The Growing Banana

A banana yucca fruit begins to grow along the Upper Ranch Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2019

A banana yucca fruit begins to grow along the Upper Ranch Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve. I hadn’t photographed them last year when we moved to Arizona, I saw all and noticed little, but this year I realized how beautiful the entire process is from bud to flower to fruit. Towards the end of Ellie’s life I didn’t have much time for hiking when they were budding and flowering and after she died I wasn’t in the mood for photographing them regardless. I knew I was healing as the days progressed as though I initially walked past I came back and took the time to get out the macro lens and tripod and photograph the growing fruit amidst dried flowers in the soft light before sunrise.

I suppose it was a sign of my mental state that I posted this elsewhere but somehow it didn’t make it to the blog until now, not sure what happened.

Bookends

A white-winged dove and a canyon towhee bookend a fruiting saguaro before sunrise on the Latigo Trail in the Brown's Ranch section of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in July 2019

A white-winged dove and a canyon towhee bookend a fruiting saguaro before sunrise on the Latigo Trail. The morning lows are in the 80’s now, even I am wearing short sleeves on the trails. Normally I prefer long sleeves to physically keep the sun off my skin but for the next couple of months I’ll rely on sunscreen and being off the trails early before the sun gets too bright. Still wearing long pants though, too many things in the desert want to poke you when you get down low to photograph lizards.

I Am Not a Vampire

A white-winged dove perches on open saguaro fruit, its face drenched in saguaro fruit juice, on a summer morning on the Latigo Trail in McDowellSonoranPreserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in July 2018

Its pale eyes drained of color, of the red in the eyes and the blue that surrounds, its beak and face caked in red as if from blood, a juvenile white-winged dove has a bit of the look of a vampire. The look is all about time, not yet enough time for the color to form in its eyes, the time of year for the face-drenching juicy fruit of the saguaro. It already has the distinctive white wing patches that give them their name but like many juveniles has a recently assembled, the glue-hasn’t-finished-drying look to it. I watched one recently that had learned to defend its chosen saguaro, chasing off even adults that ventured too close. This one is from a year ago in a similar part of the preserve, another is feeding in our backyard as I write this.

Morning Dove

The silhouette of a white-winged dove perched atop a fruiting saguaro on the Latigo Trail in the Brown's Ranch section of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in June 2019

White-winged doves have been hiding from me all spring (on the trails, we see them regularly at home) but with the arrival of summer and fruit on the saguaros it seemed as though a white-wing was atop every saguaro each morning this weekend.

Beauty All Around

A cactus wren perches on a saguaro fruit along the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

It has been a sad day but not a day without beauty. In between talking to the vet in the morning and taking Ellie in to be euthanized, I walked into my office and saw Boo and Trixie transfixed in the window. I walked over assuming they were looking at a bird and was delighted to instead see a western whiptail in the bushes next to the window, a favorite lizard on the trails but a new yard species for me. When we got home with heavy hearts after saying goodbye to Ellie, I saw a cactus wren in the backyard, a first for the new house although I had seem them at the rental house and of course on the trails. This one was perching on a saguaro fruit last summer in McDowell Sonoran Preserve.