Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Flying Fauna

(This post should be less difficult for those of you with phobic reactions to slithery beings.)

Our known-them-forever-friends came down from Phoenix last weekend. It always seems strange to say "down from" when referring to that trip; Tucson is 1000' higher in elevation than our low desert neighbor and, even though we are further south, saying "driving down to Tucson" just doesn't seem right to me. Even the highway has issues with the notion of direction; it's I-10 East that takes you here (and on to El Paso and Biloxi and Jacksonville).

In any event, they arrived on Friday, and, after cracking open the champagne and snacking on treats from Costco (shrimp and cheese and tri-tip and mini-peppers and a yummy multi-grain loaf of just baked bread) we drove to The Rialto to see Pink Martini and marvel at the ease that is seeing music in Tucson. Park on the street. Stroll to the theatre. Feel comfortable in shorts and t-shirts surrounded by an eclectic mix of denizens of the desert hooting and hollering as Thomas Lauderdale and China Forbes and 10 other talented musicians strutted their stuff. Je ne veux pas travailler, either.

The next day I spoke about planting trees at TRICO and came home to another annoying visit from the pool people who were repairing the mistakes the prior technician had made. (As Travis Magee often said of his boat, our pool is a hole in the ground into which you pour money.) We dined on multi-grain french toast and bacon and read Tucson Weekly's Best of Tucson edition and then it was 2 o'clock and time to be tourists.

Sending TBG back to the gym for double sessions, we 3 headed off to Saguaro National Park and the Desert Museum. It's a great drive in The Schnozz, though I fear that my passengers were less enthusiastic about its ability to corner quickly and smoothly than I was. The rest of southern Arizona had apparently gotten the memo that the roads were to be mine, and we passed nary a car nor a motorcycle nor a bicycle on the twisty well-paved road to the park's Visitor's Center.

After extricating one guest from the back seat, we watched the movie (do not miss the movie --- and be sure to stay seated until the lights come up --- NO, I will not tell you why..... just believe me when I say it'll be one of your all-time favorite movie going experiences) and exited to find that it was National Parks Day all over America, in tribute to the new Ken Burns extravaganza. A new holiday in the middle of "the Jewish holidays"; I loved it.

Piled her back into The Schnozz and followed Sandrio Road a few miles further and found the subtly signed Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. I bought the membership and in we went, following the path toward the hummingbirds. Aubrey explained the subluxation and stretching of the tectonic plates that resulted in the bowl housing Tucson, and he did so in an unapologetically upper crust British accent. We spent a lot of time looking at the world map covering one wall of the ramada, thinking about the places from which the refugees the front-seat guest resettles had fled. Burma, Kenya, Tajikistan.... these places are really far from Arizona.

The path takes you through tunnels and past pumas and parrots and snack shops and a covered overlook that reminded me of the Carribbean

The signs still pointed us towards the hummingbirds, and so onward we trekked. Seeing the waiters carrying the tablecloths out of the restaurant reminded us that the museum was closing and we ought to walk faster and then suddenly there was the hummingbird house. We pushed apart the heavy plastic vertical blinds and it was quiet and planted and we were happy.

At first, we didn't see any birds. Then we looked closer.

These little birds are really good at camouflage.

Sometimes they are betrayed by a bright red dot on their necks.


Sometimes they just rest, with their wings almost crossed in front of themselves.

And sometimes they find a delicious salvia and slake their thirst


We drove home happy.

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