Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My World: Desert Summer Morning

Gray Dawn 7-29-09

I awake this morning before the sun to a gray world of haze. It’s 5:30 a.m. and a quick glance at my thermometer tells me the temperature here in Sycamore Canyon is 74 degrees Fahrenheit. In the next few minutes the temperature momentarily drops to 73 degrees, but down in Tucson they are into the 20th day of record high low temperatures with overnight lows averaging 75 degrees or higher. As for me, I am tired of the heat. I am longing for a cool breeze. The heat drives me inside and makes me grumpy. I just want to be outside!

Tucson city lights 7-29-09

I step out the back door into the gray dawn. I hear the rumble of some big truck coming up the canyon. Across the wash I see there are workers already on the lot of the next house being built. This one is directly behind me and soon the roof line will totally block any remaining view I have of the Rincon Mountains. As I putter about watering plants I gaze off into the distance where the Catalinas and Rincons are lost in the smoky haze of summer heat. In a peek-a-boo view between houses I can still see the lights of Tucson glimmer before the sun rises and outshines them.

Foundation Pour 7-29-09

The rumble has grown louder as the huge truck lumbers into the neighborhood. I see the large insect like boom carried on its back and I know that today they will pour the foundation. As the truck maneuvers itself into place and extends its supports like the legs of some giant grasshopper the sun slowly rises from behind the eastern row of houses and with it the temperature rises to 75 degrees.

Prickly pears 7-29-09

I have so many things to do, but I hurry inside and grab my gear and head out the door for the desert. It has been so long since I have walked in the wash and I know I need to take advantage of these cool temperatures while I can. As I amble along the desert trail I hear the raucous call of a brown-crested flycatcher. A covey of Gamble’s quail scurries out of my way as golden sunlight falls on prickly pear fruit deepening its garnet blush. As I travel along the desert wash the gravel crunches beneath my feet. I find a partially eaten prickly pear lying on the ground in the middle of the path and wonder who or what left it there. I know the birds have been eating this ripe fruit, for they appear at my feeders stained with the juice. Perhaps a ground squirrel left it here, or a woodpecker dropped it in flight.

Santa Ritas 7-29-09

The shadows fall silent and soft across my path. The Santa Rita’s tower in front of me invitingly. Around me the desert is full of bird song with curve-billed thrashers calling, black-throated sparrows singing, purple martins twittering and cactus wrens cackling. The brown-crested flycatchers continue their chorus while Gila woodpeckers whinny and gilded flickers shriek. Yeah, it’s loud out here in the morning! The birds are calling me awake!

Skeleton 7-29-09

In the distance I can still hear the roar of the cement truck, but beyond that I hear a hammer’s ring. I glance to the south towards the sound trying to locate it. High on the canyon’s rim I see the skeleton of a house rising from the mesquite in the new Sombra neighborhood. This will be the first house to go in this exclusive neighborhood with lots sizes over an acre or more and homes to match. Higher up the mountainside, these “Estate Lots” will have the best views of the canyon in a gated community. Me, I am just a commoner down here in the neighborhood with an uncommon enjoyment of where I live.

Purple martin sillouette 7-29-09

I have been all over Arizona lately with trips to Coolidge, Superior, Miami and Globe. Yes, there is a town named Miami in Arizona, but it’s nothing like a beach. Located high in the Pinal Mountains, it is a mining town located deep in the canyons where copper is king. From there I have been to Maricopa, a small cow town in the west desert that is quickly growing up. I have been hot and weary and watching birds. Finally I am home.

Dirt Berm Hill 7-29-09

Home in my Sycamore Canyon. Home in the Sonoran Desert. All around me saguaros tower, mesquite trees rustle in the desert wind. Palo Verde trees provides thick cover for the birds. Cholla cacti provide homes and food for birds and mammals. The many tentacled ocotillos are thick with leaves at the moment, in spite of the fact that our monsoon has been mostly a no show this year. So far it has not rained often enough to even fill the retention basin next to my house. I have not seen a Sonoran desert toad in days. I have not heard their violent mating cries about the steady drone of rain. If it does not rain, will they not mate? I don’t know the answer to that. And come to think of it, where do they lay their eggs, and how do the babies hatch? These are desert questions that I need to find answers to.

