When I came across this guy (don’t know what it is, frankly), he was clinging to a blade of desert grass, and the just-rising sun was illuminating him perfectly. He sparkled like a ruby red slipper.
An interesting caterpillar-type creature spotted alongside a dry desert wash in Southeastern Arizona. Click to enlarge.
Okay. I’m being dramatic with my word choice. He looks nothing like a ruby slipper (aside from some red tinges), but very much like a creature from a horror film. And maybe more disturbing is the fact that I seem to always assign a male gender to each of my animal/insect encounters. What does that mean?
At any rate, that bright color glistening in the midst of the summer’s drab desert hues really captured my attention. As I ran along on my morning jog, I thought how much he stood out … Which then made me think of the so-called “oddballs” of this world. The girl with purple hair. The guy who likes to tell himself stories on the bus. The girl who secretly has an extra toe-nail on her pinkie toe that she hides under her socks. The family that collects junk and turns it into art.
It’s our differences that make us unique – just like the characters in the novels we read (and write). Just like the characters in our lives. We should embrace them, because they make the world a more interesting place.
Logic would tell most of us that, after months of the summer’s scorching 100-plus-degree desert heat, few things could grow, let alone thrive. I mean, we have reached the 110’s multiple times (and the temperature on the desert floor can skyrocket to 130 degrees or higher).
This persistent palo verde sprout literally moves the earth to make its way to the light. In their infancy, these trees-in-the-making resemble bean sprouts (no surprise, since the tree is a cousin among the legume family). Click to enlarge.
I’ve been so thrilled the past two weeks to see this new life pushing upward, bursting through the once rock-hard soil against all odds. The palo verde sprouts I’m seeing are so abundant, in fact, that they’re difficult not to trample during hikes and jogs. (I probably look like I’m hopping through a minefield in my own quest not to crush them)!
I often think, if they all survived, how green and lush the desert landscape would be. But I know from glancing around at the desert floor that only a handful will reach maturity. Even knowing that sad reality, it truly is amazing to see the miraculous rebirth of the desert after the monsoon rains.
For Writers: I can’t help but draw a parallel between these little sprouts and my quest for publication (and the quest of countless others). The palo verde is emerging in much the same way that I’m pushing and fighting my way through the novel-publishing process, trying to make my way to the top of the agent query pile, emerging as the full-time, published novelist I strive to be. Fingers crossed that I am one of the “palo verdes” who makes it!