Posts Tagged ‘Sonoran Desert’

Maybe what makes snow so special for me is that we don’t get it very often in the desert. New Year’s Day we walked out to a winter wonderland, totally unexpected but a welcome change. Our dogs, Tito and Lalo, ran around and reveled in it much like kids would do. Seeing the white stuff on the cactus lifted my spirits and I enjoyed sprinting after the dogs. Lalo is a black malte-poo so when we came in the house, his face was white from sticking his nose into the snow. Tito, is white, so it didn’t show up on him.

By noon, the sun had melted all of it. The only evidence left was the dripping off from the roof. Our house has a flat roof so it must have collected a couple of inches of snow. All our garden plants were well watered. As much as I like the snow, I don’t like the cold that comes with it. Several years ago, we went to Minneapolis for a family reunion at Thanksgiving. It snowed and desert dweller that I am, I froze. A couple of years ago, we went to Boston so I could attend a writing conference. It snowed. Even with a heavy coat, boots, gloves, scarf, and hat, I froze. I’m not used to the cold.

Living at the base of Mount Lemon, we can go up the mountain whenever it snows. We rarely do so. Instead, I’d rather appreciate it when it snows on the desert.

Snow on cactus


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Little Lalo licked a Black King Snake that crawled into the kitchen yard yesterday, and Tito thought he was a snake and swallowed a round tail squirrel whole before I could stop him. The adventures of Ebony and Ivory in the desert.

I’ve blazed trails all over our two acres of Sonoran desert that wind around the mesquites, palo verdes, saguaros, ocatillos, and tall stands of nopales. The trails make our walks longer and the dogs love running the trails, but today, Tito was in a halter because of his behavior yesterday. If I hadn’t chased him all over our land, to try pulling the squirrel out of his mouth and seen him swallow it whole, I would never have believed it. He wound up in the front driveway and put his head up and gulped. Down went the squirrel. I don’t even know if it was dead or alive. All day I worried that Tito would get sick but today he was fine. After the incident yesterday, he ran to our boundary fence and barked furiously at the neighbor dogs that were barking at him. After their owner called them off, Tito pranced back to me as if to say, “See I protected you!”

Now about Lalo licking a snake—thank goodness it wasn’t a rattler. He was curious I guess, but it could have turned out differently if it had been a rattler. Lalo didn’t like what he tasted and backed away quickly, but a rattler could have struck him even faster. I’d seen the King Snake a few weeks earlier or maybe its mate, stretched across the path near the gate. I think it lives in the bushes under the mesquite tree. It crawled into the garden through the drain hole in our stuccoed hay bale wall. When Lalo backed off, I saw the snake vibrating its tail like it had rattles on it. It was trying to scare me into thinking it was a rattler.

My friend, Shirley, had a King Snake in her garden. She called a snake exterminater, but the snake was gone. He looked in one of her sheds and found three big pack rat nests, empty. Apparently the snake took care of the pack rats. He told her she should buy the snake a beer. Now she wants the snake to come back and live in her garden to keep pack rats away.

It’s the time of year when we desert dwellers (and people who live in the city) have to watch out for snakes. They love the heat and they’re out and about, unlike the human dwellers who go out in early morning before the heat of the day to run our errands. I’ve only seen three rattlers on our land in 13 years, one on the driveway that Kurt almost stepped on getting into the car, one in our garage, and a gigantic rattler on the low part of our land near the wash. Firemen took away the one in the garage and the others crawled off to who knows where, hopefully far away!

I hope Lalo had enough with the lick to know to stay away from snakes and Tito learned that swallowing squirrels whole can cause tummy aches. He finally threw it up that evening.

Tito & Lalo aka Ebony & Ivory

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