England Has Stonehenge – Tucson Has Saguarohenge
Everyone has heard of Stonehenge in England and New Grange of Ireland. They are circular stone structures built by our Neolithic ancestors about 5500 years ago. What you may not know is that here in Tucson, Arizona we have the Saguarohenge created by a modern ancestor. The late landscape architect Robie Pardee created the cacti design as a tribute to his mother. The ring of eight Saguaro cacti standing tall at the Pima Prickly Park is very eye-catching to those who happen to drive by. It is even more amazing up close and personal.
What is even more interesting is that the Pima Prickly Park didn’t even exist at the time he designed the prickly henge. Yet, the henge definitely served as inspiration for the continually evolving park, complete with paths and trails. This isn’t a park to run through though. This is a park designed as a modern spiritual endeavor to give the park’s visitor a new awareness of the desert and our lowly place within it.
In our mundane lives we get so busy that we tend to forget that even though Tucson is a thriving metropolis in its own right, the desert is still a living, breathing entity, and her wild children tend to visit and remind us of that when we least expect it.
Case in point, I live in the promontory apartments off River Road in a second story apartment facing the Catalina Foothills. I was sitting outside on the patio enjoying the early summer morning when I noticed a movement on the other side of the concrete wall. The wall separated the apartments from the desert – in theory anyways.
I tried to eye whatever was moving on the other side, but I just couldn’t get a good look at the moving shadow. The shadow took pity on me and jumped over the wall. It was a bobcat. It proceeded to cross the parking lot at a leisurely walk then jumped over the wall that separated the apartments from the parking lot and walked directly under my apartment without a care in the world.
I leaned so far over the patio wall in surprise that I just about fell over. My two fur babies were also leaning out over the edge, just as surprised as I was. We followed the larger fur ball until it disappeared further into the apartment’s courtyard and out of our sight.
Looking down at my fur babies, I saw they were both staring up at me with such a mixture of expressions I had to chuckle at them. I said to them, “Aren’t you glad we live on the second floor?”
I’ve lived here for a little over a year, and in that short span of time, I’ve seen javelinas, bobcats, quail, coyotes, and numerous other critters. Late at night you can hear the coyotes singing, but as cool as that is, there have also been posters hung up around here about missing pets.
A friend of mine is a security guard, and he sees numerous bobcats, racoons, javelinas, and coyotes himself. In fact, walking the perimeter of where he works, he’s even had a couple of run-ins with rattlesnakes. Luckily, he saw them before they saw him.
It is the desert’s way of saying don’t get too comfortable, because the desert of Tucson is not as tame as you want to believe.
Pima Prickly Park is a physical reminder of that. The path has little stakes with descriptions of the local fauna and their place in the desert’s ecological system. It you stay alert and get lucky, you will see some of the desert’s local wild life out exploring.
Saguarohenge is a living monument that man does not control his environment, as much as we try to convince ourselves otherwise. It is a living testimony to the desert, representing the beauty and the dangers of the desert. It is a reminder to treat her with the respect that is her just due, because it is only with her tacit approval we are allowed to live here.
So, if you get a chance, drive over to Pima Prickly Park and enjoy the Saguarohenge.