May 07, 2001

Spring in the desert

This is a time of year when I get restless being cooped up indoors. It's a
pleasure whenever I have to go to one of our other buildings, just to be outside
and stretch my legs, and feel the breeze and smell the fresh-cut grass and the
carefully tended flowers and even the new asphalt. Though very pretty, it's not as
satisfying, in this highly landscaped office park, as being out in the desert and
smelling sage and dust and creosote bushes. Still, it's outside, though in
a more artificial rendition.

It's already too hot for perfection, not
the perfect temperatures we get earlier in the year. That just adds to the rush to
be outside right now, to enjoy the time we have left to be out among the
unstippled blue skies and all the shades of earth before the desert turns into the
kiln that it is in June, our hottest month, and then glowers with the sullen
sweaty heat and spectacular lightning-and-dust storms of July and August that
bring such a brief bit of cooler air.

I read something recently that
described the 'uniform browns' of the Arizona desert. Either the writer had never
been here, or she didn't stay long enough to learn to see the desert. It does take
some acculturation to learn to see the desert properly. The Sonoran is very lush
as deserts go, not with the bright green of Southern swamps or the calmer green of
Northern forests, but with a more subtle mix of shades from true green to olive to

Our landscaping plants, at least in places that don't
have their own full-time gardeners, are different, too. Right now, among the
houses, the jacaranda trees are in full lavender bloom. They're coming to the end
of their short blooming cycle, so now there are contrasting green leaves among the
flowers and the trees look like Mardi Gras beside the yellow blooms of the
paloverdes. (At least I think they're paloverdes.) The saguaro, always last of
the cactus to bloom, all have their buds on top that always make me think of hair
sticking up on a head. I can see three different kinds of flowers from my desk at
work, and there's a bird that occasionally stops on the outside of my windowsill.
I can just barely hear him singing through the window. At home we have mourning
doves, strange gray and pink birds whose babies have miraculously survived their
parents' pitiful attempts at nest-building on our narrow porch beam this year.
They're flying a bit now, so I think they'll make it.

Posted by dichroic at May 7, 2001 04:59 PM
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