Naked Ladies and Other Beauties

I’ve spent most of my life in deserts, first in Colorado, and more recently in a high corner of the Mojave Desert. (Colorado might not seem like a desert since it has tillable soil and no cactuses. What makes it a desert is the lack of surface water. Only Colorado’s white gold — the deep mountain snow — makes the state an oasis. Without water, very little but scrub grows naturally.)

It seems odd then, after a lifetime’s experience of how difficult it is to grow anything, to find myself in an area where things grow almost by accident.

In my walks about town, I see naked ladies everywhere. These pink lily-like flowers of the amaryllis are so named because the flowers grow on naked stems, long after the leaves are gone. But knowing the name doesn’t make these foliage-free flowers any more lovely, especially since I’ve never seen them before.

Nor have I ever seen azaleas, and now a lovely red bloom greets me every morning.

Most surprising, considering my total inability to cultivate rhododendrums, I’ve seen the bounteous bushes growing in the woods.

But everything seems to grow in this fertile place, holly and ivy and a lushness of greenery growing upon other greenery.

And oh, did I forget to mention wild blackberries? Most are not ripe yet, but even so, I manage to find few luscious berries on almost every trek.

What an incredible world we live in. So much diversity! I can only stand in awe, and give thanks.

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(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

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