I just love it when the monsoons hit.  Yesterday evening the little wash behind my house was running, from the canales.  The temperature had dropped 20°.  At one point the wind was coming almost parallel to the ground and I couldn’t even see the hill behind the house.  This video by University of Arizona Atmospheric Sciences tells it all:  Humidity’s up to 35%!  (But nothing like Mississippi or South Carolina.)

storm 007
My neighbors, who said they’d call the police when my yard crew started to trim one of their mesquites that hung way over my property, lost a huge limb off that mesquite.  I’d chortle if I knew how.  At least now I’ll have my view from the kitchen window back after they dispose of the downed limb.  (Break at bottom left.)

mesquite 003


storm 008

storm 003A family of quail came by this morning with five almost-grown chicks, when I was outside with no camera.  Another family with four little ones, using my stone path.  This guy is a Brown-crested Flycatcher:

 Landscape Design

Another design feature I learned about in Landscape for Living (this from Wikipedia):

A ha-ha is a recessed landscape design element that creates a vertical barrier while preserving views. The design includes a turfed incline which slopes downward to a sharply vertical face, typically a masonry retaining wall. Ha-has are used in landscape design to prevent access to a garden, for example by grazing livestock, without Ha_ha_wall_diagramobstructing views. In security design, the element is used to deter vehicular access to a site while minimizing visual obstruction. The name “ha-ha” derives from the unexpected (i.e., amusing) moment of discovery when, on approach, the recessed wall suddenly becomes visible.

I can see how this would keep cattle and sheep from chewing up the large lawn of an English estate, and the idea of having no fence is nice, but would it work in the desert?  Know the ha-ha would keep out javelina, but you’d need a large declivity to keep out deer (who can jump up to 12 feet but have never jumped over my 4-foot fence into my yard, they’re so skittish), coyotes (who can jump a distance of over 13 feet, so you’d have to measure distance, not height), and bobcats (who can jump up to 12 feet).

On the other hand, the main reasons for the fence were to keep in the dog (now deceased) and to have the 4′ fence required by code for the spa, to keep out kids who want to drown themselves.  A ha-ha would work for the kids, but I can see a dumb dog jumping out after some animal and breaking a leg!  Better for photos, but not if the animal is in the ditch!

big bobcat 003A friend had asked me to name the vine curling up my trellis.  Didn’t know, but found it in Cool Plants for Hot Gardens: it’s a Yellow Butterfly Vine (Mascagnia macroptera), not named because the flowers attract butterflies, but because during summer, chartreuse ‘wings’ unfold on the seed pods that look like butterflies.

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2 Responses to “Storm”

  1. Jim Says:

    Have enjoyed watching the Sonora Desert fairy shrimp which suddenly appear in the vernal pools, during the monsoon season?

    • notesfromthewest Says:

      No vernal pools around here. The washes run when it rains, but there is no standing water. Back four houses ago when I had a pond (which you helped me dig) I’d get the Couch’s spadefoots, sounding like bleating sheep, mating in it after a monsoon. But the goldfish ate all of the eggs.

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