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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Southern Arizona Travelogue

Ramsey Canyon Preserve

Tuesday we made the most wonderful visit to The Nature Conservancy’s Ramsey Canyon Preserve! From the pamphlet I picked up, here’s a description of the incredibility of the exceptionally diverse environment:
Ramsey Canyon, located within the Upper San Pedro River Basin – one of the Last Great Places! – in southeastern Arizona, is renowned for its outstanding scenic beauty and the diversity of its plant and animal life. This diversity—including such highlights as 15 species of hummingbirds—is the result of a unique interplay of geology, biogeography, topography, and climate.

Southeastern Arizona is an ecological crossroads, where habitats and species from the Sierra Madre of Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, and the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts all can be found. The abrupt rise of mountains like the Huachuca from the surrounding arid grasslands creates "sky islands" harboring rare species and communities of plants and animals. This combination of factors gives Ramsey Canyon Preserve its tremendous variety of plant and animal life, including such southwestern specialties as the lemon lily, ridge-nosed rattlesnake, desert long-nosed bat, elegant trogon, and beryline and white-eared hummingbirds.

A spring-fed stream, northeast orientation, and high canyon walls provide Ramsey Canyon with a moist, cool environment unusual in the desert Southwest. Water-loving plants such as sycamores, maples, and columbines line the banks of Ramsey Creek, often growing within a few feet of cacti, yucca, and agave. Communities ranging from semi-desert grassland to pine-fir forest are found within the vicinity of Ramsey Canyon Preserve.
The Town of Patagonia

On our way to the Patagonia-Sonoíta Creek Preserve, we drove through and stopped to visit the historic tourist town of Patagonia, with some of Patagonia’s colorfully-storefronted shops vending antiques, others retailing Mexican artifacts, clothing and decorative items, the stores all laid down amidst the obligatory town offices and a delightful flurry of multihued old frame houses. On the way back to Tucson from Sonoíta Creek Preserve, we drove past the site of the now-former Empire Ranch, where they filmed most of the old-time television Westerns.

Patagonia-Sonoíta Creek Preserve

Wednesday we took another trip, this one to Sonoíta Creek Preserve, another Nature Conservancy site. Here’s a description from the brochure:
In a verdant floodplain valley between the Patagonia and Sierra-Rita Mountains of southeastern Arizona, within the watershed of Sonoíta Creek, lie some of the richest of the remaining riparian (streamside) habitat in the region. One of a few remaining permanent streams, it provides for a wide array of diverse species from endangered fishes to butterflies and birds. Joseph Wood Krutch, the distinguished American naturalist, once noted that “no other area in Arizona is more deserving of preservation” than Sonoíta Creek. This site contains the first two miles of permanent flow of Sonoíta Creek and the floodplains adjacent to the stream. This site contains very high biodiversity values that are primarily focused on the riparian habitat along Sonoíta Creek very high headwaters that are primarily found in the riparian habitats along Sonoíta Creek. As the first project for The Nature Conservancy in Arizona, it captured much of the biological diversity associated with these habitat types. The watershed is mostly undeveloped and its natural processes of flooding are mostly intact and functioning.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Saturday in Holy Week Sunrise 2005


Gila Bend, Arizona

Southwestern sunsets long have been legendary, but today’s Southwestern sunrise, 24 hours before Easter’s break o’ day, finds me wondering about promise, hope and shattered dreams. As I’m writing this, new day has broken over Gila Bend, Arizona, U.S.A.. These days I wonder if my heart has been ripped out or if my heart still remains with me, broken into about a zillion pieces. Right now at this moment we’re parked alongside Love’s Quality Fuel and the C-store attached to it; Love’s logo is a solitary heart, though also articulated as a trio of overlapping hearts lined up in a row!

How irresistible I find the desolate beauty of the palm trees (still haven’t learned how to distinguish one variety from another) all along the left and the very characteristically Southwestern mesquite to the right, graphically delineated against morning’s pale light. Mountains not too-far distant begin making inroads into this new day...

On Sun Tree River, my Poetry and other Passions blog, I posted a poem I wrote based on words I’d written on Desert Spirit’s Fire, my theology blog; today I’ll begin to complete a full circle and post dawnwashed blues here on this far by faith; here's the text:

On Desert Spirit's Fire, my theology blog, in a post called morning watch, I wrote:
Patterned after ancient practice but now in remembrance and anticipation of Easter dawn, there's a Christian tradition of Morning Watch. The fourth and last segment of the night watch, the morning watch of antiquity and of the New Testament epoch (that's us!) is from 3-6 AM; during this final watch of the night, darkness gently eases into the quiet early light of Easter dawn and God's Glory softly splashes over all creation.
Here's a poem I wrote about that hour of...

dawnwashed blues

during each night's final watch,
darkness gently eases into
quiet early light of daybreak's dawn
God's Glory softly splashes
over drowsing creation

yesterday's final light of day
followed by a slender slice of moonglow
held no starshimmer
during middle night's intensely indigo blues
today's hushed daybreak
whispered itself over creation’s
night's end watch anticipating dawn's first light
the sunup-washed sky shined with light-washed sheen
dawnwashed new morning blues made
fresh-sprung break of pale day blues

dawnwashed blues

Saturday, March 05, 2005

love after love

From my fall 2001 management class, this poem - by the 1992 Nobel Laureate in Literature - says it all!

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott