Leap Days

Jumping Cholla

"Leaping" Cholla © 2009 Bo Mackison

This cholla is more commonly known as a jumping cholla, but I am taking liberties today since it is Leap Day, and conferring the title of “Leaping Cholla” on these attractive cacti. These cacti are known for attaching small sections of themselves to anything that brushes near them — hence the name jumping, or leaping, cholla. (It’s a great way for the plants to distribute their seeds.)

I decided to see how many Leap Days I could either remember or make a good attempt at a reconstruction of probable events. Leap Day really should be a more celebratory day — we are each given an extra 24 hours, in our Western way of thinking.  Are you doing something to mark the occasion of February 29th?

The run-down of Bo’s Leap Days, including her plans for celebrating Leap Day 2012 with a special “in the Southwest” dinner for one.


1956  Leap Day is on a Wednesday. U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower announces to the nation that he is running for a second term. It was my first Leap Day, but I have no recall of that year. Pre-memory, I think.

1960  Leap Day is the 60th day of the year in 1960. Of course, all Leap Days are the 60th day of the year.  Family Circus makes its debut. First grade. I had the BEST teacher, ever, so surely we did something exciting to celebrate Leap Day. Why isn’t Leap Day a holiday, anyway?

1964  Saturday. Fifth grade. Too young to babysit, so most likely I spent Leap Evening watching Lawrence Welk with my grandparents. A typical Saturday evening in fifth grade.

1968  Freshman year in high school. We had an “art”sale during the lunch periods  – profits going to our sister school in Nicaragua. We sold out of giant tissue paper flowers, posters decorated with “Little Prince” quotes, beaded necklaces, and ceramic pots.

1972  Freshman year in college. Led Zeppelin had a concert that evening in Brisbane Australia. Tickets cost $5.20. Sold out. I’m sure I would have loved to attend if given the opportunity!

1976  I was a few months into my first professional job after graduating from college. Leap Day was also minus 103 days until our wedding day. A significant year in my life, for sure.

1980  Sherpa and I had been in our first house — in Milwaukee Wisconsin — for two months on this Leap Day.

1984  No doubt a busy day. All days in 1984 were busy days. Probably busy chasing kiddies. Well, chasing an almost three-year old. Our second child was only two weeks old so he wasn’t too active — yet. We still were in our house in Milwaukee, but planning a move to New Berlin, Wisconsin.

1988  Another Leap Day preoccupied with children. Six year old, four-year old, and a baby soon to be born. This was our first Leap Day living in Madison.

1992  Our two older children (5th grade, 2nd grade) had a Leap Day School Fair to celebrate Leap Day. Parents were in attendance with pockets full of quarters. Three year old also knew how to ask for quarters. I think we won several gold-fish at the gold-fish pond.

1996  Perhaps I blanked out for a decade or so…

2000  Hmmm…. the millennium Leap Day?

2004  The days are getting clearer. Kissed by a prince, perhaps?

2008  By this Leap Day, I’d been taking photos with a digital camera for a few months. I was doing a 365 photo challenge. Here’s proof that I posted on my photo blog on Leap Day, 2008.

2012  I know one thing I won’t be doing today — I will not celebrate Leap Day leaping in the desert. Not going to trust those leaping cholla! Think I’ll celebrate with a Margarita and some spicy enchiladas? Yes!

How are you marking this once-every-four-year day?


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. Bo is appreciating these extra minutes of this extra day as she celebrates Leap Day in Tucson.



About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Joanne Keevers says:

    Ha ha, Bo, my first thought was, “I wouldn’t want to leap over that Cholla!” It’s a beautiful photos though and almost looks like cactus covered in snow, or frost.

    Umm…I cleaned the house yesterday and didn’t give much thought to the date, other than thinking, “Yay! Tomorrow is autumn!”, as I struggled through the vacuuming with sweat running down my back. I loved reading through your memories though. How was the margarita and enchiladas? 🙂

  2. Leaping is something one does after coming into contact with that Cholla! I still have many memories of them!

  3. Gandalf says:

    Fun post. I thinking leaping the Cholla would be more challenging jumping over a candle stick. 🙂

  4. Sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate. 🙂

    Fun post, Bo. I enjoyed the trip back in time.

  5. I like the backlighting that highlights the needles in this Cholla. Hope you enjoyed your Mexican dinner!

  6. Love to see the Chollas … from a safe distance. LOL! Great pic of them. This year we’d planned to leave for the beach on the 29th of February, enjoying the poetry of “leaping” on that day. That didn’t work out but we are Leaping into Adventure this year! Kinda like you…!

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