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Thursday, April 30, 2020

On the Line and On the Wing

Curbed-bill thrasher


The clothesline really gets in the way of our birdwatching and trying to photograph the birds. On the other hand, do the clothespins look like birds to you, too?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Trees in the Wash

These stunning trees were only a few of the hardy, determined individuals we admired on the last Adventure Close to Home. Home, of course, at present is here in southeast Arizona, where we continue to shelter in place.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Adventures Close to Home: All But the Pigs

Deeply cut bank of the wash, our trail for the day

This morning we two humans (Therese and I) and three dogs (Buddy, Mollie, and Sarah) explored a different section of the Philadelphia Wash, an arroyo that runs down through our neighborhood from the Dos Cabezas Mountains. The section we visited today is favored by shade on one side if you get out early enough, but the sunny side pictured above glowed red in the morning light, sun already well above the horizon when we set out. 

I have never been in Arizona during monsoon season to seen a dry wash become a dangerous, roaring, life-threatening torrent, but the vertical cut of the bank above gives some idea of what rushing water can do during a summer storm. Here is an explanation of an Arizona wash from the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, and I'll quote from it briefly for those who can't be bothered following links:

Desert washes are also called xeroriparian habitats to indicate their relationship with rivers. Like typical rivers, washes are linear, chronically disturbed habitats that concentrate water and nutrients from a large area, and serve as dispersal corridors for plants and animals.

Netleaf hackberry in wash

Xeroriparian -- dry river habitat -- dry, yes, but a kind of natural highway providing more in the way of nutrition and moisture than surrounding high desert and mountains. Note the advanced spring green of the hackberry tree with its feet deep in the wash. Mesquite too reach deep to find moisture beneath the dusty surface.

Therese, my hiking guide and guru
Love the exposed rock!

These are determined roots!

Something I need to identify...

Buddy likes the shade. We all do.

Another of those DYCs

Tiny but bright

A look back to orient myself to the way we have come

We are making the return trip now

Remember this exposed rock?
It happened right around here --

What happened? The biggest excitement of the morning, more than we really needed: a troop of javelina crossed the wash up ahead of us. Quick, distract dogs! Get leashes on dogs! A little farther along, we looked back and saw the "pigs," as people call them, in the wash behind us! Their eyesight is very poor, and it's not likely they were stalking us, but I made as loud and deep and scary a sound as I could, several times, in their direction. "You're freaking out the dogs," I as told. "I want to freak out the javelinas so they don't come charging after us!" The pigs took a different path, and after we all calmed down, Therese and unleashed our dogs again so that they and we could all enjoy the walk more.

So, no photos of javelinas! Too busy with dogs to bother with camera! And no photos, either, of the mule deer Therese spotted, so high on the mountain that I couldn't see them at all until they moved. No telephoto lens. 

Anyway, as the sun reached even into our shady places, we needed to get back home soon. Midday is no time to hike in southern Arizona.

Sun is reaching for us...
Can you even see Sarah here?

It was a pretty arduous trek for a couple of old dogs like Sarah and me, but she drank water every time I offered it to her (finishing a whole bottle in the course of the walk) and took advantage of shade at every opportunity, so although I sometimes think these expeditions are too much for her, I was glad she hadn't missed another exciting morning with our neighborhood pack. We will be tired for the rest of the day, both of us, but it's worth it to feel we are living life to its fullest -- which isn't easy in these strange times, is it?

Tired but happy dog!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Too Much Pleasure!

That horse is having way too much fun -- but who am I to talk? After all the times I've been down this road, hoping for a distant glimpse of "my darlings," as I call a couple of them, today the whole herd was so close to the fence that I almost cried from happiness!

That one there with the white face looked very strangely marked when I first caught sight of her as we came down the road. Closer, it was obvious that some of the horses had been rolling in the mud, as you saw that first one rolling in the dust up there. Dirty coats? They had been having the time of their lives!

Usually when we see a group of horses, David and I decide which one each of us would take, if we had the chance to have one. This time he preferred the one in the image just above. At first I thought the one just below here would be my choice, but all of them were so beautiful, I finally said, "Can't we just have them all?" And he said, "Sure. We can have them all." When you're dreaming, after all, there's no reason not to dream big.

Little girl! She was only a baby last year!
In short, it was a horse visit for the memory book. David thinks they will remember me, too, another time. I'm not sure of that, but you can bet I won't be leaving home without carrots and apples in the cooler any time soon. One of this herd declined my carrots but was happy to accept slices of apple. Something for everyone!

See you next time!