An Unexpected Dilemma

A Mojave rattlesnake crawls across the desert near Brown's Ranch Road in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

I haven’t hiked as much the past month as I’ve been too tired to get up before sunrise and drive to the trails, usually only hiking once per weekend. I didn’t go at all last weekend because some chronic health issues flared up but after sleeping in yesterday this morning I was back on the trails and met this lovely Mojave rattlesnake, a new species for me. But it presented me with a dilemma I hadn’t expected.

It was at the edge of a wide trail and we saw each other from a distance so I was able to leave the trail and give it a wide berth, but a couple of mountain bikers came around the bend and I didn’t know if I should try to warn them. I didn’t have much time to decide and my hunch was they would be best to pass at speed, I figured the snake would leave them alone and in any event the trail was so wide they could stay out of striking range. I was afraid if I tried to flag them down they’d slam on the brakes and end up near the snake and possibly make the situation worse.

Neither of them saw the snake and passed close by but thankfully the snake hunkered down each time and they continued down the trail unaware. The rattler relaxed and made its way across the trail towards me. It wasn’t being aggressive so I backed up even further and let it choose its path, taking a few pictures as it slithered over to a dense bush and curled up in its shade. I’ll have to ask some riders what they would have wanted me to do, some people really dislike snakes so perhaps ignorance is bliss if the likelihood of an attack is quite low.

I Wonder How I Should Introduce Myself to Sam?

Our cat Sam sleeps on the bed as our kitten Boo looks at him from behind

Probably a sneak attack is best.

From 2013 after we adopted Boo, we kept him in isolation for a couple of weeks to let him build up his confidence and give the other pets time to adjust. The night before letting him into the house for the first time we let the other pets come into his room. Boo was eager to impress his older brother. Fortunately he did not follow through on his instinct to jump on Sam from behind.

Our kitten Boo looks like he is about to spring on our cat Sam from behind

Where Is Boo Sleeping?

Our cat Boo is hidden as he sleeps underneath the quilt on the guest bed

Scout loved sleeping under blankets as a kitten but outgrew it and only did it in her later years if she was upset, for example if there had been sustained loud construction nearby. Boo frequently does it because, well, he’s Boo.

Pure of Heart

Our orange tabby Sam as a kitten sitting on the cat seat beside the picture window in our house in Portland, Oregon

We’ve had six cats over the years but Sam more than any other wears his heart on his sleeve. He wants nothing more than to feel safe and to feel loved and showers you with love in return. He is now our oldest but it was never a crown he wished to wear, he was happiest when he had his older sisters to look out for him. This is Sam as a kitten in 2008, a couple of months after we adopted him, pondering the world outside the picture window. Thankfully while the move to Arizona was hardest on him he has adapted well, he’ll have another move a while down the road but it will be a short drive away so not nearly as stressful as the move from Oregon.

A Little Fun

Our cat Sam playing with a toy mouse as a kitten on the hardwood floor of our guest bedroom in 2007

The past couple of days have been so disheartening, let me share a little joy, young Samwise playing with a toy mouse shortly after we adopted him in 2007. He and Emma brought happiness after we mourned the death of our beloved Templeton.

Moths For Breakfast Again? That’s It, I’m Leaving!

A female Gila woodpecker brings a moth to the nest in an old saguaro as the male prepares to leave near an Off-map Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve

A female Gila woodpecker brings a moth to the nest as the male prepares to leave (the moth was for the hungry babies inside). The parents brought a variety of insects (and spiders, as she has in her beak below) to their nest in the old saguaro. The male seemed to spend more time in the nest and the female more time hunting during the mornings I watched them. It required a bit of a hike to get to the nest so I couldn’t get there right at first light but it was a treat to watch them nevertheless. I will always be amazed by the relentless energy parents spend getting their babies past those precarious early days.

I also have a 4K clip of them at the nest which I’ll learn to edit at some point and post here. Both pictures are from this spring after we had been in Arizona for about six weeks.

A female Gila woodpecker brings a spider to the nest in an old saguaro as the male prepares to leave  near an Off-map Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve