Sunday, November 4, 2007

All Saint's Day in the Morning

With the cooler weather coming on I finally decided to venture out to the desert once again. I walk across the street and enter through the path along the block wall. The early morning shadows are still long and cool, but the desert sun is warming things rapidly. Ahead of me I see the Santa Ritas basking in the morning light. A flurry of sparrows flutters into the scrub. The black-throated sparrows are still here, but there are also white-crowned sparrows now, and possibly some Brewer’s sparrows.

I want to head south in the wash, which is actually uphill, but that is also the direction the sun is coming from and it shines straight down my binocular lenses—not the best for bird watching. I start to head north, which is downhill and makes the most sense as the sun will be at my back, but I’m so drawn to walk up the wash, so I turn around and head that way after all.

The cactus wrens scold from the brush. A curved-billed thrasher whistles from the top of a mesquite tree. Along the cliff wall I see movement and zero in on a rock wren hopping and bobbing about. Its shrill whistle rings off the canyon and is answered by another rock wren farther up the wash. I walk past the red cliff amazed at the thick mesquite root exposed by the erosion of the soil. It bulges out high above me as thick as a child’s arm and worms its way back into the cliff wall again. You have to be strong and resourceful to survive in the desert.

I find a shady spot under a different mesquite tree and sit on the gravel bank. Down here it is so peaceful! From this sheltered spot all I see is nature and I am able to pretend the houses above me on the cliff do not exist. I absorb the silence into my being. This desert beauty is a salve to the soul. Zeet! A canyon towhee flies across the wash. Then, a loud squawking and chatter across the wash draws my attention. Two cactus wrens are arguing about a particularly juicy insect as they hop from branch to branch. I watch their argument amused. A curved –billed thrasher flies in to see what the ruckus is all about. Is he annoyed by their chatter, or hoping to snatch their tidbit from them.

The thrashers and cactus wrens are year-round residents, but the purple martins have flown even farther south for the winter. Now the saguaros they called home are silent. I suppose there may be flickers still inhabiting some holes, but I have not seen them. Beside the saguaros my eyes are drawn to a bit of red. Is this the only autumn color I will see here in the desert? I do not know what I am looking at, but the bush before me has the most beautiful red seed pods dangling from it, and though I am far from New England, it does remind me of autumn there, with Christmas soon to follow.


Jess said...

Oh wow!!! Photos!! Not that your wonderfully descriptive writting needs photos, but it is always a nice touch :)!

Kathie Brown said...

Thanks Jess! I'm working on it! More photos to follow.