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Agave Utahensis is one of many agaves found in the Sonoran desert. They are very hostile– a chemical makes stab wounds throb and swell, and they are rigged to stab or slice from every surface. I can’t help but finding some humor in this simple sentence on wikipedia: “Among the Navajo, the plant is used to make blankets.”

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Agaves spend years as large, spikey rosettes, quietly growing enormous taproots. After a full life– often dozens of years– this giant wad of stored energy turns into rocket fuel to shoot up an enormous flower stalk. This one-time drive toward reproduction reminds me of salmon– it is fatal.

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Generally, I don’t spend time wondering whether or not plants have feelings. But when I see a cactus bloom I can’t help it. How can it not feel– beautiful, at least– after years of hording calories and withering back in the sun, to pull out all the stops and blow it all, explode into a shocking, twenty-foot bloom, call that a life?

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