In Arizona, it lasts from late fall through midsummer pretty much. Summer contains the wonderful, fickle, thunder-filled Monsoon. But the rest of the year is pretty dry. Now, in mid to late April, we’re warming up nicely. Soon it will be time for me to be careful when touching the steering wheel of my car. I’ve gotten blisters before. Right now my swamp cooler, an evaporative device, is working very well. It’s a cheap form of air conditioning – a fan blows air through something like a damp sponge to cool the air down. So it won’t work in high humidity. Right now if we run the thing full blast we can get the house down to sixty degrees or so.
In Tucson, keeping cool is an art form. Sure, you could sit in a modern home and turn on the air conditioning. Yet, it’s much more fun to find a shady spot, perhaps in a wonderful old adobe building, with open archways to let in the breezes, and sip some cold agua fresca or maybe some real Mexican Coke in the glass bottle. Yes, it is better. Maybe a bowl of ceviche when you get hungry. Now, that’s staying cool in style. My own place is flat roofed, with heat-shedding cinderblock walls and cool tile floors. You can open the front and back doors, shut the screens, and let the breezes flow through. Keep the blinds drawn in the daytime, open them at night, and you’ve got a house that stays at a livable temperature on all but the hottest days.
Sometimes, though, I don’t hide from the heat. I get a cool beverage and sit out and bake. Even for just a few minutes, on a work break. Heat like this is a touchable thing, it’s like being hugged by the day. It eases my A/C chilled bones and reminds me I’m alive.
Our site mascot, Nezumi, makes a good security guard. She watches out the front blinds to make sure I get home safe, she puts us to bed when it’s time, and she does a great job of monitoring the neighborhood. No bug or lizard is safe from her – if she can’t catch it herself, she’ll tell us it’s there. Here she is with one of of our katanas.
A great thing to have in Arizona is something called a security screen. She loves to sit at them and we have one at the front and the back of the house. It’s a heavy duty screen door with bars to prevent burglary. They’re sturdy and I really like having them on my home. They also make great lizard and bird watching stations. Sometimes baby lizards crawl up ours. Here’s one, looking out toward our tall back fence:
Finally, here’s one of the things Nezumi doesn’t want coming inside. Then again, she might really like it to come inside, but it wouldn’t want to once she found it!
Some of these photos have been featured in other posts of mine, but they all have dense visual texture. I find that Arizona offers a lot of opportunities for this, whether in the rugged bark of an old olive tree, the close set spines of a barrel cactus, or even in the pinkish, multicolored gravel that seems to be everywhere.
In my backyard, there is an olive tree. Half dead, the live portion is supported by the barkless portion and enjoys luxuriant growth. In the base there are holes where lizards live. It looks like such an interesting place to explore if I were tiny.
The rock lizards live here, and breed, and come out to eat bugs and do pushups in silly looking displays of dominance. If I could be tiny, it would be an amazing place to explore. I’d need ropes and a helmet for these fascinating caves, though.
Yet, were I tiny, I’d also have to be careful. Those lizards would be strong, like dragons of yore…
After all, what if I encountered something like this when I was only three inches tall?
Some quail visited my parking lot yesterday, drawn by gray weather and plenty of things to eat. They were temporarily driven off by a local hawk who cruised by, but soon returned. The last photo was posted yesterday in “City Wildlife.”