Monday, January 17, 2011

Tucson morning . . .

As I struggle with my writing, every morning begins anew. The words don't come, so I walk out on the patio high above Tucson, the sun just lifting over the mountain, blue sky above, birds calling, bright morning everywhere.

And then she comes, as if I were invisible, a small green hummingbird. I stand still. She flits from branch to branch, then settles for long moments, tiny green in the brush. She stares at me, through me. Only her small brown head moves, checking everywhere. She stares at me again, and then she is gone.

Around me, the arroyo teems with life. Other birds fly by: a male Anna's Hummingbird preens nearby; a House Finch brown and blush-red balances atop a bare-limbed tree. Several Saguaro stand sentinel nearby, their limbs punctuated by holes, little nests for burrowing birds, an occasional owl, a cactus wren. Down in the valley, cars stream along ribbon roads. Back to the den I go, all enclosed, the outside world fades, invisible, and I write.

Today's prompt comes from Sunday Scribblings, prompt number 250! An amazing writer's blog. Visit to write or read on . . .

Saturday, January 15, 2011

At Tohono Chul Park . . .

Yesterday we walked through Tohono Chul Park, rather small at under 50 acres, but a delightful meandering through desert plantings, particularly the Saguaro cactus, pronounced Sa-hwa-ro), considered a person by the O'Odham tribe. It's a little early for the wild flowers, but the sun was warm enough that we didn't need sweaters. I was buzzed by a bright green hummingbird, maybe because my hat had flowers on it.

Tucson, Arizona

We saw Monarch butterflies, and delighted in pincushion cactus, barrel cactus (their buds just coming on), and bunny ear cactus (more like Mickey Mouse). We were fascinated by the history and interplay between the native peoples and the Saguaro cactus, which is very slow growing, often living up to 150-200 years. Not only a source of water (in a single rainstorm, it can absorb up to 200 gallons of water), the Saguaro can weigh up to 8 tons fully grown (90% water!). The O'Odham tribe, before modern times, were nomadic and their calendar was organized around the flowering and fruiting of the Saguaro. The seeds of the Saguaro are very small and thrive best near the protective branches of the palo verdes (green stick trees), seen everywhere in the desert here.

Also at the park, I was drawn to the vivid prints of Gerald Dawavendewa, who works with symbols from the Hopi and Cherokee tradition, especially his print of four bright green circling hummingbirds. Much to see here in sunny Tucson that is good.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tucson update . . .

Wednesday night we slept for the first time in this modern, very formal adobe mansion, high enough for a sweeping view of Tucson, yet snuggled against the Santa Catalina mountains. This four-bedroom, four-bathroom house is designed almost concentrically, enfolding circles on itself, so that surprising nooks and crannies abound. We counted (in addition to the living room, and excluding the master bedroom, which appropriately is off limits), five sitting areas.

Outside, palo verdes (thorny green stick trees) surround an immense patio with a swimming pool and additional nooks for gathering people together. At night, with stars so close, the desert air sharp and cold, and the lights of Tucson below, the house seems to float. The large screen TV is currently stuck on ESPN News to Allen’s delight, but the internet works beautifully. It's quiet here and a very good place to write.

Yesterday, Allen fell asleep on the patio in the sun with his newspaper. The dining room is now cosy with cyclamen and four chairs instead of six. I brought in our camping dishes since I could not find any mixing bowls and do not want to cook with bone china. What if I dropped something?

Each day I drive to my sister’s and try to help as I can. She has recovered from surgery and her spirits are good. Her desire to move about and do things is recovering just a little faster than her stamina and her body. So we are now “home” in Tucson until the end of February and then will be back on the road.

Sunday, January 02, 2011


Philadelphia, January 2011. A city of crowded expressways (not freeways), downtown skyscrapers lit with holiday lights, Boathouse Row twinkles by the Museum, its columns all golden at night. Drivers don’t hesitate at stop signs or narrow streets. The city is a constant stream of people, cell phones pressed to their ears, lights, motion, the jazz drummer on the corner playing frenetically, no gloves despite snow pushed to the side. Out in the neighborhoods, along City Line, Manyunk, Roxboro, Society Hill, Chestnut Hill, stone houses, themselves lit with color, are softened by snow everywhere, and dusk is just falling.

Past the reservoir next to City Line and Belmont, we stop to watch Canada geese. A group of eight or ten birds circle and lift and splash down, their cries reassurance they have found a rest stop on their journey south. They call the next group down just for the night, and they call to each other and splash and settle down. A third group flies low in the dusky night, their cries fill the night, and they circle and come down onto the water. An occasional bird cry, and all is still. Even the city seems still.

Fiona Robyn and Kaspa started a river of stones, a blog that asks participants to commit to write daily through January, some small reflection from the day. Since we are on the road for the next while, I thought it would be fun to post these "stones" to mark our journey.