Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday Soliloquy-- Reading Amongst Friends

I've already said that Denis and I spent a few days last week down in our favorite cottage in the Mule Mountains outside of Bisbee, Arizona. Mystery readers might perk up at the mention of Bisbee, since that's where J.A. Jance's Sheriff Joanna Brady lives. I love Cochise County, and I love staying at the Mule Mountain Cottage. (By the way, if you go to the website for the cottage and the photos look familiar, there's a reason for that!)

Even in January, I have a difficult time staying indoors when we're not out exploring Cochise County. There's a door leading out to a patio under the live oaks with views of the Mule Mountains. For some reason-- although the patio is one of my favorite reading spots-- I didn't choose it this time. On our first morning there when we rolled out of bed, neither of us felt all that ambitious. By about 8 or 9, we'd both eaten breakfast, and Denis walked down the steep drive to the owners' house to have a nice long chin wag with them. Me? I decided I was going to sit outside the front door with my green tea, camera and books, soak up the sunshine and cool mountain air, and read and relax.

The front door of the cottage faces west, so while I sat there in the morning, I was in the shade, which suited me just fine. The cool, juniper-scented air was filled with bird song, and it didn't take long for my feathered friends to come check out the strange human sitting in the bright blue chair. A pair of Bridled Titmice were masters at keeping leaves between themselves and my camera lens, and so was a flock of Western Scrub-Jays. Even a Summer Tanager came to take a look at me. By the time the female Magnificent Hummingbird came along, I'd pretty much given up on trying to photograph birds. She visited the salvia about three feet away and then came to perch on another bush almost at my elbow. After she'd stared her fill, off she went, and I went back to my book.

I actually got several chapters read before my peripheral vision caught movement about three feet away. I looked up, moving nothing but my eyes, and there was a tiny young Ornate Tree Lizard staring at me intently. Now this was the same species of lizard that sat on my shoulder one afternoon while I was in the pool at home. After looking at me for almost a minute, it evidently decided that I posed no threat because it hopped from the boulder it was sitting on to the steps leading down to the door. For a good five minutes the little lizard sat there and gobbled up each and every ant that came its way. It was so quiet that I could hear it smacking its lips after each juicy morsel. Before too long, it had moved on to the wall of the cottage and around to the patio side. I wished it happy hunting because each insect it ate meant one less that would bother me.

Soon after the Ornate Tree Lizard disappeared, my peripheral vision kicked in again. This time it was a beautiful striped Desert Grassland Whiptail lizard that was much too skittish to be photographed. Obviously it disagreed with the other lizard's assessment of me! It didn't bother me. I'd much rather wildlife treated all humans as threats-- and stayed safe-- than be overly friendly. I'm not going to hurt them, but I can't say that about all humans.

Back I went to my book. A few more chapters whizzed by, and then I heard the distinctive sound of a woodpecker somewhere close by. It sounded close enough for a photograph, so I slowly raised my head while putting my book down and reaching for the camera. One thing for certain, photographing wildlife calls for a high degree of sneakiness! When I looked in the direction of the noise, I didn't see a woodpecker. Instead I saw a pair of mule deer cautiously moving through the tall grass that was such perfect camouflage.

Once they realized that I'd seen them and was actually pointing something at them, it didn't take long for them to disappear over to the other side of the mountain.

I went back to my book with a smile. Nothing recharges my batteries like reading outside amongst my friends, the critters. Denis came back from his visit full of things to tell me, little knowing that I had just as much to tell him. It was such a perfect morning that I wanted to spend every morning we were there doing exactly the same thing. But it wasn't to be. We only had one more morning, and we spent it out on the Pinery Canyon Trail, one of my beloved dirt tracks that took us high up on one of the "sky islands" of Cochise County. That morning was filled with roadrunners and more mule deer-- a fantastic day in its own right.

I suppose it was best that I only had one jewel-like morning outside the cottage. If I'd had more, I don't think Denis would've been able to get me back in the Jeep to return to Phoenix!

I hope you've enjoyed my bookish morning amongst friends. I also sincerely hope that, if it's something that pleases you, you've had similar mornings.

Do you like sharing your reading time with wildlife? I'd certainly love to know!

(If you'd like to see any of the photos full size, just click on them.)


  1. Wildlife - in Denmark?

    Well, I think we are quite privileged for this part of the world that we have seen buzzards, hares, lizzards and even a young fox around our own ´garden´ (a wilderness to be precise), but apart from insects it is rather difficult to PLAN to share anything with wildlife.

    But it is a great pleasure to read about your universe, Cathy.

  2. Our neighborhood has turtles, snakes, rabbits, a muskrat, ducks, geese and of course birds. I'm in awe every time a flock of geese flies over my head.

  3. Yesterday I had my first encounter of the season with a tarantula, so no, I do not like sharing my reading time with certain kinds of wildlife! :--)

  4. I've had deer, black bear, wild turkey, possums, skunks, groundhogs, chipmunks, rabbits, and of course gray and red squirrels right in the yard.

    We keep a bird feeder and birdbaths so we get a variety of songbirds, woodpeckers, blue jays, and others.

  5. Twice a year I go to a women's Silent Retreat that is held at a place with beauty all around. I usually take my little cooler, fold-away chair and, of course, my books and sit down by the river amongst the trees. I love it down there because I am visited by all sorts of wildlife. I love to listen to the birds chattering to one another, and every once in awhile I catch sight of a deer or raccoon.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful mini-vacation - I could just imagine you sitting there enjoying the morning.

  6. Lovely! I could see why it is one of your favorite places! Hopefully no murders except for the literary kind!

  7. What a beautiful post. I can't help but keep gazing at the photos. I love sharing my reading time with the wildlife. In our previous home in cottage country, there were rabbits in our yard, and red cardinals, and chickadees and.. you get the picture. We don't have it here in the city now, so thank you for sharing. :)

  8. Dorte--I didn't plan either. It just happened--which is always the best way. :)

    Kathy--It does sound as though you're well set for wildlife!

    Rhapsody--I'm not St. Francis...I wouldn't welcome a tarantula either (although I neither would I kill it).

    Beth--I'm coming for a visit if we ever head back that way!

    Kara--The Silent Retreat sounds wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

    Jenners--(Knock wood) Nope, just literary!

    Claire--You're welcome. Are you sure there's no way to have a tiny spot for wildlife where you live?

  9. Oh, what incredible pictures. Thank you for sharing them, i feel like I was on a mini vacation.

    Aahh, to escape for a little R&r sounds dreamy.

    Thank you again for sharing the gorgeous photos.

  10. "Resort"--A little R&R is always nice, isn't it? I'm glad you enjoyed my photos! :)

  11. I enjoyed reading your wildlife descriptions. I've read several of J.A. Jance's books and enjoyed the setting.

    Reading in my back yard and by my front window lets me see the local birds that nest and flit about in the serviceberry, dogwood, and cherry trees.

    I've tried to take a few pix of them for my garden blog, which I have still to update,

    I enjoyed your blog!

  12. BBDog--I'm glad you enjoyed them. I'm going to have to check out your link now!


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