From Death to Drenched

The Southern Arizona Summer engulfed us last June, like like the fiery blazes of hell! 120 degrees for days…100+ for a month. The only thing that kept us sane was looking forward to the cooling rains of the Monsoons, officially declared to start on June 15th. Sometimes- I think last year, in fact- they started early. We were hoping the same this year, we desperately needed the rains…the desert was dying!

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By the end of June we still had no rain. Not even a hint. The heat was depressingly oppressive!  You know its bad when the drought tolerant/heat tolerant cactus start to shrivel up and die…

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We thought this poor agave was a goner!

June dropped off the calendar-still with no rain.We started feeling like the cactus!

But, the 4th of July would be here soon, and we ALWAYS get rain on the 4th!! However, independence day came and went with only the booming of fireworks- not the booming of thunder we had counted on. Aaauuuuughhhhh the agony!

Todd even went to the extremes of putting sprinklers in the yard on some of our cactus to try to salvage some of  them! Something he had never had to do before. We noticed some of our neighbors were doing the same.

It wasn’t until about a week after the 4th, that Monsoon finally arrived! As we watched the lighting streaked clouds come rumbling in, Todd stationed himself on top of the shed to act as a human lightning rod….

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Here’s a little taste of the desert monsoon….

An no…Todd was not still sitting on the roof as I shot this!

I wish I could share the smell the rain drenched desert and feel the cool mist floating in the air. A mist that’s created as the rain dances on the parched desert ground. There is nothing like it! The temperature generally drops from 100+ to about 75 in a matter of minutes! The relief is almost euphoric!

Since then, over the past month, it has rained, and rained- one of the best Monsoon seasons we have had in years! Todd has marked over 7 inches of rain so far! Most of the plants that melted with the heat, rebounded!

Here’s the heat ravaged agave- unbelievable that it came back to life!….

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Now as Fall approaches, we can enjoy the beautiful desert, revived, refreshed and blooming! We celebrate nature’s gift, even though the ‘dry heat’ has turned muggy and mosquitoes  abound- we raise our glasses to Mother Nature with a toast: “Even though you can be a ‘bitch in heat’ or a frozen mother ‘f’er, when you pour…girl, you Reign!”

 

 

Yellow…But not Mellow

Everywhere you look, you will see pops of bright yellow frantically bouncing around the yard. The Orioles are back in full force this Spring! We get several different Oriole varieties in Todd’s Backyard. All slightly different, however they share the same shrill chatter, as shocking as their brilliant hue!

Their chatter reaches all time highs when they are playing their high-stakes game, we like to call, Who-Can-Get-The ‘Oriole Glory Hole’!

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In this game, there are 2 prizes!

1st, their ‘watering hole’. They constantly fight over position on the hummingbird feeders to quench their appetite for their favorite sugary treat! Not only are they competing amongst themselves (or similar versions of themselves), but they have to fend off the ferocious little hummers!

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And the 2nd prize….or maybe this is the 1st prize…

oriole2The female  ‘Glory Hole’ if you will….eeehhhhem.

Anyway, the Oriole fun and games, be it a bit noisy, are always fun to watch! You can’t help but be a little excited when these spectacular specimens of  fine feathered fellows come back to Todd’s Backyard every spring.

Here they will stay until fall in all their ‘Glory’!

oriole6This is a Scotts Oriole.

And below is a Bullocks Oriole.

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orioleThe Hooded Oriole

Oriole, Oriole, sprightly fellow. Flitter about all brightly yellow. Have your fun, but don’t harsh my mellow!!!

Gotta Keep Believing!

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Change….Evolution…Everything begins and comes to an end….And then it begins again, sometimes when we least expect it! Life’s cycles should be expected, but are usually unpredictable. Like life in the desert. The seasons come and go, bringing with them lovely mild moments and breathtaking sunsets to the searing heat and ferociously destructive bursts of the Summer monsoons! Always changing and adapting, but forever surviving!

There is something comforting in that. I believe that there is always a purpose and a reason for everything! We have recently been faced with  a major life change forcing us to make profound adjustments. The stress is overwhelming. We may be faced with the decision to sell our home and leave Todd’s Backyard to someone else’s loving care. But, even if that happens, there will always be a ‘Todd’s Backyard’…somewhere. We will always find beautiful and fascinating material to keep this blog alive wherever we end up.

