by David Blesdoe, DVM
Outside my office window, past the photographs on my windowsill, stands a creosote bush; old and scraggly. It is not especially stately, made up as it is of multiple trunks 2-3” in diameter and covered with small pale green leaves that provide life giving photosynthesis while minimizing loss of precious moisture. Creosote bushes generally remain small,
but the specimen outside my office is one of the largest I’ve ever seen at around 12’ tall.
It’s stood in this same spot for decades, maybe a century or more; older than statehood for its native Arizona. The creosote bush is a slow growing and long-lived plant native to the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. It can withstand the harshness of the climate’s intense heat and parched soils. They bloom in the spring with tiny yellow flowers, a favorite of pollinating bees and other insects.
The creosote bush also has a cool trick. When the leaves are wet they release a fragrance that
can only be described as deliciously fresh. It gives the desert its smell after a rain, a gift to those
fortunate enough to experience it. To me this smell is up there with coffee in the morning as
something that makes me want to inhale deeply and believe that there is good in the world.
I was ruminating this morning, coffee in hand, freshly brewed in my office, about the creosote
bush. Seems we can learn a lot from it.
1. Dig deep. The creosote’s roots keep it firmly anchored in the rocky soil where neither
wind nor flood can move it.
2. Bloom where you’re planted. The bush didn’t choose to grow there and I am glad
workmen decided to leave it when they built my office building, where it remains,
blooming every spring.
3. Smell good. Plants are not mute. They speak with their fragrance and the creosote bush
speaks poetry after every rain.
4. Be who you are. The creosote is adapted for its environment and is the best it can be
where it is.
These lessons should speak to us as we seek mental wellness in our daily living. Do we have
strong roots? Maybe those roots are found in faith or family. Whatever they are, we need to be
anchored against the storms that inevitably come. Do we have the confidence to use our gifts and bloom and do we use those gifts to inspire others, becoming a warm, inviting fragrance to
In short, the creosote bush tells us to be who we are – the best we can be. I can’t be anyone but
myself and no one can be me. Let me therefore be the best me I can be. Maye I’m kind of
scraggly at times and don’t have six pack abs, but may I make up for it with words and deeds
that inspire others and may my voice bring a freshness as the desert after a rain.