Cactus are an indelible symbol of our world. They are familiar to us all, yet somehow retain a strange, other-worldly sense. Their legendary hardiness and formidable defensive qualities are a tribute to the endless ingenuity and adaptability of life on our planet. They always command respect, as many of us in the American Southwest have learned the folly of not paying them enough heed until it is too late.
On a driving journey to Phoenix, I had the opportunity to take some images with a vintage Roleiflex camera. The images of the cholla were acquired at a comically precarious risk. It is no accident that this desert plant is known as the “jumping cactus” for its apocryphal ability to launch spines into intruders. While that legend remains unproven, it provided me with plenty of incentive to avoid the wrath of this redoubt of the desert.