Another horizontal saguaro arm in the rain but this one is thriving, it just grew out rather than up. At the tip you can see where new spines will very, very slowly emerge, protected at the base by soft white material (which is what this cactus wren was gleefully ripping out for its nest).
On a rainy Christmas morning I smiled as water pooled between the pleats of a saguaro, mimicking on the outside how I imagined as a child the water was stored on the inside. But it was a sad occasion too as the normally vertical arm was now horizontal, the old giant having fallen over and died, the green and the chlorophyll fading. They may grow slowly but they fall just as quickly as everything else, a gentle reminder that in this life even the mightiest are eventually humbled. On a brighter note it did make me laugh as I was shooting with a new lens and it always seems I test out new gear in the rain. Not a deliberate choice, rather that I love the rain and used to live in a place with an abundance of it. In this case it was a combination of me taking advantage of holiday sales to purchase a newly announced lens that instantly became a workhorse, timed up with some time off and some winter rains.
Water drops collect on the horizontal spines of a teddy bear cholla. It’s rained off and on the past couple of weeks but sadly it’s been off on the days I have been too. On Christmas morning however I woke to the sound of raindrops on the rooftops so I grabbed my rain gear and a new lens and spent a lovely morning in the desert.
On that April morning we were up before the sun, he and I, one to mend a broken heart, one to feed his hungry children. Ordinarily I would have loved to watch the comings and goings of this Gila woodpecker and his mate as morning broke but Ellie had died a week earlier and standing still meant being alone with my thoughts, a place I was not yet ready to be. I quickly moved on but with each passing week I was able to slow down more and more until I could happily stay in the moment for as long as my heart desired.
One more bobcat photo, this is the first one I took of my second ever sighting. Though most of the sky was blue, there were low lying clouds in the east that were frequently changing the light. This morning it worked in my favor as clouds partially obscured the sun as I walked back to check out what initially looked like a coyote-shaped cactus. The clouds not only softened the light but made it more diffuse so that the left side of the cat’s face isn’t in such deep shadow. If I could only choose one I’d prefer the shot where it is peering over the rocks but I also like how here the bobcat’s lovely face is fully shown while it verified I wasn’t a threat before settling in for a nap.
If my former home in the the Pacific Northwest was a paradise of blue and green I could describe my current home in the Sonoran Desert as a paradise of blue and brown, but that would not quite be true. There is far more green in this desert than I was expecting, a dusty green to match the dusty landscape and not the lush blinding greens of the Columbia River Gorge, but green just the same. But it is true enough for this scene, the brown cat in the brown hills, the blue sky behind. There were three pictures I wanted to take on that summer morning, a close shot of the bobcat, this more distant environmental portrait, and an even wider shot showing the rocks down to the desert floor. The latter I didn’t take as since I’m only shooting with one camera I didn’t want to risk taking off the telephoto zoom in case the cat walked up onto the top of the rocks. Instead it settled down for a nap on the ledge in the middle of the frame, out of sight of both me and the rising sun.
There are moments on the trails you never forget. In the Tetons, when a black bear casually sauntered down the trail towards me. A gorgeous black bear I had to slowly follow up the path at Mount Rainier. A scrum of bighorn sheep rams in Yellowstone. My first Gila monster. My first bobcat, and my second.
I woke up far too early Monday morning and couldn’t get back to sleep so I went out for a short hike at a nearby trailhead. I was nearing the end of the Jane Rau Trail, hoping to see a spiny lizard I had spotted on a previous hike. My eye caught a pair of ears high in the rocks, or so it seemed at first glance, a cactus with the face of a coyote. The lizard wasn’t there but thankfully I had time to walk back to get a better look at the cactus as I couldn’t remember seeing it before. Looking through the telephoto lens I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw eyes looking back at me, the ears were indeed ears, pointed towards the heavens. My second ever bobcat. As the rising sun grew stronger the sleepy cat dropped into the shadows and settled down, time for us to part, time to get ready for work.
Even after a couple of decades of photography I can get a little too excited and not set up the camera or the shot properly. I didn’t realize it at the time but all those years she was training me for this moment, my sweet Em, to photograph beauty looking down upon me. Relax, breathe, enjoy the moment. Miss you Em.
Water seemed suspended in time as it dripped from the flower buds at the end of a horizontal arm of a saguaro, but I suspect the frozen drips must have been sap. I didn’t know saguaros budded like this when we moved here so I was delighted to discover buds fairly close to the ground that I could observe up close.