Years ago, after graduating from college, I did field work for an Ecology grad student. For about $5/hour I sat in a field of milkweed, while bees and wasps whizzed past my ears and counted the number of bees and other insects visiting, perhaps pollinating the flowers. I sat very still.
Reflecting back, the time spent at Canelo Hills seems almost meditative. I hadn’t liked the grad student. Prior to my graduating he’d refused a paper I tried to turn in two hours late for a class he was TAing, and I’d ending up earning the worse grade of my college career in that class. I went back and retook the course and did markedly better. He was right, of course, to refuse it, but it didn’t stop me turning in late papers. However, down at Canelo Hills, and in the car trip down there from Tucson, I thought much better of him, plus the opportunity to do a little field work and free lunches was too good to miss.
This weekend in the backyard before the rain
I hadn’t thought too much about that time for several years now and then this weekend I buried my nose into almond blossoms in the backyard and the buzzing came back to me. I rather miss that time of my life, or rather I wish I was doing something like that regularly. Subsequent to the bee buzzing pollination exercise, I spent more time working for The Nature Conservancy as an intern and went back to Canelo in search of Ladies Tresses, a sweet rare white orchid that sometimes grows in wetlands like Canelo.
I know, wetlands in southern Arizona. Wild, huh?! Despite the relatively wet winter we’ve had, the wetlands and riparian areas of Arizona are threatened by a whole host of issues and so desperately need protecting. The San Pedro Riparian area is a major corridor for a large proportion of migratory birds into the US and Canada so it affects most people who stumble upon this blog. That is the thing about Arizona, it is so diverse and Arizona’s diversity is basically the point of this post.
I started writing a blog just over a year ago to share with friends and family our experience living in Florence, Italy. We lived there for six months and then when we returned to Tucson, some people encouraged me to carrying on blogging. I must admit, it has felt pretty narcissistic and it probably is, but then this weekend shoving my nose into sweet-smelling almond blossoms and remembering Canelo Hills, I figured it doesn’t all have to be about me, or even my very fabulous family, I can share a few of the treasures, the diversity of Tucson and Southern Arizona like I did about Florence. Southern Arizona and Tucson both have some pleasant surprises and can seem quite exotic to those from elsewhere. So now and then I’ll share something about Tucson or Southern Arizona that I think is pretty spiffy. It could be a place, an event, a person, you get the idea.
Canelo Hills and the Nature Conservancy preserves of Muleshoe, Aravaipa, Ramsey Canyon and Patagonia-Sonita Creek are sweet riparian blessings in the desert as far as I’m concerned and definitely worth a visit if you make it down to this part of the world. I need to share these places with both Bean and Green, but in between I figure we’ll go stick our noses in an exotic, but sweet smelling almond blossom instead and just imagine.
ps. I think bee keeping will be the new chickens. It probably is already, but I’m not very with it.