Wednesday, November 28, 2012

High Desert

I realize that only a nincompoop brings a camera to 5000 feet at noon in Arizona.  Whatever.  Catalina highway is a really nice motorcycle ride.  In just a few miles, it goes from scorching basin full of saguaros, to towering range ringed in vegetation zones that seem to change every 90 seconds.  A sixty degree breeze almost makes you forget the dehydrating sun.

Dust.  Trudging the yellow grass.  Hearing the click and flee of grasshoppers.  Kickstarted, each zooms on the noise of paper fan wings.  They land bewildered and furl, always cocked for another flight.

Some tiny desert skunk, hard of sight, tail a white flag, the noxious weasel.  Small and shivering under the bush, piggy nostrils flared.  Why interrupt, he begs.  Arch and dichrome, he threatens.  Awkward apology, distant defense, shadow communication.  Range of spray?  His bombs quiver under sphincter control, barely in check, promising to be more than his spare, hairy carcass of sinew is worth.  He'd love to just return to the rustle and snuffle, his nose-down day.

The rumor of breezes, the seed heads draft and crash together, applauding the air.  Their tinder nestles tight to clumping dirty rhizomes.  Rank fur of the hillside, not bothering with spines.  The living is hidden just below.  The rest is simply useless and dead enough to be ignored.  Until, maybe, that rummaging skunk sniffs the castings of a rooty insect.  And tunneling below dirt and grass, retrieves the little treasure.  Fuel to amble off, searching the next.

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