In the desertscape: small bites, odd critters and prickly hearts...
Our days in this new place are still dominated by an overall feeling of chaos. We have a new home, yet we are hardly settled. It is a pleasant chaos ripe with the unknown and the sense of endless things yet to be discovered; a fascinating predicament, causing us to experience a kind of exhilaration on a daily basis. We are excited about this latest domicile, if slightly anxious as well.
A daily routine and one which has permeated our schedules for years is the morning walk with our dog. Often I will take her by myself. Other times, my husband will join us as we traipse over hill and dale, usually three or so miles; enough to get the blood flowing and the lungs breathing deeply. A sacred time to clear one’s head and to plan for the day ahead or to mull over various thoughts and ideas. For a writer and an artist, such an occasion in each day is truly a necessity.
Our morning walks are also a boundless exercise in exploration and observation. One learns limitless things simply by strolling the same territory over long periods of time. When I was in college and too poor to afford a car (or after I finally bought a used one, yet had no money to buy the fuel for it), I used to believe that one should always try to hike the roads and routes which one drove. Besides the obvious fitness aspects, walking, I have always believed, affords one an entirely different view of the landscape rather than speeding across the same spaces in a car, even at slow speeds. In a noisy oil mobile, one doesn’t see the bugs, the shyest of birds or have the opportunity to experience the subtle scents of a place.
Now living on the eastern edge of Tucson Arizona, we see new and different sights each morning. Lately, it has been the shy and sweet Javelinas; those hairy desert pigs that roam freely in Sonora. Our paths are also regularly crossed by the likes of the abundant albeit bashful desert bunnies with their beige fur bodies and white cottontails, and fearless tan coyotes that lope along slowly and seem to be the quiet, if arrogant keepers of the sandy arid paths which we travel daily.
After a particularly wet and ferocious monsoon season here (in late summer) the desert bramble and brush is copious; prickly pear and mesquite are thick and lush in the Este Wash which dominates the area where our new home is located. A long section of the wash is a boundary of our new property.
As we amble along our daily desert trail, I have begun to see a variety of deformations of prickly pear, apparently caused by bite marks. It seems that the Javelina and perhaps other yet to be discovered critters find these nopales to be quite tasty. They love to bite the delectable fruits from the prickly pear bushes and their teeth marks cause the plants to bear a slight scar. Oddly it is a blemish of love and so, after much scrutiny I discovered something of a visual phenomenon akin to somebody’s interpretation of prickly pear formations which are reminiscent of Mickey Mouse. My dog, my husband and I have seen endless examples of prickly hearts. Once you begin to see them, you discover that they are everywhere, quietly growing to mend the bite marks of the hungry desert piggies and others; a furtive sign of abundance and contentment in the calm, yet robust desert flora. Clearly, a sign that someone has been eating well and is feeling lovingly sated after the summer storms.
Plainly, we conclude via observation, that for once, we have landed where we ought to be: a pleasant and warm place, yet one where the only toughest survive.
Prickly hearts is truly a synonym for our new home, for our new life.
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