The Wilds

Last Friday was Wilderness Day.

In the morning, I was distracted by too many things to do in too little time. When I left to pick up Brooklyn from preschool, I accidentally left the garage open. We came home to a curve-billed thrasher flapping around in the garage. (Are you impressed with my bird identification skills?). We have some big windows on one side of the garage. Despite my attempts to free the bird by opening all the doors, it kept slamming into the windows. I pulled out a big, blue tarp and slowly guided (scared) it out.

After school, Andrew disappeared for a little bit. I was busy prepping a bunch of food and packing for Ricky and Rick to go camping, so I didn’t think too much of his absence until he came in the kitchen looking a little pale.

He had been in our side yard looking for precious rocks and minerals because I told him a true story of a girl who lived in the desert and liked to collect turquoise, garnets, and geodes. He was scanning his surroundings for shiny rocks or when he noticed an odd brown rock had moved. It was a bobcat, laying on the ground about 15 feet from him! He slowly backed away and came in the house to tell me. I went with him to check it out and took a picture (from farther than 15 feet away, of course).

We decided it’s probably better to go out with a buddy and tell Mom. The bobcat was sitting on the path that Ricky takes from the bus stop, so I drove down to the bus stop to pick him up. I think the bobcat was harmless and just resting. I’m sure it would have ran away if Ricky or Andrew accidentally got too close, but it’s better to be safe. Bobcats and coyotes have been on the trail other days when the kids have been walking home and the animals just keep their distance.

When I got home from driving Ricky to his camp out and Andrew and Sean to basketball, I decided I’d take a little break and enjoy the sunset. My phone just doesn’t do the sunsets here justice, but I’m still compelled to capture them anyway. I always imagined the desert as brown and mundane. I was wrong. I might be biased, but Tucson is a beautiful desert and much greener than I expected with the mesquite trees, saguaros, and palo verde trees. It’s certainly not a barren, sandy desert. And there’s so much color! The sunsets are spectacular.

I took Gavin for a little walk around the yard to enjoy the sunset and as we got closer to his swing, we could smell the fragrant new flowers in our big tree. They smelled so good that I decided to delay making dinner just a little longer and push Gavin on the swing. When we got under the tree, we heard buzzing. I’m not sure why I didn’t hear it before because it’s loud enough to hear from the back door if you’re paying attention. The bees love the smell of the flowers too! The buzzing was so loud, I thought we had a hive, so we went inside to research what to do about an unwanted hive.

I learned that we probably don’t have a hive, but we do have two giant African sumac trees that are known for blooming in January or February with small, fragrant green flowers that attract droves of bees. I also learned that some people in Tucson consider African sumac trees to be an invasive weed. I think these trees are beautiful and could almost call them my favorites if they weren’t competing against our orange and lemon trees. I was a little disappointed that they’re considered invasive bee-attractors.

It turns out that, like the bobcat, the bees were not at all interested in us. Andrew went out the next day to swing and listen to the calm buzzing and the bees were so busy with the flowers, they didn’t come near.

I love living here and learning about the plants and animals that are unique to our area. I’m also trying to learn the names of all the tropical plants in our yard. This one is hibiscus: