Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My World: Saguaro National Park East

Catalina Mountains as seen from the Javalina Picnic area 11-15-09

Driving away from Agua Caliente Park the warm autumn sun bathes my car in sunlight. I drive into town to purchase my lunch then head east to Saguaro National Park’s Rincon unit. Saguaro National Park is divided into 2 separate sections with the Tucson Mountain region on the west and the Rincon Mountain unit on the east. Tucson lies in the great bowl between these two mountain ranges, a hub of activity surrounded by quiet nature.

Though the western section of Saguaro National Park is the most visited the eastern park is larger and more peaceful to me. I drive here now with my lunch and take the turn to the Javalina Picnic Area which is located to the south and west of the 8 mile loop road. I have spent all morning with Celeste and her husband in Agua Caliente Park in Northeast Tucson. It is such a beautiful day that I am not ready yet to go inside. With Gus at home watching football I have his blessing to stay out and enjoy myself.

Antelope ground squirrel 11-15-09

I am no sooner seated at a picnic table before the little creatures start to emerge. First an antelope ground squirrel scurries up. It looks at me inquisitively testing to see if I will offer it a bite to eat, but I do not. Not only is it against park rules, but I do not want this little creature to come to depend on humans for its existence. Shortly after the ground squirrel makes its appearance a cactus wren hops by. It twists and turns and investigates before moving off into the brush once again. Hmmn, I think perhaps these little guys have been fed by someone before me!

Black-throated sparrow 11-15-09

Soon I hear the chatter and calls of some Gambel's quail. They walk so close to me that I can almost reach out and touch them. No one harms the critters here and you can tell they have pretty much lost their fear of man. Oh that the world could always be like this! As golden sunlight bathes the desert in its warm light I hear the silvery sound of a black-throated sparrow as it flits up onto a nearby rock. I love these pretty little birds with their black caps and white eye stripes. I love their bell-like voices that flutter over the desert. This little bird seems to be alone today as it flies to a nearby bush, then disappears into its habitat.

Rufous-winged sparrow 11-15-09

All around me is warmth and sunshine and peaceful solitude. With my lunch finished I pack away the remnants, then wander the hillside searching for birds. Two little rufous-winged sparrows hop out of the brush searching the packed earth for food. I watch their little hops in the dirt. I see their small bodies casting long shadows over gravel. Everything is a bit distorted and over dramatized in this late autumn light.

Before me the rocks glow with autumn-colored lichen forming beadwork on its surface.

Even the sharp spines of teddy bear cholla glisten in this dazzling light.

Western view from the rocks above the Javalina Picnic Area 11-15-09

A gentle breeze riffles my hair blowing stands into my eyes. I search the cliffs and mountains ridges around me. I search the sky for motion, but all is still and quiet. So quiet!

The Javalina Picnic Area sits down in a bit of its own bowl. I find it is a good place to bird because usually you can just sit here and the birds will come to you. It is in this location that I saw my first and only black-chinned sparrow. Here I have seen rocks wrens and kestrels, cardinals and hawks. I am walking the rocky rim of the bowl when I see a flash of red down the slope below me and on the other side of the picnic area. I do not even guess that it is a bird. The patch of red is too large. Since I am walking, I catch the glimpse between bushes and cactus. I stop and look through an opening and I see a woman sitting in a chair facing west. The sinking sun has flooded her face with light and she seems so peaceful there. I do not want to stop and stare. I assume she does not want company, so I change directions and walk on. I feel like I have found some bird in its nest. Her location is a secret that I will not divulge. I leave her to her solitude and walk on.

I have spent the whole day outside by now and it is getting late. From the high rocks on the south I stand and gaze to the western horizon which blazes with a cool white light. Deep shadows fall long and dark across the picnic area. I find my way to the car and drive out of the park. My day in the sun and fresh air has left me feeling so mellow. I do not want to hurry home. I do not want this feeling to fade just yet. I decide to take the long road home and so I turn south on Old Spanish Trail and drive the black asphalt ribbon before me. I can’t help but wonder as I drive if this is the way that other people feel when they are high or they have a buzz on from drinking. I have never understood the need for drinking or for drugs. I have always found that nature alone gives me the only “high” I need. But this high has one benefit beyond the artificially induced state of alcohol or drugs, there are no bad side effects, and no hangover the next day. As I turn south on Pistol Hill road the sun sinks below the horizon and I point my car towards home. It has been a very good day in MY World.

To see more amazing places in the world click on the link above.

On a personal note: I am so sorry I have been absent for so long. As many of you know, I have a son in the military who recently moved to a new base. He and his wife are expecting a new baby any day and I just found out yesterday that they absolutley NOthing for the new baby. Nothing! and I mean Nothing! Diane was able to go to a thrift shop and buy some used baby clothes yesterday. They have a crib on order, but they are so new to this base. They have no friends and no family and no one to do a baby shower for them. I spent the last 2 days shopping and sending off boxes. The baby will be here soon. I will let you know when she arrives. It is very hard to be this far away right now. I would go there, but I have my other son and grandchildren flying in from Maine for 3 weeks. Much as I would like to, I cannot be everywhere at once. So send up a small prayer for a soilder and his wife and a new baby about to enter this troubled world. And in case you haven't noticed, I am not very good at keeping up on Facebook! I am not shunning anyone, I just would rather blog first and Facebook later if I have time!


Gaelyn said...

What a beautiful way to spend the afternoon Kathie. Nature is its own high. I really need to visit this park.
Blessings sent to your son, DIL and the new little girl.

bobbie said...

I enjoyed spending the day with you, Kathie.

Love and best wishes to the new little grandchild and Mama and Daddy. They are lucky to have a grandmom like you. Hope you get to visit them soon.

Deborah Godin said...

Pure poetry!

eileeninmd said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful walk. I hope all goes well with your new grandchild. Happy Thanksgiving.

Ruth said...

Just catching up on you last few posts. I do wish I would have had more time to do so birding on our recent trip. Remembering you family at this time of separation. I am sure your support and love is appreciated from a distance. Babies need love, not lots of new things, and this baby will be blessed with a loving family.

DeniseinVA said...

Happy Thanksgiving Kathie and I would like to add my congratulations on the new grandbaby. How wonderful! Another lovely walk you took us on also.

Mary N. said...

Wonderful post! Beautiful pictures!
Congratulations on your new grandchild :) I enjoyed the poem on your other site and now I realize why you wrote it.

Girl Tornado said...

What a blissful day, and I loved your photos. The little antelope ground squirrel is so cute, and you captured such great photos!

Best wishes to the new mummy and daddy on their soon to come daughter... they are so very lucky to have you for a grandmum! :)

Arija said...

A wonderful way to finish a perfect day. love the antelope groundsquirrel, all the birds and above all the peace you found.

Kathie, blogger had dropped you off the blogs I follow, so I had to root around to connect you up again.

What do you mean do I like Anne Shirley? She tought me English when I was thirteen and spoke not a word on arrival in Australia.
Before the fire I had all the L.M.Montgomery Anne series.
I've got the collection of videos too....seems like we're a couple of birds of a feather.