But, I do believe God gives us signs and direction if you pay attention. And, I am paying attention!  I am going to follow the path he has chosen, but it’s not going to be easy! Giving thanks with a joyful heart to the opportunities we are given will be the key!  So, with my trust in God,  I will  face the future with bright optimism and peace.

And for anyone else going through ‘prickly times’ I found these 5 mantras for surviving them:

  1. All situations are temporary- everything is always in transition!
  2. There is no wrong decision- what is meant to be will be.
  3. You have survived difficult times before- Think about how you got through them.
  4. Be still and know- Be in the now- don’t worry about the future, concentrate on the present. Take one step at a time!
  5. Trust the guidance of the universe- Choose to believe where you are is OK!

Everythingz Fuzzy!

Warning:  If you suffer from Spring Allergies, just looking at these photos might bring tears to your eyes! 

Though beauty abounds in the  Desert Spring, we sometimes endure it with a little sting. When the temperature rises and starts to prickle, our noses start running and twinge with a tickle. Budding plants, ready to burst with a buzz, are covered with soft and treacherous fuzz!

100_6717Treesy Sneezy!! The acacia is the worst! However, it smells delightful, such a terrible curse!

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The creosote bush has small balls (and a bunch!) They might lack in size, but pack a mighty pollen punch!

AAAAAAACHOOOOO!

But, some budding beasts will compensate our misery with a spectacular show of nature’s wizardry!

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These small sleeping gremlins perched atop the Argentinian Giant, shed their furry coats as they wake up and burst into a floral triumph!

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The furry buds below look  much the same…

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Until they burst out into their splendorous brilliant flame!

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Itchy eyes, runny nose, sinus headache, God only knows! Although we suffer through the season, there’s always a rhyme to the reason!  🙂

Where ever you are, what ever you do, ride out the Spring…God Bless and aaaaa…. aaaaaa….AAAAACHHHOOOooo!

 

 

 

 

Wood You Be Mine?….Or not…

It IS that time of year….a frantic buzz of excitement- the chirps , squawks and squeaks- the birds and the bees are stirring!  Spring mating time is noisy! One of the more raucous merry makers, are the quail. Their distinct “cacaaawww…cacaaaaaaawwwww!” is heard frequently. They have a funny little ritual of climbing trees to call out their potential tweet-hearts! Let’s say, they get high on love 😉

Late afternoon is when they particularly like to ‘get high’. It was at that time, last week, when we witnessed  a would be wooer going wacky!

Todd had installed an ironwood quail carving on the branch of one of our mesquite trees a while ago. I never noticed that it had ever drawn any attention from the local bird population. That is, until a lovelorn quail discovered it and was apparently enraptured.

He climbed to the limb above, that had been conveniently cut into the perfect perch. There, he would try to get his wooden maiden to notice him….When she ‘wooden’t’, he jumped down and climbed back up again….and again….and again…putting his male to the quail…to no avail.

The poor guy was so distraught that Todd had to take down the tree trapped temptress.  I had to set this sad love story to little music…..

And with that, my friends, we raise our glasses to this lonely quail’s attempt at romance- certainly a great ‘CaCaaaaaws’!

Meet the Varmints- Episode 1- Rocky

Todd’s Backyard is filled with an assortment of furry little creatures….Varmints, if you will. In fact, we seem to have created a varmint paradise. Supplying a plentiful bounty for our birds, of course invites these little bastards. But, they keep the hawks, snakes, bobcats and coyotes fat and happy around here! You could call it Todd’s  Backyard Wildlife Diner!

Now, ‘Diner’ really fits since we got our new little Bird Photo Booth (www.birdphotobooth.com)- a feeder that is attached to a motion activated camera! We decided to introduce the contraption to the ground dwellers, as they might provide some entertainment before the jaws of nature snap them up.

The first varmint that decided to check it out was our resident rock squirrel, as we so dubbed him Rocky. Not totally original, but fitting….

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He figured out quite quickly, this was pretty cool…

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As did a few others.

Rocky got a nice dinner and gave us some great mug shots…

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

 

And that, my friends is Rocky!

 

Birds Birds Birds!

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

 

Welcome to the Bird Photo Booth! We treated ourselves to this little contraption in order to really get up close and personal with our feathered residents!  We hope you will enjoy these shots as much as we do! Hopefully this will nudge me in the write direction 😉

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv