Fire Skies

There are no words that can describe the breathtaking beauty of late summer sunsets…

Water Works and Sky Lights

A season to feed the soul…

The monsoons finally got whipped up about 2 week ago, bringing with them dramatic displays of nature and a refreshing break from the heat. This promises to be a pretty good season, Todd’s rain gauge has already documented almost 2 inches.

We love this rainy season! Even when all the patio furniture gets water-logged before we can pull it up under the porch. You can’t get enough…The smell of fresh, moist earth after the rain. The cool mist that brings the temps down about 20 degrees…at least for a brief time. The plants getting fat and lush. The toads invading the yard (mmm… ok, it can live with that)… But most of all, we love the monsoon season because it provides a veritable feast of photo ops!

When the storms start brewing, the cloud formations can make you feel like you’re in heaven on earth!

These views never get old!

It’s quite exciting to see the washes running. There are many washes that run through Todd’s Backyard, the largest runs along the back perimeter.

This is what it looks like normally.

But, when we get a good storm it quickly turns into a raging torrent…

After the rain starts pouring, it only takes a few minutes for the water to get to this point. Then as quickly as the wash fills, it empties, when the rain stops.  When we get a ‘hell-bent’ storm, as Todd likes to call them, the first thing we do, is go run out in the rain and watch the wash run!

Ahhh, and the lightning… another spectacular feature of these temporary tempests!

Unfortunately, we don’t have the best camera for capturing nature’s fireworks. But, we did get this shot of the view from the top of Todd’s shed…would have been perfect, if it hadn’t been so blurry…still kind of cool!

And, of course the rainbows are plentiful!

But, we still haven’t found a pot of gold. Still looking though!

We only have about 2 months left of monsoon mania…

Can’t wait to see the mouth-watering visual vittles this season will serve up!

Todd’s Little Helper

We had a surprise visitor with us for a couple of days last week…Todd’s 3 year old niece Ariel! She came down with her dad (Todd’s brother, Spike), who needed to recover in a peaceful place, after having his tonsils out. OUCH! Under the circumstances, it turned out to be a pleasant surprise…. Spike didn’t have much fun, but Ariel did!

She happily followed Todd around helping him, as he did the daily ‘yard chores’….Watering plants, feeding the birds, cleaning the pond, filling the dirtmonkey holes, shooing away the road runners and cow birds, cleaning up dog poop, etc.

Ariel loved every minute! Just like a Disney princess, all the birds and other desert creatures welcomed her into their happy home!

Ariel got to spend a little  time with one of our favorite residents, Jairy….an experience, I’m sure, she will not soon forget!

Todd’s ready to sign her on for permanent yard duty….but he’ll probably have to wait until she’s old enough not to be sleeping on the job!

Pretty in Pink…and Prickles

Jumping Cholla… (pronounced choya) prickly, poisonous, pains in the ass…or a pain anywhere you might come in contact with it! But, somehow, this time of year, you might say they are pretty? Late bloomers in the desert, they produce delicate, bright pink blossoms in the intense heat of June.

The flowers turn into fruits that form chains, thus, this fierce foliage is also known as ‘Chain-fruit’ cholla. The fruit is edible and was harvested, at one time,  by the native tribes who inhabited this area.

The flowers don’t seem like much from a distance, but up close, they are quite beautiful!

Like brilliant little bursts of fuchsia fireworks against a barbed background.

The cholla are intriguing plants that we have an eternal love/hate relationship with. Often, we find baby animals or birds, impaled on it’s deadly branches. There are actually stories of people dying when they have been alone in the desert, impaled, and unable to get off of one. The abundant spines are actually hooked barbs that hold on to anything that carelessly comes close! Even when you’re attached/attacked by a small piece, you have to cut the spines off with scissors, before you pull them out…I guess this releases some pressure and makes them easier to detach. But the affected area will swell and be very painful for a while!

So pics like this, always amaze us!…

The cholla are popular nesting nooks for the local birds- Thrashers and doves especially!  I guess they serve some useful purpose…plus you could eat them…and they can be pretty. So the lesson here?…

Don’t let cholla paranoia destroy ya!

105 at 5…

And our feathered friends are unphased!

Late this afternoon, at 5 o’clock pm, I gathered my camera and a cold beer and ventured out to the porch to see if I could catch any entertaining activity in Todd’s Backyard. Even though it was like sitting in a blast furnace, the desert critters were still out doing their thing! I thought about going back inside to the nice air-conditioned house and watch some news. But, as I watched all my little feathered and furry friends go about their business, I couldn’t help but feel a little in jealous of their tolerance of the intense desert heat!

So I figure, if they can take it, so can I! So, I settled in to watch the late afternoon routine unfold.

Heat or no heat, I always look forward to seeing this little quail family every afternoon. The family consists of 3 babies and a Dad. The mom must have met her end. What’s really special about this group, is one of the babies is crippled…he has a gimpy little leg and hops along after his sibs and dad. The dad always patiently waits for his little hop-along baby. And under Dad’s watchful eye, they make their rounds.

Todd got a new feeder yesterday. A feeder that the big white wing doves can’t get into and eat all of the seed. Tonight smaller birds checked it out and giving it their whole-hearted approval!

This poor quail is still looking for a mate !….Every night, without fail, he finds his post and calls out for his long-lost love. We hear his ka-kaw! ka-kaw until the sun goes down!

Mr. cardinal found a nice shady spot to catch a little dinner.

The finches flocked to their 5 o’clock feast!

And the dove found a nice cool drink!

So, by about 6 o’clock, the thermometer had sunk to 100, I had consumed  a few more cold beers and life was good! And tomorrow, when once again it’s 105 at 5, it will be another amazing day!…Sweet!…..I mean Sweat!

Just the Beginning

As I start my own new phase in life, Todd’s Backyard is lending me great inspiration in it’s incredible re-birth after a long rainy winter! The yard has never ‘lushed’ out  so soon in the season. It usually doesn’t look like this until July…

Now, this may not look like much to some folks, but the blossoming cactus are the star of the show….

And it’s just the beginning!

This is something we haven’t seen…two different colored flowers on the same plant!

The Buckhorn cholla, ready to burst with fiery fusha flowers!

And here it is…

The entire yard is ready to burst with color!  The possibility of  total dazzlement , is due to  all the rain that has  blessed the desert this winter. In the seven years we have lived here, this promises to be the most amazing seasonal event we have ever witnessed!

And this is going to be one of the most spectacular events….hopefully tomorrow night!

Can’t wait for all the incredible ‘blossombilities’!

I will keep you posted!

All Hail the King Quail

Last Sunday we got to witness the spectacular tournament of the local male quail competing for the rights of ‘royalty’. There were about 2o gathered at the base of a mesquite tree. Each would take turns trying to knock off  the quail perched on the highest limb.

Each male quail would take turns. As one got pushed out of the tree, another would  fly up to take his place.

On the ground, the defeated were consoled  by their disappointed mates…

A perfectly princely pose!

And finally the celebratory KA-KAAAAW!…KA- KAAAAW!

All Hail the King Quail

KA- QURADULATIONS!