Posted on 2 Comments

Project Update: A tribute to Phoenix mountains.

I’m running behind. I finished Superstition Mountain then 80 million things happened. Ok. Ok. Not 80 million, only 30 million. I will not post the paintings until all four are finished. Do you want to see  Superstition Mountain? Then join me at Village Coffee Roastery this Saturday about 9:ooam. ( 8120 Hayden Rd, Scottsdale, Arizona). Until Saturday, enjoy this sunset scene from Ironwood National Monument in Northwest of Tucson. This trip was with some artist friends from Jerome in 2004. I have been coming here since 1971 and have spent one-hundred or more days and nights in this area. This trip was memorable for the number of young desert tortoises. I counted about six. That is six more than I’ve seen here, ever. Wonderful news. I also met one rather upset diamondback rattlesnake. I inquired as to the reason for his or her problem, but an answer was not forthcoming.

Sunset over Ironwood National Monument (oil, 7x5in, 2010)
Posted on Leave a comment

Surrounded by coyotes

I have spent lots of days and nights (easily 200+) in the desert around this mountain when I worked as an undergraduate field assistant at the University of Arizona Mammal Museum. It is Ragged Top, at the northern end of the Silverbell Mountains, northwest of Tucson, Arizona. The desert here is very lush, with just about every plant and animal species in the Sonoran Desert ecosystem.

I assisted graduate students with live-trapping and measuring and then releasing wild desert mice to study their populations. On cold nights the mice would get torpid if they spent too much time above ground in a trap (torpid: a state of suspended/sluggish physical activity, like hibernation). We would carry them in our pockets until they warmed up, then put them back near where they came from. I could tell they were coming back to life when I felt them moving around in my shirt and pants pockets!

200+ traps were spread out in the square shape, which made about a 5 mile walk. I remember checking the traps one very dark night, alone. At one point I heard noises around me. My heart started beating a bit faster.  Then I heard a hushed “yip”, a sharp, high pitched bark. I was surrounded by coyotes. An unsettling, but not frightening situation once I realized they were coyotes; mountain lions live here, too. They became quiet. The “yip” probably came from an inexperienced youngster. I could hear them running around on both sides of me. They moved when I walked, and stopped when I stopped. I could only catch an occasional glimpse. They stayed just beyond the reach of my headlamp. How many? I didn’t know. At least 3 or 4 for sure. They were with me for a good distance. I think they were hoping that I would drop a mouse. Just in case, I carefully put each mouse near a hole. Oh, and then there were snakes …