It was a warm night last night and I let the cool air flow into the house. This morning is so warm and sunny that Gus and I eat breakfast outside on the terrace. Numerous birds take flight as we come outside, but soon they settle down again and feed behind our backs. A beautiful white-crowned sparrow is here today feeding quietly on the ground. Gus leaves for work and then I am alone and it is too wonderful to be inside doing housework or writing. I just want to be outside! So I grab my bins and notebook, and head out the door.
The morning sun is warm on my back, yet a chill still hangs in the air and I am thankful for my light sweater. I hear the call of a Say’s phoebe as I head down the path to the wash. As I pass through the gap in the block walls I hear the steady hum of bees. I look up to see a neighbor’s tree covered with them. I do not know what kind of tree it is and it doesn’t appear to be in bloom yet, but nevertheless, the bees are swarming here, so they must be getting something from the little green rosettes I see on the tips of the branches.
Walking down the trail through cholla cacti and mesquite scrub the desert is alive. I see my first lizard of the springtime dart beneath my feet. A desert cottontail hops off into the brush, its white cottony button a fluffy poof amongst the green. Bird song and bird calls are everywhere. The desert is alive with sound. I wander down the trail, out onto the streets, into the park and back into the desert again. I can’t help but marvel at how different this world is from the forest hills and open pastures of New England. Now I am here in Arizona and I just want to be outside!
And I am outside and the sun is bright and the breeze is playing tag with me. The birds are singing so I’m not alone as I wander the sandy washes on these mountains slopes.
Can I love this place? Can I live here for the rest of my life? It is a question I am asking myself. It is one Gus and I are discussing daily. For Gus it has become and easy choice. For me, not so easy. I like it here, don’t get me wrong. I really do, but we are so far away from the rest of our families. Can I accept that? But for me, that is not even the real question here. Ever since we lived in Idaho for two years and then moved away I have had a not-so-secret desire to move back there someday. Idaho became the love of my life. I felt so connected to that place in a way I cannot explain or describe. To stay here means I will never live there ever again. Can I let Idaho go? At what point does a dream become a memory and fade? Can I embrace a new dream and a new life?
Before me the snow-capped peaks of the Santa Rita Mountains are silhouetted against a pale blue sky. It is warm enough now that I have removed my sweater. Overhead a red-tailed hawks soars. In the distance I hear the cry of a raven. I look in another direction and see a male Phainopepla flying straight towards me, its white wing patches flashing a staccato message with its undulating flight. I watch it land in a nearby Palo Verde and right away it starts to call, a soft “what, what” to the desert. Is it calling me also? How will I answer?