Last weekend, we headed east out of Phoenix for a day of climbing in the Superstition Mountains. I had two goals, outside of climbing: first, to take an iconic Saguaro cactus photograph ...
and second, to photograph my newly-knit, Saguaro-inspired, rock-climbing legwarmers.
I think I did passably well, but both tasks were more challenging than expected. The sheer immensity of the cacti is difficult to capture. And saguaros are really wild and irregular!! Some shoot straight up into the sky for 30 feet, all spindly and phallic and waving in wind.
Others are veritable octopi, with an explosion of branches and nubbins.
I found an amazing fan shaped saguaro as tall as a 3-story building.
And another that was eerily humanoid.
They can be entracingly beautiful and perfect, with smooth jade skin that turns to gold at sunset.
Or they can be intruigingly warped, sagging from the weight of the branches
and wizened and blackened by fire.
Although I began looking for the perfect saguaro, I found my eye increasingly drawn to their variety and strangeness.
All the while, my mind kept returning to thoughts about beauty and the body, as brought up in recent articles about the late Bettie Page. Manohla Dargis articulated how, in our modern, explicit-but-airbrushed world, we've become "less alive to the beauty, the poetry, and the mysteries of the naked body." This line really resonated with me. What draws me into Page's photos is a woman's body in all its natural contours and textures. I'm seriously fascinated by getting to see a stomach and ribs.
Anyways, I'm kind of getting off topic, but somehow my mind was making a connection between Bettie Page and these saguaros that has to do with the unexpected beauty, poetry, and mystery of imperfection.
Oh, I almost forgot about the legwarmers:
My ankles and calves can get chilled when I'm rock climbing, as the harness kind of hikes up one's pants and leave the lower legs exposed. I whipped these up out of superwash wool that's been hibernating in my stash for almost a decade. Super quick and greatly appreciated by my cold ankles.