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Many of life’s lessons can be learned from nature.

Join Elaine every Monday for insights on adoption and life.

Join Elaine every Monday for insights on adoption and life.

Much of what I call “adoption recovery” comes from walking and hiking in the Rocky Mountain foothills. My favorite spot for musing is Sun Mountain, affectionately known by its Spanish name, “Monte Sol.” Less than a mile up to the summit, it rises 700 feet and offers sweeping views of the high desert plateau, Sandia Peak to the East and the Jemez Mountains to the West.

Festooned in scarlet, this cactus brightens its dusty surroundings

Festooned in scarlet, this cactus brightens its dusty surroundings

Though short, the hike is demanding. The narrow path comprises several hundred switchbacks and a bit of scrambling across boulders. The surface is gravelly. Feet can slip right out from under, landing you on your derriere. Once at the top, however, you are rewarded with a panoramic landscape painting: The distant mountains and mesas offer layers of purple, blue, sage, sand, and green. Over-arching you is a dome of sky and an-ever changing show of clouds. It is the kind of view that to many, me included, means home.
There are gifts along the path as well. Because of late spring rains, we’ve enjoyed a season of blooming cacti. For years, I’ve taken these blossoms for granted. It is said that nature heals, and I’m finding that to be true. Because of freeing myself from constant focus on adoption issues, I’ve been more tuned in to the unique beauty of cacti. Also—don’t laugh—I learned a valuable lesson from these native Southwestern plants.
Bloom where you are planted, they seem to tell me. The cacti know that they may never be showcased in someone’s cherished garden, proudly displayed like heirloom roses or bragged on like proud dalhias. Many will be regarded as reminders of drought, dust, wind and harshness. They may be considered prickly pests, ugly opportunists who hang out with dead trees, surrounded by a scree of fallen pine needles, dry dirt, twigs and fallen pine cones.
No doubt, conditions here in the Southwest are dangerously dry. We may be running out of potable water and — according to many environmentalists — we are definitely running out of time. Still, one can

Not to be outdone, the prickly pear offers a radiant burst of yellow.

Not to be outdone, the prickly pear offers a radiant burst of yellow.

celebrate the lowly cactus as a plant that thrives without water and gives back with brilliant flowers.
It is amazing to find such unexpected beauty bursting forth from the lowly cacti. The “Triglo” claret cup boast scarlet blooms; prickly pears are festooned with blossoms  that range from lemon yellow to marigold, pale coral, pink and mauve. They are a source of unexpected joy, reminders that beauty exists everywhere, if only one has the eyes to see.

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