Saturday afternoon I was sitting in my kitchen upstairs, the cat resting on the deck, watching the desert. All of a sudden she rushed to the glass slider, her tail completely puffed out, her coat bristling. I let her in and went to see what was out there. A large, beautiful coyote was chasing something in the yard. Couldn’t see what it was, but there are no ground squirrels around and mice and packrats are not out during the day.
I had a feeling it was the baby rabbit I had accidentally uncovered that morning while raking up some leaves next to the house, and where were the parents? Anyway, I yelled at the coyote to get out of the yard, and when he ran between the posts (4” o.c.), he barely got out, and they were vibrating from being pushed apart.
That evening I discovered the rabbit dead in the yard tools room, which the cat gets into via the dog door. So much for interfering with nature. I tossed it over the fence so that the coyote can eat it after all. Sigh.
Some of you may speak disparagingly of cats, but you’d have to have a fish in a tank to keep your pet from eating the flora (a friend said her dogs eat the grasses in the yard and throw up as my cat does, but that’s another story) and fauna. My Airedale ate quail eggs that the bird had laid under a bougainvillea, thinking that the thorns would keep them safe, and another friend’s dog ate a bunch of quail chicks that couldn’t fly yet. (And two children were eaten recently by a python which had escaped from a pet shop in Canada…)
Many of my students were off to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico last week for our spring break (I can feel the sun on my skin and taste the lime squeezing into my Dos Equis cerveza) but admittedly I couldn’t keep up with their soccer game on the beach, so I hosted friends from San Diego in town to see the sights.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Seven hours at the Desert Museum, including a nice lunch at their Ocotillo Café.
I thought that the highlight was the Raptor Free Flight. The last time I’d seen only Red-tailed Hawks1. This time we saw a Chihuahuan Raven, a Great Horned Owl, a Prairie Falcon, a Ferruginous Hawk, and a Red-tailed Hawk (which flew up to the top of a saguaro and sat there watching the desert, rather than flying over us and eating its treat). Missed some of the shots as they flew so fast and what seemed to be a few inches over our heads!
Check out the web site – their photos are better:
http://www.desertmuseum.org/visit/rff_index.php (I should have read it more closely before we had gone. We could have done the Raptor Free Flight again in the afternoon and seen a Gray Hawk, a Barn Owl, a Peregrine falcon, and a Harris’s Hawk.)
We saw the entire site! The weather, of course, was beautiful. (Sorry, you people back east still getting snow. It was 82°.)
Tucson Museum of Art
We spent another day at the Tucson Museum of Art. Miradas: Ancient Roots in Modern and Contemporary Mexican Art Works from the Bank of America Collection and Rose Cabat at 100 [as in years old!]: A Retrospective Exhibition of Ceramics. Loved Rose’s ceramics! Photos were not allowed as these were private collections, so photos from TMA’s website.
(Both days were free as I am a member of both the Desert Museum and TMA and have guest passes. But when we got to the Pima Air & Space Museum “we” – as in P. – coughed up money – you would think that it was Disneyland!)
Pima Air & Space Museum
The Pima Air & Space Museum is located next to Davis Monthan Air Force Base. In my 40+ years in Tucson, I had never been there. (Assigned the babysitter to take the kids.) We got there when it opened to catch a bus for the “Boneyard” (the 309th Aerospace Maintenance And Regeneration Group – AMARG) bus tour. The 4,000+ aircraft and 13 aerospace vehicles are from the U.S. Air Force, Navy-Marine Corps, Army, Coast Guard, and several federal agencies including NASA in varying degrees of storage or being regenerated/recycled. I tried, in photos, to convey how many there are.
We made the mistake of then getting on the 1-hour Tram Tour that takes passengers through the Museum’s 80 acres on a 1.5 mile circuit to view more than 150 planes. (The Boneyard is part of Davis Monthan; this is part of the Museum, which runs on volunteers and the fees to take the tours – no government dollars.) Even P, who wanted to see all of the planes, having jumped out of a few of them, got overload.
The volunteer docents for both the bus and the tram, retired Service people, were great – they recited details about all of the planes without even looking at notes!
Hangar 3, with a B-17 and bomber jackets and photos of guys who flew in them in WWII, also had one of the pilots! Richard Bushong, Colonel USAF Retired, 91. He was telling stories of the war (as he does each Thursday) and autographing his book.
Tags: AMARG Boneyard, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, baby rabbit, Chihuahuan Raven, Ferruginous Hawk, Great Horned Owl, Pima Air & Space Museum, Prairie Falcon, Raptor Free Flight, red-tailed hawk, Tucson Museum of Art