The winding gravel trail passes through a forest of mesquite, saguaros, and ocotillos. I hear the cries of curve-billed thrashers and the cackling calls of cactus wrens. Nearby ocotillo branches are dotted with perching mourning doves. How they find a foothold on those thorny branches I will never know. As the trail winds down past a retention basin I can hear the trickle of water as it tumble over stones and forms a small rivulet in this dry desert. How quickly the water rises here and how quickly it fades away.
Blue sky is breaking through the tattered gray clouds already blushing in the fading sunlight. I hop over the spreading creek to the sidewalk and find my way to the massive bridge that spans the large wash for which Sycamore Canyon is named. As I walk across the bridge I gaze below on either side to see if the water flowed down the wash this time around. Apparently there was some flow, for I see puddles and pools of water here and there along its course. In the desert, all water is a giver of life and the birds are gathered around these pools quenching their thirst, bathing, or searching for food as the insects gather over the water also.
The Santa Ritas to the south rise raggedly to the sky. Their jagged peaks tear at the clouds drifting slowly by. Mt. Wrightston towers above them all, but the whole range is a sight to behold. Beautiful and smoky blue in this light, with gray green desert tumbling down its slopes punctuated here and there by the towering and spiny saguaros. And everywhere tonight it seems there are birds. Perhaps they have raised their voices in joy over the blessings of rain. The air is alive with the sound of their voices and my ears search the sounds trying to identify them all. I am getting better at birding by ear and I hear so many familiar desert voices.