Posts Tagged ‘Sonoran Desert’

Gila Woodpeckers favor saguaro cacti for their homes, which is one reason I’m always looking at them. — Photo by Pat Bean

          One of the many delightful things about living in Tucson are the Saguaros, a slow-growing cactus that at about the age of 50 develops tree-branch arms. The cactus then lives on for another hundred years or so, continuing to grow more arms and stretch up toward the sky.

          They are visible all-around Tucson’s Sonoran Desert landscape. In the area’s monsoon seasons– sadly absent the past couple of years – the trunks of the cactus take in and store water to last it during the dry spells. You can visibly see the saguaros trunk bulge after a heavy rain.

For the nine years I’ve now lived in Tucson, I’ve also watched these cacti sprout enchanting white flowers with golden centers on the tips of their arms for a few weeks each spring.

This spring the blossoms were more abundant than I’ve ever seen them, plus the blossoms were also growing elsewhere on the cacti. It’s something I haven’t seen before, and neither have others. The phenomena has been strange enough that desert ecologists are trying to come up with an answer for it.

 One thought is that the area’s drought and above-average heat are behind the changes in the saguaros.

Meanwhile, I’ve noticed another phenomena here at my apartment complex in Tucson’s Catalina Foothills. We have an abundance of house sparrow babies. I can’t step outside my apartment without seeing a host (the name for a group of sparrows) littering the grass where I walk. I would enjoy them more if my canine companion Scamp didn’t think it would be fun to try and catch one, an action I highly oppose.

I do, however, enjoy waking up in the mornings to their cheery chirp…chirp…chirps.  

I suspect that their parents took advantage of the many thick bushes around the complex for nesting and the abundance of water sprinklers that are used to keep two of the apartment’s three courtyards green. I also suspect the abundance of sparrows is probably why our resident great horned owls continue to raise their young in the tall trees that look down on those courtyards.

So what is Mother Nature up to where you live?

Pat Bean is a retired, award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

An old saguaro that I thought looked like an old man, whose death I watched over a period of several months.

Read Full Post »

Dang Pack Rats

I love that I can see Gambel Quail around my apartment complex. Too bad, however, that Pack Rats are also my neighbors. — Photo by Pat Bean.

Living in Covid Time 

          “Fate is not an eagle. It creeps like a rat.” – Elizabeth Bowen

I just spent $592 on car repairs because I live in the Sonoran Desert, home to Pack Rats that used my vehicle’s engine wires and parts as chew toys


That’s a lot more costly than when my newly acquired canine companion, Scamp, chewed up 13 rolls of toilet paper during his first couple of months in his new home last year.

Dang Pack Rat! — Wikimedia photo

But it’s not my first run in with Pack Rats. The first time I learned about these ratty critters was shortly after I took to the RV-ing life. After spending a week camped in Yellowstone National Park, I noticed my engine-problem light had come on. When I took the RV in to be checked out, the mechanic discovered a Pack Rat nest under the hood.

Fortunately, the only damage that time was a loose wire.

My next encounter with these came after I bought my current car in 2014, and left my RV parked at my daughter’s home near a wild desert landscape. Since it sat there for quite a while before the Pack Rat invaders were discovered, the damage was even more costly than my recent repair bill.

Pack Rats have to chew constantly to keep their teeth, which continually grow, to a manageable length. And since many new cars have soy-based wiring, the rats have learned they can chew and enjoy a snack at the same time.

Although I live in a large, well-lighted apartment complex, it is located next to an undeveloped landscape that is probably full of Pack Rats. And since I have been isolating myself because of the coronavirus, I have rarely been driving my vehicle, and those dang Pack Rats saw an opportunity they couldn’t resist.

Strobe lights beneath a vehicle are about the only remedy that works against the Pack Rats, although some have suggested that the rats don’t like the scent of Irish Spring soap. I tried that remedy when the danged critters were first discovered under the hood of my RV parked at my daughter’s home. I think the rats used it as just another chew toy.


I guess I’m just going to have to at least drive my car around the block every day – or take it and Scamp for a scenic drive somewhere in the Pack Rat’s Sonoran Desert home. Actually, I like that last idea.

Bean Pat: To kind, caring and loving people all over the world who, I optimistically believe, make up the majority of earth’s population

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

Read Full Post »

Looking across the valley from the undeveloped ridge near my apartment complex where I often take my morning walks, — Photo by Pat Bean

“… an ordinary desert supports a much greater variety of plants than does either a forest or a prairie.” — Ellsworth Hunting

Just a Happy Accident

A gila woodpecker on a saguaro cactus, one of many I see on my walks in the desert. — Photo by Pat Bean

Six years ago, after spending nine years traveling this country full-time in a small RV with my canine companion Maggie, I made a small third-floor apartment in Tucson my home. It was an unplanned move, but the time had come when I wanted a nightly hot bath instead of a skimpy shower; and I wanted the pleasure of a local library. This southeastern Arizona apartment complex had a nice bathtub, was dog friendly with shady places to walk my pet, a library was close by and, just as important, it was affordable.

It also helped that my youngest daughter lived in town, the area was a great place to watch birds, and my new apartment stood in the shadow of the Catalina Mountains, which are comparable in their 10,000-foot elevation to Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, whose shadows I lived in for 25 years before I retired, sold my home and bought my RV — I’m not sure I could ever again live away from mountains. That I found

A Tucson sunset. — Photo by Pat Bean

myself living in the middle of the Sonoran Desert was just a happy accident.

The surprise has been how much I have learned to love the desert, particularly this morning during my early walk with my current canine companion Pepper – after I read about all the snow storms taking place elsewhere in the country.

Life is good – and this old broad is happy and grateful for her many blessings.

Bean Pat: Good signs https://simpletravelourway.wordpress.com/2018/11/26/consider-this/?wref=pil This goes along with my goal of encouraging people to be kind to one another.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is available on Amazon.  She is now working on a book tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

Read Full Post »