thanks, Linda. I love my saguaros in all their various states of life and decline!

    1. LOVE saguaros. LOVE your awesome pics of them! Thank you for sharing! Totally off the wall, but that first picture of the Saguaro that looks like a Kachina… every time I look at it I hear Andre the Giant from the Princess Bride saying in my head “I am the Dread Pirate Roberts”.

      1. I need to watch the Princess Bride again! (And yay for SEO!)

  2. Your photos were very dramatic and really did bring up thoughts of death and dying. I really like how the saguaro supports life, as it is progressing toward its last moments.

    1. Thank you, Elaine. I went for a desert ride today and, once again, my camera found lots of saguaro skeletons!

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