This Chart Keeps Me Up at Night

A comparison of the monthly average highs and lows betwen Portland and Phoenix

This chart isn’t literally keeping me up at night but of the many unknowns in both starting a new job and moving to a new area it’s what scares me the most. It compares the average monthly high and low temperatures throughout the year, the highs and lows for Portland in blue, Phoenix in red and orange. I can’t wrap my head around how the lows in Phoenix match the highs in Portland.

I think I’ll love the winter in Arizona. I think I’ll hibernate in the summer.

We’ll have air conditioning, and the house we hope to rent has a lovely pool (as does our backup option). I love to swim but have rarely had the chance for decades so that I am very much looking forward to. And that’s not all, as there will be lizards. Oh yes, there will be lizards. I can think of only one lizard I saw in 21 years of hiking in the wet side of the Northwest. I saw them in the dry side to the east, and perhaps I’m forgetting some I saw on my side of the Cascades, but if so they were the exceptions that prove the rule: reptiles are few and far between near Portland. We met this eastern fence lizard (I think) on the Little Arsenic Trail in the high desert of New Mexico, looking forward to seeing lizards in the Sonoran Desert where we will live.

Reptiles and heat, one of them I’m going to love, hopefully I can at least tolerate the other.

An eastern fence lizard sits on a rock beside the Little Arsenic Trail in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico

(Almost) Still Waters

An alligator swims with only its head above water in the low light after sunset

The sun had set and it was getting dark, so I started to put my camera away but paused when I noticed the waters of the freshwater lagoon weren’t as quiet as they first appeared. This environmental portrait of an alligator swimming with only its head above water is one of my favorites of these magnificent creatures.

Crab Breakfast

An American alligator lurches forward and scoops up a crab from the marsh at Huntington Beach State Park in South Carolina

As the sun rose, I noticed a group of alligators in this marshy section of the freshwater lagoon at Huntington Beach State Park but didn’t realize why they were there. Then one suddenly lurched forward and scooped up a little crab from the mats of organic material (algae? bacteria?) floating in the water, and then another did it, and another. It was remarkable how quickly they would go from floating motionless to catching the crabs and back to floating motionless.

An American alligator raises its head to swallow a crab at Huntington Beach State Park in South Carolina