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old soldier 1443

I have been visiting and photographing this cactus for nearly 15 years. I first saw this from the road and something about it spoke to me. I hiked out to it and knew I needed to spend some more time there. When the weather and the clouds were right I came back, I have been coming back ever since.

This cactus has been here since before Arizona was a state. Saguaros grow their first arm after about 50 years, so when you see one that's 35 feet tall and has several arms you are looking at something that has stood for at least 100+ years. Countless families of cactus wrens have lived in this cactus, ravens and hawks have perched here looking for prey in the grass and scrub below since Arizonans were on horseback and in covered wagons. 

Called 'The Soldiers of the Desert';  these stately and impressive cacti seem to stand guard tirelessly and perpetually here in the Sonoran Desert. I call this one 'The Colonel' after a Marine Corps Lt.Colonel I knew years ago. My friend was the very picture of a retired USMC officer. Badly wounded in Vietnam, 40 years later he walked with a ramrod perfect posture, dressed impeccably and spoke softly. He never let on that he was in constant pain, and unless you knew him well you'd never suspect the medications and therapies he underwent just to sleep at night. He will go to his grave proudly and will not give an inch to death. Such is the mighty Saguaro to me, tall, proud, standing watch and performing its mission without fail until ultimately time takes it.

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old soldier 1443

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