Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Early Morning in a Desert Neighborhood

This time of year I like to walk in my neighborhood when it’s light enough to see, but before the sun comes up, which at present is around 5 AM. It’s lovely out that time of day—no people, no dogs, no cars, just early-morning birds and me. In a very few weeks that will change—it will be hot, humid, and buggy—but right now, in the early days of summer heat, it is perfect.

Early AM 6-3-2013 5-35-54 AM 3264x2448Walking north toward the Catalinas

Our neighborhood dates to the 1950’s and 60’s, with relatively few houses and many mature cactus and trees. Nearly all yards are natural desert (the one grassy lawn with sculptured shrubbery looks as out of place as a saguaro would look in a cherry tree festival). Most of the more recent neighborhoods don’t even have what I would call yards—just scores of look-alike beige boxes jammed together with little space between one house and another. 

Our front yard 6-4-2013 5-39-21 AM 3264x1955Our front yard.

Here in the desert, you never know what you might see on a morning walk. I have encountered javelina families, bobcats, and quite often coyotes. I turn around when I see javelina, because they are unpredictable and can be dangerous. Bobcats always disappear as soon as they are seen. Coyotes and I simply ignore each other, though I can’t help admiring their beauty from a distance.

Our neighborhood is in the foothills of the majestic Catalina mountains, on the north side of the city. As I complete my walking loop and start  back home I can watch the sunlight spotlighting the tops of the Tucson Mountains to the west…

Kiss of sun 6-3-2013 5-45-47 AM 3264x2448The sun kisses Stetson Peak to the west

…then moving quickly down their flanks and spilling into the valley.

Stetson peak 6-3-2013 5-46-04 AM 3264x2448

The Santa Rita mountains to the south, and the whole south end of the city are already in daylight.

Tucson Mtns early sun 6-3-2013 5-48-42 AM 3264x2448West, from the mailbox in front of our house.

Up here, in the peace and beauty of the desert, it remains darkish and coolish just a little bit longer.


  1. Anonymous6:39 AM

    Thanks, I enjoyed the walk. I agree the mornings at sunrise are perfect right now.

  2. Beautiful. I loved reading about your encounters with wildlife. I did not realize peccaries (javelina) ranged into North America. How cool! There are bobcats in Ontario's cottage country but I have never even come close to seeing one. We do have coyotes around home. When I have my office window open in the evening I will usually hear them yipping in conservation area behind our house.

    1. I always feel so privileged when I get to see a bobcat. It is thrilling to know that they live among us and are probably around, unseen, every day. I know that is true of the coyotes. I always try to remember that this is THEIR land.

  3. Just lovely. I've never seen the front of your house, but it's just as I imagined it.

    1. Thanks. I never imagined I would live in what I think of as a "real" house like this one.