If I Could Drive 1000 Miles

My 2020 Lexus UX 250h is parked on a rainy afternoon at George Doc Cavalliere Park in Scottsdale, Arizona in February 2020

After a month of ownership the Lexus tipped past the 1000 mile mark on the way home from work yesterday. Life is different here, there were occasional times in Portland that would have been a year’s driving for me (most years I drove double or triple that). I upgraded the car for several reasons but I hoped to improve my fuel economy in the process, which was harder than it sounds as my Subaru was getting 32 MPG (about 30.5 in the summer). I expected the little hybrid to beat that but I wasn’t sure by how much given the nature of my commute, but thankfully it’s improved my fuel economy by about a third. This picture is from Saturday, we got heavy rains in the morning but it began to clear in the afternoon so I paid a quick visit to a little city park near our house I hadn’t visited yet, George “Doc” Cavalliere Park.

Singing Soaptree Stalks

A curve-billed thrasher sings from a soaptree yucca flower stalk on a sunny winter morning on the Brown's Ranch Road trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in January 2020

When I think of flower stalks I think of the delicate stems of the wildflowers I’d see on hikes through most of my life, like daisies or columbine or fairly slippers. The soaptree yucca, on the other hand, has a towering stalk that’s thick at the base like a tree limb before tapering into thin branches at the top. Even so it is a testament to how impossibly light birds are that this bedraggled thrasher only slightly depressed its perch as it sang on a sunny winter morning.

I, Cat Bed

Our cat Boo sleeps on my legs while I rest on the couch, taken on the morning of Christmas Eve in December 2019

I’ve posted a similar picture of Boo before and while this one is from Christmas Eve I could have taken many more like it, as since the fall our sometimes snuggler has been my constant companion. Sometimes sleeping on my legs or behind my head, his favorite is to wedge himself in tight between me and the edge of the couch, where he sleeps now. He’s always changed his sleeping positions over time, and I suspect when the long Phoenix winter relents and releases its icy grip he will return to more southerly regions, with their view from Boo Boxes of backyard birds and the mountains beyond. Until then I’ll enjoy every minute with our philosopher goofball, even if it makes for a crowded couch when all three cats come calling.

Morning Greetings

In the blue light before the sun was up, a northern mockingbird perches on the flower stalk of a soaptree yucca at the Brown's Ranch Trailhead in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in February 2020

With a headache not yet relenting I was delighted to be greeted as soon as I stepped off the parking lot by the songs of a mockingbird, perched on the flower stalk of a soaptree yucca. Technically the sun had risen but it would be a little while before it cleared the mountains and bathed us in its warm light. For now the mocker and I enjoyed the cool and the blue of the waking desert. I tore myself away in time to reach my target for the morning, a ladder-backed woodpecker, just as the sun arrived.

A black-and-white version of a northern mockingbird perching on the flower stalk of a soaptree yucca at the Brown's Ranch Trailhead in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in February 2020