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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Is the Desert Ever Green?

In springtime, though things are growing and blossoming with mad abandon in other parts of the country, the high desert of Southeast Arizona is still dry and brown, especially when very little rain has fallen in winter and early spring. The tall desert grasses of last summer are dry and crackling, and the dry mounds of tumbleweed that blew across the desert during the winter are impossible to navigate through. All in all, besides being a massive fire danger, the view is brown and drab and inhospitable.

But lo and behold, like a line drawn across the valley floor, a narrow ribbon lies.

Could that green line possibly be trees? Real, actual trees? As one hikes closer to that tantalizing line, yes, indeed, one finds the tall, massive cottonwood trees. And since the cottonwoods will only grow where there is water, we only need to look, and we find the waters of the San Pedro river, the only river left in Arizona that has been allowed to run freely on its original course, without any alteration by man.

The river and its quietly flowing water are the lifeblood of the desert. As we walk beneath the shade-giving cottonwoods, frogs leap into the depths at our approach. Many varieties of birds, not found elsewhere in the desert, chirp and sing as they flit from branch to branch or else stand at the river's edge searching for seeds or perhaps insects. They hardly move at our approach, so fearless they are.

In the course of our hike we cross the river several times. Sometimes there are logs to cross over on; sometimes our feet get wet in the cool stream. Minnows and water grasses wave in the current. There are few insects to bother us this early in the season, but lizards skittle through last fall's dry leaves. It is still, it is quiet. Few noises other than the birds and the wind in the branches can be heard. Above all, it is GREEN.

Welcome to Project Spectrum for May. Green...even in the desert.


Blogger Ann said...

What a beautiful post Pat. And a lovely spot in the desert.

4:33 AM  
Anonymous Dipsy said...

Thank you so much for sharing these amazing photos and the highly interesting post! For me, having lived right in the middle of the Alps all my life, the desert is something so stunningly beautiful, and it was so great to see these gorgeous green places you found there!

10:45 AM  
Blogger margene said...

Many people do not realize how colorful the desert is (and alive!). We certainly had the same idea for May! ;-)

1:07 PM  
Anonymous martina said...

Wow...great pictures! The area looks so wild and free.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...


I am usually so jealous of your warm weather, but Chicago spring is beautiful this year. Thanks for the pictorial. I loved it all. Good Lace Race. I'm rooting for the hippies in the current Amazing Race.

7:41 PM  

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