Desert plants here in Baja California Sur often intertwine and lean on one another like the cardon cactus and elephant tree (torote) pictured above. A local plant expert described this to some friends, my husband, and me as being simbiotico; that is, a symbiotic relationship in which different organisms cooperate.

Sometimes, he explained, well-meaning folks clear out the other plants surrounding the large cardons (relatives of the saguaros of the Sonoran desert), which are protected here by law, and inadvertently kill them because they rely on the protection of other plants during high winds. They, in turn, provide shelter for the adjacent plants.

The following photo of a lomboy tree and a pitaya dulce cactus illustrates the elemental truth: we are stronger together.

lomboy and pitaya dulce

Events remind me of this:

I talk by cell phone to my writing group back in Texas; each time our circle of women meets, we have  a “check-in”.  During these minutes, over many months, we have encouraged each other in a variety of situations:  new business ventures, deaths of close family members, illness, romantic relationships.

Also back home, our close friend  Ed speaks of his appreciation for the amazing strength of his wife as she cares for him following his multiple complications related to surgery.

In Oregon, Sue undergoes chemo–with family surrounding her–and her dear friend Diane, our neighbor here on the beach, knits and sends her a variety of colorful, exuberant (just like Sue) hats.

In this Baja California community, a group of Americanos organizes a benefit for the young families of two local fishermen lost in the Pacific.

My husband and I explore a mountain road, noting the changing flora as the elevation changes, and he remarks, “Lots of simbiotico going on out there.”




Writing Practice:

What examples of simbiotico do you notice around you?  In plants?  In human stories?

What lessons have you learned from plants?

6 thoughts on “Simbiotico

  1. My cat and I nurture each other. I feed and keep her healthy, indulging her desire for Luke warm drinking water. We both practice staring with slow blinks to signal we are no threat to the other. She sleeps up in a ball on the bed offering warmth, purring, and companionship. She talks to me making comments of surprise, interest, and request. I talk back caring on a language of relatedness. We weather the ups and downs of life faithfully supporting the spirit of the other. I am grateful she walks with me on this path.

  2. Ah, Chris, you bring such a simbiotico of feelings to mind…I think even of myself in this respect. Like the misinformed people who “weed out” the seemingly overcrowded patch of plants, I think if I could carve out the overcrowded/dark/unfortunate/painful/etc. parts of my life, would I be the same marvelously happy person I am today?

  3. I got this email about a Scottish farmer who saved a noble man’s son. As a reward the farmer’s son was given a good education and became the Dr Fleming who discovered penicillin, which saved the man who the farmer had saved originally. That man who was saved twice fathered Winston Churchill. Life is so surprising, twisting and folding

    Sent from my iPhone

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