Sunday, November 25, 2007

Winter Warmth

The golden sun rises now behind Mt. Fagan. There is a chill in the air as I step out my back door to read the thermometer. It registers 44 degrees at 7:35 a.m. Last night we turned our heat on for the first time in this new house. A new sound came from the garage as the furnace kicked in. It filled the rooms with the odor of heat and stale air. Still, the heat felt good against the evening chill as we came back from our walk with Blossom. I am really wanting a fireplace!

This morning the sunlight only slants across the farthest kitchen corner. The winter angle of the sun and the permanent placement of my house prevents sunlight from piercing the interior now when I want it most. The sun will briefly flood my bathroom with light as it has the only south-facing window in the house. Then, in late afternoon the front bedroom will be full of light as the sun sets in the west, but that will be it. If I want to bask in sunlight now I will have to go outside and find a place sheltered from the wind.

After breakfast Gus and I decide to take Blossom for a walk to the park. We feel the chill in the air as we head out. At the bottom of the cul de sac we cut through the desert trail. Across the wash my eyes catch the movement of a large bird in a tree. While I have left my binoculars behind, the huge dark bird is plainly visible. As it flies from its perch its red tail confirms it as a Red-tailed Hawk, probably the same one I heard crying as I stepped out the front door. The whole desert seems alive this morning. I see towhees, sparrows, thrashers, and cactus wrens all the way to the park. Once again I hear the silver tinkling of black-throated sparrows. As I think about it, I am amazed at how many birds I can tell by their voices now. This is a new skill for me, but I still have a long way to go.

We walked the paved trail around the park, the only place we can see grass out here. The green lawn is dotted with rabbit scat. They must come out in herds at night to feed. The green expanse glistens with silver water droplets from the morning’s irrigation. On the sidewalk I also observe fox scat. Unlike dog excrement, it is full of animal hair and sometimes, small bones or seeds. They like to mark their territory in this manner. We walked one loop around the park, then headed home. By now the air has warmed and we are feeling it.

In the late afternoon we drive to Sahuarita to get pizza, an easy and welcome change after days of turkey leftovers. Gus drives while I look out the windows, scanning as always for birds. I see another Red-tail perched atop a phone pole. Small birds perch on wires, or fly through desert scrub. The sun is sinking behind a bank of clouds low over the horizon. On Old Nogales highway we drive through a tunnel of pecan trees, still in full green leaf.

The pecan groves wind like a green river through Sahuarita and Green Valley. I have been watching the pecan trees to see if they change color before they drop their leaves. I know they drop their leaves, for their bare branches reached into the winter skies in January when we visited. However, it is almost December and there is only the faintest gold appearing in some trees. If the leaves change and fall, it must happen quickly, and they aren’t gone for long. By the time we moved into this house in April a faint lime blush was visible in the pecan orchards. New leaves were already emerging.

With the sinking sun the temperature falls once again. While these nighttime lows are nothing compared to Utah, Connecticut or Maine, it certainly feels cold when the winds blows. After daytime highs in the 80’s last week, the 40’s chill my bones. I still get that cozy winter feeling, so I make a cup of hot chocolate and curl up with a good book. For winter warmth I have my cats who curl up with me and radiate heat.

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