It was leaning, but not that much. On Thanksgiving morning while we had breakfast (E, the M, and me), it fell with a huge thump from no particular direction. Later, E found the saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea): under the back mesquite, lying split like a toppled Doric column on top of beloved cax and sux, some in the ground, some in pots on shelves. Its weight had splintered a 2×12 pine shelf, cracking it nearly in two. It popped a mature barrel cactus out of the ground roots and all, and launched pots in the air, so that they landed in uprooted piles. It took all three of us to dig out the victims pinned under the wreckage, embedded in green flesh, impaled on spines. Lots of crushed plants, but only two pots lost and only one hand-made one; a small clay “miracle”. Still, it was gruesome, and the saguaro, although probably 50 years old, wasn’t anywhere near the end of its expected life span. It hadn’t even grown arms yet, like some of the older saguaros in this mature desert neighborhood.
In order to remove the plants from under it, we had to prop the saguaro incrementally up onto cinder blocks, where it now lies abandoned like an old car, awaiting decomposition, its length unnaturally separated from the soil below. Sadly, as damaged as it is, it looks very whole even lying there, and a few of its roots, still buried in the damp desert soil, are so far keeping it green and living, a support system that won’t bring life back.