In January of 2009, I traveled by car from Austin, Texas to San Francisco, California. My trips before that time had been uneventful as far as problems, but this time, distracted by the views or perhaps daydreaming as I drove, I entered the wrong East-West interstate highway.
I had driven quite a long distance before I realized my mistake. Ach! Miles and miles off track. I took an exit in Arizona, and stopped in a quiet fast food Mexican restaurant parking lot to ponder my maps for options, and call to consult with family. The isolated corner of industrial buildings was very still in the sunlight, and I calmed. There was lots of concrete, not much in the way trees or plants.
All travel errors have some riches to offer. Here, near my car was a small unpaved space with one very tall and old saguaro. (You know saguaros, the kind of gentlemanly cactus that shows up in western paintings and cartoons, its arms upraised.)
Arizona is famous for its saguaros, and here with little effort, I could look at one up close. I wasn't prepared for its weighty stillness, the majesty of its size and its shadows when I looked up from beneath. What a cool and solemn silhouette poised against a very hot, blue sky. It was like finding a cave or a mountain hiding in a little patch of parking lot. I stood beneath the saquaro for a long time in a state of wonder.