Sycamore Canyon Desert 7-29-09

With the rising sun I feel the sweat starting to trickle down the center of my back. I hurry along the canyon’s west rim now and up and over the bermed hill created by leftover dirt from the construction sites. I stay in the shadow of these dirt mounds as much as I can until I have no choice. All in all it is still a pleasant walk back home again as birds sing me all the way back. It has not warmed up enough yet for the lizards to be out. I have not seen any snakes, but as I cross the dirt bermmed hill I meet the morning dog walkers and joggers. Others are emerging from their homes while I am heading back to mine. It was 108 degrees yesterday and we should get close to that again today. By the time I am home at 7:20 it is already 81 up here, but down in Tucson the weather girl reports they are already at 86 degrees!

In My World today at home...

...a butterfly has found the asclepia...

...mesquite bugs are everywhere...

...a single pomegrante is growing in my garden...

...while the oranges grow fat and green on my dwarf orange tree!

Here in the heat of a desert summer morning this is My World.

(All photos were taken by Kathie. Please click to enlarge)


bobbie said...

The mountains look so lovely. The butterfly is magnificent. I do enjoy your walks!

Louise said...

Beautiful scenery, and the close-ups are phenomenal. The butterfly is my favorite. I'm sorry your view of the mountains about to be blocked. Our view has changed significantly since we moved here. A little sad, but there is nothing to be done a bout it.

Kathie Brown said...

Bobbie, so good to hear from you! I have missed everyone and I hope to get caught up soon!

Louise, I'm glad you enjoyed the butterfly. The houses will not block all of my views, but they will certainly be more intrusive on my privacy! I do like a natural space!

abb said...

Your world is beautiful - cement trucks not included.

Gaelyn said...

I'm glad you still have a beautiful natural place to walk serenaded by the birds. It's a shame you'll loose part of your delightful view to a house that probably doesn't need to be built.

Diane AZ said...

Sounds like you've been busy even with the heat. Beautiful photo of the foundation pour and I like how you compared the equipment to a large insect. It is too bad the view you are used to will be blocked by the construction.

Texas Travelers said...

I enjoyed the walk and great photos as usual. We've had a little rain and the temp is finally under 100 again.

I'll try to catch up on all of the great stuff here.

I'm back to posting so,
A Three-Banded Grasshopper is up for viewing.
To see the post, Click here.
Troy and Martha

Arija said...

A masterly walk through your world Kathie. On summer mornings and even winter ones I like to be out and about where I have the world to myself for a while and all is birdsong and growing light. I am so sorry your view is disappearing bt I am sure you with your deep interest in all things natural are a much more contented person than those in the dress circle of the money belt. All we really need is a heart at peace with itself in a body as healthy as it can be and the love of family and friends, and in this spirit I send mine to you.

Deborah Godin said...

Wonderful notes - your descriptions are so vivid, I easily felt I was there!

Celeste said...

Kathie it sounds as though home is definitely were the heart is for you, your descriptions of your neighbourhood and its avian inhabitants are always such a joy.

Mary C said...

Hi Kathie - It's always such a good visit when I come here. I'm so glad you "share" the desert where you live. When I saw the photo of the prickly pears I thought of the post you had last summer when you and friends made the prickly pear jelly. Will you be making some again this summer?

Larry said...

So that's what a prickly pear is.-Mys sister used to give me pears for dessert when I was a kid and call them prickly pears. I was afraid to eat them.

Kathie Brown said...

tsannie, the sunrise even makes the cement trucks look pretty!

Gaelyn and Diane, I am sorry to lose that view but it takes only a few steps out my front door to get lost in the desert with views beyond compare!

Texas Travlers! So good to see you back! Welcome!

Arija, you are so right! Thank you!

Deborah, I am so glad!

Celeste, thank you. It pleases me to no end to know my writing has this affect on anyone!

Mary, I have not gone out picking yet but I am thinking about it. It has been so hot and dry and life has been so busy. If I make jelly this year I am afraid I will be on my own. Thank you for asking.

Larry, I would be surprised if she fed you prickly pears in the east, though it is possible. The birds love these and their faces and droppings are all stained red at this time of year. The seeds in these will break a tooth if you try to bite one. They are hard as stones!