The Teacher & the Student

Our dog Ellie lies on the throw rug in front of the door in October 2014

Taken two minutes apart on Halloween of 2014, Ellie teaches Boo how to wait by the door so they can greet me when I come home from work (he was always eager to take her spot after she got up). Our first cat Templeton used to wait by the door for me, then Scout learned it from him, and Sam and Emma from Scout. But after Ellie arrived the cats learned to hold back a bit as her feet started dancing but she was looking at me and not at cats who might have wandered underfoot. Sam and Boo sometimes greet me at the door now but not with the consistency of the old days.

Our cat Boo sits on the throw rug in front of the door in October 2014


An adult white-crowned sparrow perches in a tree on the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in December 2019

We had a variety of sparrows on display in Oregon but during the winter at my favorite refuge the big flocks I’d see were golden-crowns. I have lost count of the many ways the desert has surprised me but one was that here too I’d see flocks of sparrows in the winter, only now it’s white-crowns and black-throats. I saw white-crowns in Oregon but not nearly in the numbers I see them here, it’s such a joy to stand still as the sun rises and watch a flock flit about me as they make their morning rounds.

New Growth

A Say's phoebe perches on the broken arm of an old saguaro in George Doc Cavalliere Park in Scottsdale, Arizona in February 2020

It is not necessarily a death sentence when an old giant loses an arm, they seal off the wound as best they can to prevent water loss and go on to live their best lives. While a new arm will not grow where the old one once stood, sometimes the saguaro will slowly push out a phoebe in its stead.