Sunday, March 25, 2012

Southwest Spring

It's been an odd weather year. No matter where you live, winter was unusual. While Boston and New York had temperatures in the eighties a week ago, Tucson shivered in the fifties and sixties. Sleet fell in downtown and the mountains were capped with a frosting of snow.

As this week progressed, things got back to normal. The northern tier got colder and Arizona warmed up to the eighties. And, despite the oddities of March, Tucson had a warmer than usual winter and the wildflowers are blooming about a month ahead of schedule.

But the thing that impressed me most, the event that let me know spring has arrived, was that a herd of javelina crossed the road just ahead of me as I drove home from work Friday night. There must have been twelve or fifteen of these animals, including three or four young ones.

This isn't my picture. (Picture removed due to copyright restrictions.) I was too busy watching the javelina come out of the desert on one side of the road, run across, and disappear into the desert on the other side to think about pulling out my phone and snapping a picture. I found this on http://fireflyforest.net/firefly/ when I Googled javelina. Now I think I have another favorite site. This person has lots of great photographs of nature on her site.

Javelina aren't pigs, although that's what most people think of when they see them. Technically, they're peccaries. They'll eat anything and have learned that garbage pails are a particularly good source of tasty meals. After seeing a small herd in my neighborhood one evening last year, I stopped putting my trash out the night before. I've seen too many pails knocked over, their contents scattered in the street.

Another sign of spring is that Carolyn Niethammer has started posting recipes for spring greens on her blog. I wrote about taking her Cooking the Wild Southwest class last year.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has scheduled a cholla bud harvest. That's one native food I haven't tried yet. In fact, I haven't cooked any of the native food recipes since January. I've reverted to my quick and easy microwave habit.

Last weekend I spent some time cleaning up my front yard. As I've noted before, while growing most things in the desert is a challenge, somehow weeds have no trouble popping up in the gravel that we use instead of grass here. I was going to do the same in the back this weekend, which needs the clean-up a lot more than the front did, but I have a problem getting rid of "weeds" that have such beautiful flowers. I'll need to work on it soon, though, because it too easily gets out of hand.

It's also the spring weekend of the Fourth Avenue Street Fair.  If I didn't have so much to do, it would be wonderful to go downtown and walk through it again.

It won't be long before Tucson temperatures are above one hundred degrees again and I'll stay indoors in the air conditioning as much as I can. In the meantime, I'll enjoy my Southwest Spring.
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