Sunday, February 18, 2018

Desert Blessings...

We saw these seed pods on a tree while we were parked in a parking lot.  After doing a little research, we discovered that they are from a "Bottle Tree" or Brachychiton tree.  It's a native to Australia, but thrives in Arizona.
Our first full day in Tucson started out by running errands and collecting things for the upcoming show.  Despite the best of intentions and preparation, there is almost always something that was left behind or needed on location.  It's always a blessing to have this day to ease into these types of work trips.

One of the things that I love about Tucson is how different the plant life is.  This time of year in Southwestern Pennsylvania can be awfully dreary and monochromatic. I can appreciate the beauty of snow and blustery winter, but generally by this point in the winter, I'm pretty tired of it.  So seeing green and big bright blue skies was a welcome shock to the system.

Kelvin cholla at dusk at the Catalina State Park.
We were fortunate enough to finish our preparation work early and were able to go on a short hike!  Cynthia and I headed north towards Oro Valley to the Catalina State Park.  As soon as we pulled in and stopped to pay, we saw a coyote slink across the road.  It was an absolutely majestic creature.  Both of us sat there in silence, observing this beautiful animal.

Panoramic shot of Catalina State Park.
Neither Cynthia or I are of the sturdy variety, so we did a pretty easy hike.  Around us was a garden of cacti.  Reaching up to the skies, the saguaro stood like praising sentinels.  Flanking the path were a smattering of prickly pears, different varieties of cholla, golden flower crowned barrel cacti, and pink blossoming hedgehog cacti.  We walked through creosote bushes that smelled of rain.  When most people think of the desert, they imagine a barren place.  But, to me, it's a place of hidden beauty and strength.  Sometimes you have to look a little closer, but when you do, you see an amazing array of diversity and interesting characteristics that make the plants able to survive the extremes of the desert.

I would definitely like to go back and explore more!  We just scratched the surface of the park and there's so much more that I'd like to take in.  Next time I'll bring a field guide.

Cynthia Thornton at the Catalina State Park.
Being out in nature was nice, but even better was sharing it with Cynthia.  We haven't been able to see each other as much as either of us would like, so it was nice to be able to talk and catch up and dream up new ideas together.  We marveled at the architecture of "cactus bones" and would show each other interesting rocks we found.  I laughed myself hoarse when Cynthia moved a branch with her foot and out oozed this black goo that smelled like rotting fish!
As we made our way back to the car, taking in the technicolor sunset, we heard singing in the distance.  At first it was one voice and then there was a chorus of haunting yips and howls.  It sounded like laughter.  It sounded like crying.  The coyotes were singing their twilight song and blessing us on our way.

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