I thought the blooms on cactus would be over. But we seem to be having another round. Living in the Sonoran Desert for the first time, I’m learning how each month or week brings new sites and new life.
Our yard is currently a mess. We had a broken pipe in the yard that formed a large pool of water. Then after that one was fixed, another one burst. So we hired our gardener to completely replace the entire system. Our yard is a criss cross applesauce mess of trenches and pipes laying everywhere. It’s been five days, it’s not done, and we are watering plants with a hose or watering can. I think I lost my gardenia plant.
My husband has gone full Bill Murray from Caddyshack. He comes in with hands and arms filled with almost invisible stickers after trying to stop the rabbits and chipmunks from eating our plants. They love to munch on cactus. Who knew it would be so tasty? He’s tried traps, solar zappers and smoke bombs. Nothing seems to help. They not only eat the cactus above ground, they burrow underground and eat the roots. We’re skipping the poison method because we don’t want to kill the hawks or our bobcat.
This is the first picture I’ve gotten of our bobcat. When we had a home inspection done, the inspector went on the roof and said he found bones. The previous owners said, “That would be from the bobcat. He likes to sit on the patio roof over the pool.”
I’ve been a little nervous and have had a few fleeting sights of the bobcat slinking along the wall right outside our windows. My husband spotted him (her?) a few days ago and I watched from the casita as she sat and looked back at me. Our windows have a reflective coating, so I don’t think she really saw me. I’m calling her a she now because we’ve read that the males are much bigger and heavier than the females. This creature is about two feet tall and SKINNY!
Here are a few more of the interesting sights I saw over the weekend:
Here’s the bobcat walking away. She fits through our fence.
It was a relief. My daughter spent a few days with us in our new home. She likes it. She likes the area where we live — even though it’s not California. It’s in Arizona.
Her first job out of school was in Arizona and she has terrible memories. She took the job because the company flew her to Scottsdale from Utah. They put her up in a hotel, they took her out to dinner. She was swept off her feet. It was in her father’s field of investments So, it all seemed perfect to her. But it was far from it. It turns out taking a job to get your parent’s approval may not work out.
She lived in a house we purchased in a quiet family neighborhood. Not at all the best spot for a 22 year old — unless complete isolation and living next to boomers is your thing. Then her house got broken into and ransacked. The only good thing about that is they didn’t steal her pug. They locked him in the garage. Eventually she quit her job, got another one plus nannied in the early mornings for a single mom. She got hired for dream job in the Bay Area and moved up there. That worked out fine until COVID hit.
Fast forward to December 2020 and we moved to Arizona and she told us she would never come visit. She doesn’t have good memories of her one year here. I kept telling her although our address says Scottsdale, it really isn’t. I told we were out in the “sticks” as my hometown was called growing up. We’re far enough out of the metropolitan area to have a whole different feel.
She was surprised how far out of town we live. And she loves the nature. We watched a dozen javelina cross the street including babies at sunset. She enjoyed the bunnies and quails romping through our yard. She loves our house. She’s planning on another trip soon to visit.
The only snafu was Waffles. Olive was sleeping under our bed and Waffles decided to charge her at 4 a.m. We heard the kerfuffle and Waff flew out from under the bed. Olive stayed put.
The next day our daughter wiped a booger from Waffles’ snout. It turned out to be a claw embedded through his skin. There was no more trouble from Waffles and Olive after that.
My bones ache. My muscles are tired. I don’t know why it’s so hard to recover. Maybe we overdid it and got carried away. Every weekend we go for a hike. When we started out with life in Arizona, we explored new areas to hike, but no more than two or three miles a day.
A week ago Friday, we had a visit from my sorority big sister and her husband. Wonderful surprise to see them after many years — and to learn that they are buying a home a few miles away! We went for a five-mile hike with them on the nature’s preserve across the street. It was a gorgeous afternoon and so much fun to catch up on the past 10 years or so of our lives.
Then as we walked them out in the dusk to their car, we were showing them our yard — I tripped over a cactus and flew onto our brick walkway landing on both knees and hands. Hard! I was stunned and didn’t bounce back to my feet. My husband had to help me up and I felt like a fool. Our friends were worried about me and I assured them I was fine.
Ever since my knee surgery, I have to think about how to get up. It’s like I’ve fallen on a steep ski slope and I have to make sure I’m positioned perpendicular to the slope with my skis below me before I can push myself up. My physical therapist had to teach me how to get up after surgery and had me practice it. I have to put my knees below my butt, sitting on my side before I push myself up — just like getting up on the slopes. That’s why I was not bouncing up after tripping over the cactus. It’s a mental thing but also my knees and hands hurt.
Fast forward to yesterday and I felt no pain in my knees and only my right hand still hurts, so we went for another hike. We brought a trail map with us and found a loop across the street from our house. It was on the hot side, but there was a nice breeze. I didn’t slip or fall and made it through the six miles of undulating trails through the Sonoran Desert without a hitch.
When we got home I felt tired. So did my husband. We took a cold water plunge and went waist high into our freezing cold pool to get our legs back under us. Then I luxuriated on a zero gravity lounge reading a novel for an hour. What a gorgeous, perfect Sunday.
The cold water plunge reminded me of my daughter during swim meets when she had prelims and finals with a few hour break between sessions. She’d fill the hotel tub with ice and water and soak in the freezing cold ice bath to recover.
Today I woke up and tried to stand up. Yikes. I’m sore and tired. Moving kind of slow for a Monday.
Do you find it harder to recover as you get older? Or, is everything still as easy as ever. Do you have any tips that make it easier?
I walk every single day and have for at least six years — except for 2018 when tore my ACL and meniscus skiing. I had surgery and months of recovery. Other than that lovely experience, I get out seven days a week without fail.
In Palm Springs, I’d walk downtown among the shops and restaurants or around the neighborhood and park. In my new Arizona home, it’s a wilder landscape full of saguaro, brush, shrubs, hawks and quail. At first I walked every morning in our development but that soon became boring. So I ventured outside to a sidewalk between our development and wild federal land.
The wild views across the street.
I made a pledge to myself that every weekend, my husband and I would explore a new trail and go hiking. I was excited to get off the sidewalk and see more, but not willing yet to do it on my own. Moving into a new area during a global pandemic makes hiking the perfect way to explore safely. The first weekend after getting somewhat settled, we drove 10 miles to Cave Creek Regional Park for our first hike, which was challenging and gorgeous.
To find more trails, I googled moderate hikes in the county and discovered our house was across the street from a conservancy with trails — the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. We’re miles from the main entrance but there are trails literally across the street. A trailhead is two miles down the street from our house. We decided to drive to the trailhead instead of wasting four miles round-trip on the sidewalk. The other choice is to cross the street and walk through the brush and cactus until we ended up on a trail. I nixed that.
During the hike, as we got further into the wilderness, I felt a little anxious as we passed coyote scat and other signs of wildlife. I told my husband that next time I’ll bring my pepper spray or a hiking pole. My husband, of course, thought I was silly.
The hike was easy and we marveled at ancient saguaro and wanted to learn more about other cactus and plants. The landscape is so different from what we’re used to, it’s breathtaking. I wonder if I’ll get used to it and take it for granted? We missed the trailhead that led to our car. We kept going thinking it would be around the next bend. Pretty soon, we were close to our house. So we backtracked — adding more than a few miles to our hike. Not so easy, after all.
It takes a saguaro 100 years to grow an arm. I wonder how old this guy is?
Do you hike or walk during COVID-19 to get exercise? Where are your favorite places to go?