Monday, June 27, 2005

Desert dessert

I went early to the University library today to work on my portfolio. It's nice and quiet, but way too cold due to the contrast between outside heat, inside cool, and me in my shorts, sandals, and tshirt. Tomorrow i will bring a long sleeve shirt or an old sarong for warmth. Every 45 minutes or so I had to go out into the heat to warm up. The library has an adjoining outside café, so i ate my snack of pb&j sandwiches, an orange, and water at the outdoor tables in the shade.

One striking feature in Southern AZ (especially during the summer months) is that most everyone carries around water bottles wherever they go (or their cold liquid of choice from super large icy cups). I don't drink iced drinks very often; it feels too cold in my throat. However, my hydration strategy is to nightly freeze about half the water in my water bottle then top it off with room temperature water in the morning before i get on my bike. After ten minutes or so of riding in the sun, my water is the perfect temperature (for me). Another Southern AZ feature is all the hats. Most everyone wears a hat in the summer--all kinds of wide brimmed straw hats, cowboy hats, baseball caps, and canvas hiking hats. And, of course, most people wear shorts and sandals (or light weight pants/dresses/skirts) from April through October. It's just too hot to wear anything else. And, only a sheet to bed.

Tonight on our evening walk, Yuki & I saw a quail family scurrying through a neighbor's yard, then two white tailed bunnies who froze when they saw the larger white furry thing that Yuki is. We crossed paths with two horses in the nature park by the rillito, an appaloosa and a pinto. They had riders atop them--perhaps the riders had markings, too--what would we say? a freckled and a splotched?

The sunset was yellow then deep orange. The peacocks were screeching on the ranch nearby, along with the whirring buzz of the cicadas and the low, percussive cooing of the mourning doves. My vibram-soled sandals sunk softly into the silt. Near where the datura will bloom after the monsoons, an owl flew over us silently, from the old burnt tree, to the tall stand of eucalyptus; bats somersaulted and did flips as the sky turned to dusk.

The mesquite beans taste astringent still, but are gradually turning yellow. They'll sweeten as they get drier and turn yellow. I'll chew one as I walk, spitting out the tangy seeds as mountain shadows blend with sky. Then maybe, like tonight, we'll pause infront of the desert willow tree to enjoy delicate blossoms of lavender-pink-and-white.

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