I have an old bench that sits by the window outside on my covered patio and I like to sit there in the evenings and watch all the critters getting their last meals of the day. Last evening I was sitting there, enjoying my glass of wine, and listening to the howling wind as my trees danced about and birds tried to hang onto the branches as they chirped away noisily.
My bench is out of the wind so it’s always a good spot to settle to watch all the nature in the desert. Sometimes it amazes me at all the life that can live in such conditions. We get extremes here – hot and cold – and lots of gusty winds, but what else is supposed to carve the beautiful red rocks and cliffs into the intriguing shapes that only your mind can imagine is animals or old Indian tribes standing side by side.
I am constantly in awe as I drive back from the grocery store surrounded by the panorama of colorful mountains that always take my breath away. I’ve wanted to capture their beauty with my camera, but so far I haven’t had any luck stitching all the pics together to make one glorious expanse, which is the actual view you have in person.
Just before sunset is a wonderful time to sit back there on the patio because the major heat of the day has died away and, as I mentioned, the animals and birds come for their last morsels of the day. The quail pairs will bring their babies who dutifully follow the parents about and are so well behaved I’m always amazed. Usually the mom or dad will pace back and forth and keep a lookout over the offspring while they eat.
Along with this, there will be various rabbits, doves, pigeons, squirrels, assorted little birds (finches and sparrows among them), hummingbirds and orioles, lizards and chipmunks, not to mention the jack rabbits that hang out in the desert and rarely come in the yard and all the ravens and birds of prey that skim the ridge. Occasionally, the roadrunners will come by as well and every night in the summers the desert toads use the water bowl as their own private swimming pool.
It is something to see all these critters eating side by side and peacefully, except for the occasional squabble that breaks out now and then as everyone is very protective of their young ones. Of course the roadrunners and birds of prey are not included in this group. The wildlife run from them as life in the desert can be cruel and critters are lost everyday to feed these birds.
As I mentioned, the desert is a harsh but beautiful place to live and I’m lucky in that my house is situated where the whole desert is my back yard, which must seem like an oasis to all the wildlife because it is situated on two levels with the top one next to the house containing a small expanse of grass and shade trees and the bottom level left in natural landscaping and separated from the top by a three foot high natural rock wall in which the chipmunks have decided to call home, making burrows all through that area. I don’t know if any of you have ever seen any of these little creatures, which are actually antelope squirrels, but we call chipmunks. These little guys are very cute as you can see by the picture below, but they are very mischievous and never stop moving. I have no idea where they get all their energy from, but I know they must be plain worn out at the end of the day.
There are literally dozens of them living in our rock wall and hundreds more in the desert beyond that make their presence every day. Of course we feed them peanuts and they eat the bird seed and about anything else they can get their little paws on. Forget about trying to grow anything around here, because they aren’t too particular and, always being on the hunt for food, nothing is safe. They will eat most of your flowers and your veggies too. As you can see, we no longer grow tomatoes and this is why:
Nothing seems to be safe around them even if you enclose it in wire cages. They are very smart and will figure out a way to get in, even if it takes them all day. They even send the babies in, if the adults are too big, and the babies are instructed to bring the food out, one way or another, to the waiting parents.
They are only trying to survive in this environment and we are always sad when a bird of prey catches one for their dinner. I guess we shouldn’t make our yard such an inviting place.
If it is windy, the ravens love to play and show off their flying skills as they dip and soar on the currents, usually flying in pairs. They are something to watch and can bring a smile to your face with all their antics, but birds do bring omens so you have to beware when they gather on the bluff in large groups as if having a community meeting. Did you know that ravens are not bothered by any weather conditions and they are the smartest of all birds?
Sitting outside is a great way to end the day with nature’s noises and very inspiring before it is back to the computer for more writing. “Cooo, cooo, cooo” go the doves while the chipmunks make a rattling noise as they call together their families, but the quail noises are almost mournful and sad, sounding much like the doves “he-heeee-hee,” but in a different pitch, and a noise I really associate with the loneliness of the desert as twilight settles around us. Perhaps they are just thankful they have survived another day in this world. These sounds of nature at dusk always bring to mind the song by Crystal Gayle that I can hear in my head. I put a link here if anyone wants to listen.