Sabino Canyon RA, Tucson, Arizona, USA by Bruce Hucko

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Picture Story

Though not quite a "tree," the saguaro cacti of Sabino Canyon Recreation Area near Tucson and all across the desert southwest are often referred to as a "forest." This image was made on the return hike from 7-Falls, a remarkable walk and destination, especially for we snowbound dwellers of the Colorado Plateau who sought a little mid-winter relief by spending Christmas in Tucson. Though the days were shorter, the light streaming over the canyon sides near the end of the day beautifully backlit the forest as we made our descent. I could've stopped at every bend in the trail, but did not. I did find the overlapping hillsides, greenery and the touch of orange/yellow in the one large singular tree appealing to my eye. While nudging the tripod left and right to get a good alignment with all of the "participants" without getting nailed in the calves by one of the many other species of cacti that inhabit these hills. And lastly the light on the stream draws you towards it, increasing the sense of depth. Somewhere down the next bend or the next is a cold beer!

Years ago while photographing and producing the 3-projector interpretive slide show for Organ Pipe Cactus NM, I learned from local Tohono O'dham elders and cultural specialists that in their language the word for "the People" and the saguaro is the same - o'odham. A cultural story complements this belief. It is told that once an O'odham family neglected their children. The earth took them in and they came back as the first saguaro. There are lessons in the landscape. Human and cartoon imagination often depict saguaro with human characteristics. This cultural story makes it hard for me to see this forest as anything but a moving gathering of people walking towards the setting sun.

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