Thursday, March 4, 2010

I Just Want to Be Outside!

DSC_0214Sycamore Canyon 3-4-10

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.

DSC_0220

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?

16 comments:

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

I read your entry and I had to comment. I dream of Tucson and the desert just about every day. I know we live in a wonderful mountain space and in CA you only have to hop in the car and you can be in just about any environment in a few hours....but my heart yearns for a walk in the Saguaro desert. I sometimes pull out my photos and just want to be there.

Perhaps I mean that it is hard to pick just one place that feels like home. Can you split your year? We have a friend that splits between Oregon and Hawaii. A neighbor here splits between CA and AZ. We also have another family that we know that splits between here in Northern CA and Baja.

Whatever you decide, I enjoy your AZ photos sooo very much. Thank you for giving me my desert "fix".

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Shelley said...

Arizona and Idaho seem like they would be completely opposite places so I can see how your heart would be torn. It would be hard to choose. My hubby & I have had this discussion of what will happen if we move to northern michigan and make our cabin our permanent home - I don't think we'll be that far away but who knows. The best of both worlds would be to have 2 homes...:-)

Doug Taron said...

I think that a bit of my heart will always live in the Sonoran Desert. Were I to have an opportunity to spend the rest of my life there, I'd take it in a heartbeat.

Avimor Birder said...

You know that I am one who has lived in both places and loved both places. If your decision was based entirely on where the best birding is, AZ is the easy answer. I do enjoy having all four seasons in Idaho, but after two months of winter cold I am again ready for the AZ winter. Here we are close to family which has its pros and cons.

dAwN said...

You always paint such a wonderful picture with words..photos are just the icing on the cake here.
I love the desert..and love places like Idaho, Montana, Oregon.
Jeff and I cant decide where we would want to stay permanently..so we make no decision..just wander about.
I wonder where you will end up...I dont think it much matters.

kayleen said...

Found your post interesting. I have spent my last evening on the Texas coast pondering what my future should be. Transfered to Nebraska 20 yrs ago and never intended to stay, but life happens while you make plans. Talked to a volunteer at Laguna Atascosa NWR today who RV's all year. That appeals to me, always has, but it's such a big step, do I have the courage? Dunno. Do have to start wending my way north tomorrow. That much is for certain. Not much else is.

Carolyn Ford said...

Wow! It is so hard to measure the love of one place over another. I do that all the time with just favorite vacation locations...much less to live. It all boils down to staying near family that I adore and leave those fabulous places for vacation and vacation only. I live near Los Angeles...just an hour from the desert, an hour to the mountains, an hour to the ocean...can't beat that. Which location would I pick as my favorite??? That answer changes each time I think about it. So...I had better stay right where I am and be close to my family.
How's that for imposing on your thinking process for your own situation?

desertsandbeyond said...

I live in the desert, too, near PalmSprings. While I've always loved the desert, I also love the mountains. Hubby and I are having the same conversation now. However, our children live only 10 minutes from us and now my aunt and uncle are moving near us, too, so we will stay put for a while! The desert has been my home for 35 years now.

Kathiesbirds said...

Barb, thank you for your imput. I have considered that, but my husband is still working, so we are mostly tied to one place.

Shelly, you and Barb are thinking alike! Gus and I do love the weather here, the warmth and the sunshine. And me? I love the birds!

Doug, perhaps someday that dream will come true. Until then, you are always welcome here!

Avimor, I know about the "close to family" thing. That is why gus and I have ping-ponged back and forth across the USA. Miss the family-move back east. Hate the weather-move back west! We've done it at least 7 times now! I think we are here to stay, but you never know!

Dawn, in some ways your life seems like a dream to me. All this moving and birding has developed a love of travel in me. But it is always nice to have a home to come home to!

Kathiesbirds said...

Hey everyone, it's time for me to leave to go birding with Dawn, but I will be back later to respond to the rest of these comments!

Denise said...

Loved your post and I know you're going to enjoy your birding with Dawn. I missed California for a long time and I am not sure when I felt Virginia was home. It took a long time.

sweet bay said...

I feel the same about NC as you do about Idaho. My family is not originally from NC, but I have lived here most of my life. We lived in PA for 3 years and I never felt at home there.

Roy said...

I know what you mean about how you feel Kathie. If you are going to do it, don't put it off for too long as you will regret doing so.

The Early Birder said...

Life often throws up these difficult choices Kathie but I'm sure you will come to the right decision for you and Gus. In the meantime, don't let it break your heart. FAB.

Gusto! said...

Connecticut ->
Idaho ->
New York ->
Colorado ->
Maine ->
Utah ->
Maine ->
Utah ->
ARIZONA! Home ***(sigh)

Celeste said...

Uh-oh you wouldn't really leave Arizona would you Kathie? I can't imagine, it seems to suit you so well and the birding is so good.
Clearly Gus feels settled!