"Saguaro National Park is incredibly green and lush" the video at the visitor center proclaimed. Looking out to the desert landscape, my Pacific Northwest roots quickly questioned this idea, but I knew that the only way to find out for sure was to get curious and go explore. Growing up among evergreen forests, I recognize that my standard for what constitutes to be "green" is a bit outrageous. So off we went in the late morning sun-- just us and the desert.
I had an idea of what "lush" and "green" meant-- a solitary, prescriptive definition, until I got to the desert. The desert land of Saguaro NP was filled to the brim with wild, quirky plants that looked like they once belonged on the ocean floor. The trail of bright sand, illuminated in the midday sun, wound lazily through Arizona's largest natural terrarium. It was a strange walk, one that opened my eyes to seeing things differently.
There is an unexpected lushness in the desert. A diversity of colors, shapes, and textures coat the sandy floor of the cactus forest. Animals pop their heads out of small holes during the hottest part of the day, awaiting their chance to roam more comfortably at night. With every step, you can sense them there, napping the afternoon away, hiding among the flora.
Had I never taken this strange walk, I would never know all of the forms lushness and beauty can take in a forest. I wouldn't know the true beauty and strength of the desert. And I would have removed an opportunity to be challenged creatively and intellectually. Keeping our minds open and walking that path is good for us. So I'm going to take more strange walks, be they on a trail or in a discussion, and I think you might want to try it, too. You'll be surprised at what you find.