Soft and Sharp

A white-winged dove pauses as it feeds on the fruits of a saguaro in the soft early light of a summer morning along the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The sun was up and shining on the tops of the saguaros but when this white-winged dove dropped down to feed on the fruit on a lower arm I was able to photograph it in the soft reflected light. The full sun arrived seconds later. Taken on July 4th while the saguaro were fruiting and the white-wings still flew above the desert.

Look How Far the Light Came

A white-winged dove straddles two pieces of fruit on a saguaro cactus on the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

Look how far the light came
To paint you
This way
Bruce Cockburn “Look How Far”

It was 5:30 a.m. on July 4th as I walked along the Latigo Trail, most of the desert still in darkness. I stopped when the rising sun fell upon this tall saguaro and the white-winged dove feeding on its fruit. Minutes later the clouds in the east obscured the sun and its rays no longer fell upon the clouds in the west nor the cactus before me, save for the tip top where the dove stood. A moment later all was in shadow. I was struck by how much had to occur for me to be standing there, to catch the light that traveled many millions of miles in mere minutes, to behold its beauty and bear witness to its passing.

Red, White, and Blue

A white-winged dove, its face covered in the red juice of saguaro fruit, perches atop a saguaro illuminated by the rising sun by the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve

I spent the morning of the 4th of July amidst a double splendor of red, white, and blue. The rays of the rising sun illuminated the top of the cactus amidst blue skies, white clouds, and the ripened red fruit of the saguaro. Eating that fruit was a white-winged dove, with the white wing patches for which it is named, a blue eye ring, and red eyes. And on this morning, as with all the other doves since the fruit ripened, a face covered with the red juice and pulp of the saguaro’s fruit, as they stick their entire heads in to get every last bit of this short-lived bounty of food.