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Slowing down in Tucson's desert sanctuary

Slowing down in Tucson's desert sanctuary

  • Updated

When things get tough, some people run for a drink. Others run for cover. I run to my Tucson backyard.

Well, I don’t really run to it, since the back door is about three steps from where I usually sit in my kitchen.

But I do head there quickly and frequently when I need the healing power of nature.

And lately, that’s been a lot. Actually, it’s always been a lot, ever since my yard has turned into a sanctuary of sorts.

I say of sorts because it’s filled with just about everything (including the proverbial sink). In addition to dozens of potted plants, it’s graced with a giant mesquite tree, handfuls of those messy-as-all-get-out acacia trees and too many aloe and agave to count.

That’s on top of the handcrafted artwork, store-bought statues and gewgaws, five arbors, one self-made gazebo and a structure that my beau says looks like it came from the 1930s World’s Fair. And don’t forget the pavers, the fountains and the bathroom sink made into a crab. Her name is Wilma.

All this happened by default, rather than design. I had simply run out of room and things to decorate inside the home. So I focused my efforts on the outside – which coincidentally seemed to happen right after I paid my first visit to Valley of the Moon.

This was years ago. The yard has taken on a personality of its own ever since, constantly reinforcing the lessons of nature. You don’t need a quirky backyard to take in those lessons. Just a few minutes outside in the elements will do.

One of the greatest lessons is perseverance. No matter how crazy the world may seem to get, nature keeps on doing its thing. The sun keeps rising. The hummingbirds keep fluttering. And the mighty mesquite continues to drop its bean pods, pollen and tiny leaves — in amounts notable for enough for HOA violations — no matter what else is going on.

Nature also does it all at its own pace. You can’t make a flower bloom faster by yelling at it, or a tree sprout more leaves just because you give it a deadline. The big lesson here is to slow down. Take it easy. Let things unfold naturally. “Nature never hurries, yet everything gets done.”

Sometimes slowing down can actually make things get done faster — or at least with fewer mistakes. This, in turn, provides you with even more time to spend in the great outdoors. Watching the hummingbirds. Basking in the sunrise. And cleaning up all the bean pods, pollen and tiny leaves before the HOA does its next round of violations.

Tucsonan Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist, reiki master and dog lover who helps people get their dazzle back. Contact her at

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