The setting sun cast long shadows and golden light around me. It is so quiet at this time of the day. Not a leaf twitches. Not a peep is heard. The only sound is the crunch of gravel beneath my feet as I head south up the wash. The rays of the setting sun play through the branches of trees and scrub. It paints gold onto the clay walls before me. All the rocks, stones, sand and saguaro bones take on the golden cast until it appears as if I stand in a glided outdoor palace. The shadows cast by the tree branches create a black filigree against the burnished walls. I walk forward with my footsteps pounding in my ears.
I see the four Saguaro Sentinels towering above me on my left. The Purple Martian holes are vacant now. I will have to watch for their return. I wonder if they will return, now that there are new houses so close by. I catch a movement off to my right from the corner of my eye. Quietly I turn and focus my binoculars in the fading light.
Of course, I would love to find the elusive five-striped sparrow. I have only read of this bird in my bird guides. According to the books, the five-striped sparrow in a rare visitor to a few rugged canyons near the Mexican border and mostly seen in spring and summer. This sparrow looks similar to the black-throated sparrow, but without the extensive black on its throat and with an additional white stripe that splits the throat patch in two. Thus the five stripes are 3 white and 2 black. It’s highly unlikely that I will find one here, but I keep hoping, so I examine each black-throat carefully.
I stand in the wash where I saw the sparrows and look off to the south where the last rays of the sun tint the limestone mine on the slopes of the Santa Ritas pink. I think that it may be called Helvetia mine, but I am not sure of this. Another research project for me I suppose, but nothing can take away the silent beauty of this moment, this ephemeral peace that I carry with me out of the wash and home.