Even though it's been a near total drought winter season, some of the desert plants are truly spectacular this year. One such plant is the palo verde tree. Whenever we see such an incredibly colorful display, our thoughts always wander back to so-called pre-historic times when Natives with no written language called this desert home. The pre-settlement vegetation in the Sonoran Desert must have been incomprehensibly beautiful back then. It's hard to imagine the natural splendor and beauty of an unmolested desert. Today, virtually all areas of the desert have been heavily impacted by cattle and sheep grazing, roads, power and pipelines, mining, off-road recreation, illegal dumping and, of course, the perpetual octopus of urban sprawl.
Most of the beautiful desert plants we see up close and personal were planted as ornamentals to brighten up a parking lot or make a building look pretty. So it was with this palo verde. It grows up and shows off in a Wal-Mart parking lot near Baseline and Country Club at the south edge of Mesa, Arizona. Even though it is surround by asphalt and motor vehicles, such a tree can still inspire the spirit and fuel the imagination.