Wednesday, April 23, 2014

You Know When You Are in Tucson…

    Some years ago I attended the University of Arizona in Tucson and returned once for a conference.  We did a silly skit about “You Know When You Are in Tucson...”  (My part in the skit was to hide peppers in my shirt after being served them for yet another meal.  "You know you are in Tucson when you are served peppers at every meal, until you can eat them no more...")

    North of Tucson near Oracle Junction, I passed by cacti and palo verde trees on a hot day with the air conditioner on the fritz. I was delighted to find a haven at a RV camp.  I rarely have stayed in RV parks and in fact the first one that I stopped at turned me away.  Rancho Villa was a gem.  I was tired when I arrived and sat for a while on the community house porch reading newspapers.  An annual visitor to the park, Sherri, spotted me and invited me to join her and her husband for a dinner of spaghetti.  We sat and talked into the cool of the evening, and the next day went swimming and took a stroll in the neighborhood.  I so appreciated the welcome.  Talking to Sherri it was easy to understand the appeal of a winter haven.   
Christmas Photo of Sherri and Don
     Winter visitors to the south find much to do in the Tucson-Oracle Junction area.  Don heads out most days to go jeeping.  Sherri reads, takes care of her many dogs, gardens their plot, cooks and rides her bike.  Their yard is filled with interesting “finds” of cholla cactus branches, bones and nests from saguaro cactus.   They both seem so happy.

      Sherri took me to gardens being designed by the St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery  You do know you are near Tucson in the spring when all the plants do their best to push out blooms after a good rain and the arrival of hotter temperatures.  This picture is of a new garden! 

      I headed out to Tucson to visit my college roommate, an artist who remained in Tucson after school.  Her stucco house with its walled garden and patio enchanted pup.  Lizzie had not ever seen lizards before, but she began sitting outside for hours watching the walls for lizards and noting birds. 

    Tucson is world renowned for it’s birding sites.  Eleanor took me to Madeira Canyon.  We arrived a little late in the day for the best birding time, but spotted numerous serious birders hauling scopes, water, packs and walking sticks.  The canyon has over 275 possible birds on its list.  Eleanor and I paused to take photos of trees and she drew one extraordinary tree trunk.  These are all photos taken by Eleanor.   

    I love this valley surrounded by familiar mountain shapes.  The colors are different.  Many warm oranges and turquoise.

Eleanor's art on her kitchen turquoise walls. 
    Eleanor lives in the Fort Lowell neighborhood with structures built a couple of hundred years ago.  I have always admired the pueblo design with interior courtyards to make the most of light.

View from my room.
      I love being back in Tucson.  Even with the enormous population boost, there are pockets of quiet.  I know that I am in Tucson when I am smiling.

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