Posts Tagged ‘desert living’

Fighting the Urge to Nest

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

When we bought our Tucson house four years ago, the large entry courtyard was rocky dirt with a few succulents and cactus. Since the front of the house faces east to the beautiful Catalina Mountains, there was an inspiring view to reclaim. We wanted to create an inviting oasis to enjoy sunrise coffee or evening cocktails in the shade, surrounded by flowers. And we’re accomplishing that.

Now that the planters’ flowers and bushes are mature and it’s Spring, the quail are determined to move in and prepare their nests in our cool, secure courtyard. They don’t seem to care about the size of the pot. They’ll simply kick everything out they can and settle in. My sister-in-law, Susan Gunn, has shared stories of raising chickens and that after they put them to bed in the evening, she and Sherm toiled in the chicken yard filling holes. This morning I found my fairy garden thoroughly excavated, soil, cottage, and fairies ejected onto the pavers. Now it seems I’m tending a chickenyard. But instead of a shovel and rake, I use stones, larger fairies, and weighty whimsical stuff to fill the prospective quail nest foundations. I had to relocate the frog pond away from the fairy garden because the quail fished the tiny resin frogs out of the pond, only to toss them onto the pavers when they discovered fake frogs weren’t very tasty.

The only pot in the courtyard the quail haven’t yet tried to terraform and move into is a kalanchoe guarded by my pet metal javelina, Pig Iron. However, perhaps one of these mornings I’ll take my coffee to the courtyard to watch the sunrise and find Pig Iron on his side on the floor. A quail couple will explode out of the yellow pot, complaining loudly, laying a dark cloud of soil behind them, only to return after the sun sets on the back garden. And there it is—Clang! Pig Iron hits the bricks, sparking the eternal question—can a dedicated fairy garden horticulturist win against live quails’ urge to nest? Or can she reach detente with both flora and fauna, real and imagined, and declare peace in our garden? Perhaps we’re getting there, if this happy little garden is any indication . . . .

 

 

CHASING HORNY TOADS: Born Restless

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

I like to believe I was born in the perfect place, to the perfect parents at a perfect time for what I wanted to accomplish in this life. But I was restless. From that 2:00 o’clock hour on a scorching August afternoon in Northwestern Arizona when 8.3 pound me was pulled out of a 100 pound young Norma Jean, I dreamed of being somewhere else. Anywhere. Anytime. And I was in a hurry to get there.

I didn’t appear in this world with travelin’ shoes, just the lifelong urge to find some that actually fit. One early day my long, even then, feet carried three year old me out the front door and down the unpaved street. I made it several dusty, hot blocks to the first sidewalk of downtown Kingman before a pickup truck pulled up beside me.

“Where are you going, Melinda?”

I looked straight ahead and kept walking. Faster now as I was about to pass the slouchy wood building with sagging screen doors opening on the street, a creepy place where funny old men “flopped” and little girls must beware.

The pickup stopped, blocking my escape. “Melinda,” the driver repeated, climbing out of the cab, “where’s your mother?”

Blistering wind whirled dust around me in a miniature tornado. My eyes stung as I squinted at my options: floppy old men lurking on my left and right in front of me, Mrs. Oswalt, a tall mother in a cotton dress whipping around her long legs who confined her little boy in the truck where she intended to capture me.

She took my sweaty little paw and bent eye level with me. “Where are you going, honey?”

I gave up and announced, “I’m going to the Corky Pig!” I let her lead me to the pickup.

She stopped and looked down at me with a frown. “But that’s way up on Hilltop. A couple of miles from here.” She continued to mutter this refrain the whole ride home as if to make an impression upon me of the impossibility of my quest. When my mother answered the door, Mrs. Oswalt pushed me forward, releasing my hand, and repeated this horror story to her.

As long as my mother lived, when we talked about my congenital wanderlust, she would protest how she hadn’t even realized I had left my room to walk to the Corky Pig, a hole-in-the-wall barbeque place miles away from our little house. They’d taken me there one time. “And it wasn’t that good,” Mom would always laugh.

But as the Mmmmmmelinda song goes: When a girl’s born restless and has a taste for adventure, she’ll put on her big boots that are made for walkin’. That’s just what she’ll do and walk all over—for barbeque. Or to the Dairy Queen with a penny, but that’s another sunny tale.