Friday, October 28, 2005

Some Things Never Change

When I was young, I collected fossils. It was very easy to do, as the majority of the rocks around our house were brought up from the dynamite explosion needed to give our house a basement. Shale is great for holding fossils. I also collected rocks from our annual trips to the beach in Maine. I didn't really care about the water or the beach, but the rocks always caught my eye. (Especially the nifty mica-filled ones.) When I was older still, I brought back rocks from excursions to the Herkimer Diamond Mine. In short, I had several shoeboxes filled with rocks in my closet. And they stayed there for years, untouched and unappreciated, because I had moved out.

We went exploring again today, but this time much closer to home. We walked down to the golf course, and on the way back we bypassed the pavement and came through the desert. In my defense... my wife started it. She picked up an interesting piece of dried cane cholla cactus. (This isn't the piece, this is just a random graphic.) The stuff is very cool. Nature's wiffle. It was apparently used as a walking stick at one time because it's light, straight, and durable. (Hence the name "cane" cholla.)

We also found some Devil's Claw, a.k.a. Unicorn Plant. These are also very cool, because they do indeed look and feel like claws. The claw part is actually the seed pod, and its mode of distribution is to latch on to a passing large animal to be carried and deposited as it dries and the seeds fall out. (Take that, acorns!) These aren't soft, mushy plants here. Those are called claws for a reason. They're sharp, and they'll catch on your skin as easily as your clothes if you're not careful.

No, I did not get cut by one. I did, however, get a nice little cut on my thumb from a fishhook barrel cactus. How did it cut my thumb? Why, because I was dislodging one of its fruits, of course. They should call it a "meathook cactus" instead of a "fishhook". Fishhooks are small, and would be much more preferable to have tearing into your flesh. If you're into that kind of thing.

We also picked up a few rocks. Not many, and certainly not as many as I wanted to. But, as is usual for us, we were doing something for which we were not fully prepared. We had no bags with us other than our camera bags, but luckily yours truly had on his now-trademark cargo shorts with pockets aplenty. I did not, however, have my hat. (Yeah, yeah, I know.) Even though it's cooler, my shiny head can't be exposed to the Arizona sun for long. We carried our desert treasures back home. One of us will post pictures of the "before" and "after" shots of the stuff, as we plan on doing something artsy-craftsy with it all. We'll head out again sometime soon. And yes, I'll wear my hat.

Oh, in case you were wondering... we both had our eyes fully peeled and searching for rattlesnakes.

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