In Texas, In the summers, not much can grow. The heat beats down on all life, one hundred and ten degrees all day, flowers wilt in this sun, the pavement burns any roots that should sneak out of the soil and up in an attempt to grasp what little water might drop. The water that does drop doesn’t run off, it is evaporated into the endless miles of sky before it can reach the soil. Every day the sun boils, every day it beats down. And every day the plant life suffers.
Of the few beautiful plants that do grow are the succulents. Their roots are structured to withstand this particular torture. They reach down and out across the desert lands, not comfortable with a single place they instead draw their life from the surrounding area, holding onto each drop that falls as a memory, a recollection of a time before the heat, a time before the pavement, a time before the brutal boiling sun and the endless days of summer.
Day in and day out they collect this water. And Day in and day out they store.
The plant swells and burst with these collected days, as its roots grow and plant themselves firmly in the Texas soil, its body stretches up. Embracing the sun in a bitter defiance of its wrath. Day in and day out they grow towards the sun, with each vertical inch their body swells and hardens, days of rain, days of floods, days of droughts and attacks and hurricanes, all these days stored inside. The outer shell develops its spikes. In a desperate attempt to prevent the theft of its life, to prevent some outsider, some thirsty animal or hungry spirit from digging in and draining it. The spikes grow sharp, they populate the outside a tough callous.
The plant is not all tough, not all functional, not all hardened, in the dead of the night when the sun has stopped its torment a single flower will grow, unfurling its beautiful blood red color to the night sky, calling up towards the stars in gratitude. In the night, in the moments when the city or desert or plains have grown quiet the plant performs its beauty.
The flower, or the budding of this flower is infrequent, only for a moment is its true beauty manifested in ready shape. The years of stress and strain hidden deep inside only to burst for a week or more. The flower then takes shape, it unfurls itself to the world in a bold display of its livelihood. The succulent screams its existence, bright flashes of yellows and reds, of golds and umbers, dancing in the hot winds that whip across the landscape, twirling and flowing, reflecting the sun’s rays back up. While the other plants wither and burn, while their beauty fades and breaks down the succulent’s expands. The flower draws on the days, it draws on the sun, it draws on the floods and the hurricanes and the ice, it draws on the planting, on the first time that the same winds now dashing its flower around transported its seed into the soil it now stands. All of these days it stood enduring and collecting now for a brief moment on display for the world.
and then just as before it retracts. It returns to its shell and begins its slow stretch upwards.
Day in and day out.