A Glory

En route to his last golf game in Gilbert before we head home, the Big Guy pulls over on the bridge/overpass to let me out. I grab my hat, water bottle, and camera, slam the car door, and head off on my own last: a walk along a desert wash.

My plan is to head for 2.6 miles (all distances courtesy of Google Maps) along a paved path beside the dry sandy bed of Queen Creek to its western terminus, watching for wildlife, then to pop out at street level and walk another 1.1 miles to get home.

My hope is to see a roadrunner along that route.

My fondest wish is to get a good photo or video of a roadrunner or, failing that, an interesting shot of a bee, my latest photo challenge.

But nothing is about to go as I plan, hope, or fondly wish, because as I stride purposefully down the ramp to the walkway, I stumble into a glory of palo verde trees.

A glory? Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s the collective noun for palo verde trees in bloom. If it’s not, it should be.

Close-up of palo verde flowers with tree in full bloom blurred in background.

Yellow flowers on branches of palo verde against blue sky.

Blooming palo verde against blue sky.

Full-frame shot of shrubby palo verde in full bloom

Pruned palo verde in full bloom

Shrubby palo verde in full bloom

I rest my case. Whether seen in close-up or as a whole, of tree or shrubby habit of growth, growing wild or carefully pruned, they are all, well, glory-ous.

As I wander from one staggering vista to the next, I forget about roadrunners and bees and think only of trees laden with yellow blooms. Oh, and pink. Because a year ago, driving home from South Carolina Beach through Virginia, we stumbled into a glory of redbud trees. It’s not a great video, but even through a dirty windshield at 70 miles/hour, you get the idea.

At least two towns in Virginia ““ Denton and Honaker ““ have redbud festivals. When life hands you redbud, you make a festival, right?

That gets me thinking of other places I’ve been, with festivals celebrating the transient but stupendous loveliness of rhododendrons in Port Townsend WA and Florence OR, lilacs in Calgary AB, tulips in Ottawa ON, and cherry blossoms in Washington DC. In my mind’s eye, all across the continent ““ maybe all around the world – I see little flares of beauty briefly lighting up their respective landscapes before fading quietly away, until the next time.

As I straggle sort of stupidly along the walkway, taking photo after photo of tree after blooming tree because I just can’t help myself, I wonder idly why Gilbert doesn’t have a palo verde festival. They would seem to have sufficient material.

Full-frame shot of shrubby palo verde in full bloom

Shrubby palo verde in full bloom.

Flowering palo verde trees flanking walkway.

Shrubby palo verde in full bloom

And I wonder, more in indignation than in idleness, why I didn’t learn about glories in school. I was almost 64 before I knew about redbud, and almost 65 before I knew about palo verde in any meaningful sense: before I saw it at the right moment to take my breath away.

But here’s the thing. I know about them now, and I know that there must be others, some acknowledged with festivals, some maybe under-appreciated. But all of them a sorely needed glimpse, however evanescent, into the transcendent.

As I pop up at street level, I look back on a completely unplanned path. Not, I hope, my last.

Row of palo verde trees in bloom



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10 Responses to A Glory

  1. Judith Umbach says:

    Marvellous sight! Excellent photos! Thanks for educating me, a couple of years later than you.

  2. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – some great pictures – and if you like yellow blossoms, I recommend Saskatchewan when the canola fields are in flower. There may not be much to see in some parts of Saskatchewan, but when all you can see is bright yellow as far as the horizon on all sides, it impressed me.
    John W

    • Jim Taylor says:

      All across the prairies, actually, John. Often alternated with fields of bright blue flax flowers. Enough blue and yellow to create a global-size flag of Sweden.
      A Google note says that Canada is now the world’s largest producer of flax. True or not, there’s sure lots of it out there. (Even if Nelson’s Canadian Dictionary and Encyclopedia insists that the flax flower is greyish yellow. )
      Jim T

      • Isabel Gibson says:

        Jim – Thanks, Jim. I’ve seen flax in bloom only a few times, but it is amazing. And not grey or even remotely yellow, but a remarkable blue.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – Considering that every third Canadian is from Saskatchewan, you might want to be more careful about dissing that province. But yes, the canola in bloom is wonderful.

      • John Whitman says:

        Isabel – I may have been guilty of pandering to common impressions of Saskatchewan held by people who have never there. I may also have been guilty of a bit of teasing where a Westerner is concerned, i.e. you. However, it was not my real intent to “dis” Saskatchewan. One of the best summer jobs I ever had when I was in university was the summer I spent working for TransCanada Pipelines laying natural gas pipeline across southern Saskatchewan.
        We started out on the Alberta/Saskatchewan border and ended up four months later just east of Regina. As a Maritimer I really enjoyed being on the prairies and being able to see for days. Nova Scotia seemed a bit claustrophobic after that.
        John W

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          John – As we wander through various parts of the wide-open American West and Southwest, I sometimes wonder whether folks born and bred under 180 degrees of sky, with nothing significant on the horizon in any direction, can ever learn to live happily in cities or in areas hemmed in by mountains.

  3. Sid says:


    Lovely. Thank you


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