~ from cats, dogs and nature to the flowering of body, mind and spirit ~

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Desert Rain

Heavy falling
pouring rain on
hard packed soil
where puddles form
and flash-floods manifest
quick as a wink . . . 

     This is the desert within the contrast of sudden rain and stunning in its sense of sublime urgency and ecstatic connection to the flowing source of life.
     Walking a desert path, cool in the early morning air, with water trickling along the rocky definitions and sandy rivulets, toes wet and gritty.
     Most of the animals up and about, sniffing the air, and some are restless with the invigorating watery abundance so rare and precious.
     The air smells odd, so different from the rainy days in Maine with its overtones of grass and humus and blossoms of some kind somewhere exuding a rich, thick scent. Here, the air smells of dust raised by droplets hitting a dry pavement of soil, and aroma of a release of scents from a surface where all had lain dormant for such a long time in waiting; it smells of the past.
     Riparian exhibits now almost overwhelming in the cloying scent of water life maintained but now bursting with the extra moisture.
     Mountain lion and bobcat are roaming their large enclosures, climbing up and down the rocky paths, noses lifted up, sometimes breathing through open mouths to test the scents with unique organs catching even more subtle scents.
     I enjoy being with them, walking the paths in the stopping/starting rainfall, my clothes soaked, hat brim bending while water gathers on it and drops through the tiny holes of tightly woven straw. Pause under a tree during a particularly heavy fall, chilling skin reveals goosebumps from the cold drops, then walking again, allowing the air to dry me.
     The Javelina had "bolted for shelter" at one sudden deluge, the keeper said, as she now hurried to let them out again. Their coarse hair all spiky, the interesting not-pigs-though-they-look-like-them-at-first-glance quickly trot into the open space for fruit and vegetables left behind moments earlier.
     I feel conflicting emotions of gratitude to be with and witness some of the amazing creatures of the desert, living in as natural a habitat as possible, and that of sadness to see them confined and 'kept' rather than running free.
     And yet, I feel an honesty to the purpose of this place -- the desire to help people experience the wonders of life in the desert in order to inspire a desire to save our desert, our natural wonders, to admire and appreciate all the creatures who live here . . . to save 'the wilds' and figure out how to co-exist for the benefit of both human and wildlife. This place engenders a different sense than most 'zoos' I've been to (and to which I have a hard time going anymore). I feel a respect and a dedication emanating from this place, and from the people who work here -- the majority of whom are volunteers, not paid employees. In our ignorance and greed, so much of our Mother Earth has been and is being destroyed. This place is an effort to bring awareness to the forefront; to experience moments with flora and fauna who are incredible survivors is inspiring. If they can adapt to such an extreme environment--and thrive here--couldn't we all adapt to peaceful co-existence and co-thriving?
     "The mission of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is to inspire people to live in harmony with the natural world by fostering love, appreciation and understanding of the Sonoran Desert." 
This is where Ron and I spent our holiday morning, as I purchased an annual membership and we walked for hours delighting in the animals, the plants, and the glorious cool temperature brought by the monsoon rains. I know that I will spend many more hours here, especially in the winter, since we live a mere 15 minutes' drive away. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is celebrating its 60th Birthday as a unique interpretative museum, zoo and botanical garden. (P.S. Sorry for the poor photo quality; digital zoom just isn't that great!)


  1. How wonderful to visit the Desert Museum in the rain! The animals certainly look content, I think the museum lives up to their mission statement.

  2. It really was, Diane. I get completely caught up in the rare rains and want to experience them as much as possible, not just watch from indoors. Weird, huh? But there's just something about walking in the rain, embracing the elements and shrugging off what we tend to name as "discomfort" rather than joy in knowing it as life source.

  3. I love your writing here, Darla...vivid imagery and wonderful descriptions. I felt like I was there with you. I especially liked the way you contrasted a rainy day in Maine with a rainy day in the Arizona desert. This sounds like a really special place.

    1. I'm so happy you enjoyed the piece, Beth, thank you.


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