Friday, January 11, 2008

Evening Shadows


Though it was such a beautiful day here yesterday I got caught up inside working at the computer. By 5 p.m. I’d had enough and decide to go for a walk. I crossed the street to the trails and headed for the fence. After consulting the Sycamore Canyon trail map I discovered that the trail went right through this spot. This is part of what we pay for with our HOA fees, so, not to be deterred; I climbed through the barbed wires and stood in the wash once again.

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.
Little sparrows are flitting about in the brush. They dart behind the twigs and dive into the grasses. I step cautiously forward and finally fix on one. It is a black-throated sparrow hopping around the base of a prickly pear cactus. I smile to see his black throat outlined in white. He is a striking bird for a sparrow. So many sparrows are hard to identify, that birders frequently call them LBJ’s, or Little Brown Jobs. This bird is a uniform brownish-gray with a white eye line, white whisker marks, and a black throat that extends partway down the breast. It has a silvery voice to match its distinguished attire. He is the gentleman of the desert and his voice the song of the desert bell choir.

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.

7 comments:

Larry said...

I love the way you describe what you see. I see things that way when I'm out in nature but it's such a struggle for me to put things into words.

Kathiesbirds said...

Thank you Larry! I love language and words and I feel things so deeply. I actually feel better when I write, and I love sharing these thoughts with others.

Amy said...

I LOVE the American west. Before I die I simply MUST see the Sonoran Desert. Lucky you to be living near all those awesome cacti. I had a collection of well over 300 cacti before I moved home to the twelve acres. I had to give the bulk of them away because I don't have the window space here for them. I kept my absolute favorites and now have less than 100. Saguaros are awesome and I had a few seedlings which are now in someone else's care.

danceswithmoths said...

what a delight to find your blog, I'm gad you commented on mine today- I grew up in the Mojave desert and miss wesrenn birds so much,, I'll be adding you to my sidebar to be sure not to loose you..what a great trip down memory lane, thank you :)

kayleen said...

Beautiful photos! Thanks for stopping by. I always love to find another birding blog.

Kathiesbirds said...

Amy, you are a person after my own heart with your love of nature. I fell in love with saguaros the first time I saw them but I am only now getting to know them. Their beauty and their capacity to survive amazes me. I, too, hope you get to visit the Sonoran desert someday. I only wish I had Twelve acres to call my own! Thanks for visitng my Blog.

Kathiesbirds said...

Danceswithmoths, thank you for visiting and for adding my Blog to your sidebar. I look forward to learning more about moths from you. We have a wide variety here, many which are pollinators for our various flowers, but I'm sure you know that already!