This past Thursday was a doubleheader for Denis and me. The evening would end at The Poisoned Pen where we would meet crime fiction great Sara Paretsky, but first we headed to the Desert Botanical Garden where we wanted to see the Monarch butterfly and the Dia de los Muertos exhibits. As always, you can click on any photo to see it in more detail in a new window.
|Chihuly glass sculptures inside the garden entrance|
There are striking Chihuly glass sculptures throughout the Desert Botanical Garden, including these just inside the entrance. When the sun strikes them, they turn into towering pillars of fire. The artist, Dale Chihuly, has a photo of them on his website.
|Another Chihuly sculpture being installed|
As we walked through the garden, various pathways were roped off because new Chihuly sculptures were being installed, like the one in the photo above, but we found our way to the butterfly pavilion. Unlike the exhibit in the spring, this one in the fall is devoted solely to Monarch butterflies.
|Monarch butterflies soaking up the sun|
No wonder one of my Christmas trees is covered with flowers and butterflies-- they make perfect ornaments! However, Denis and I didn't just soak up the beauty, we also learned how to sex Monarchs...
|Say hello to this male Monarch butterfly...|
|...and to this female|
Have you spotted the difference? Leave a comment if you do! (Difference in color has nothing to do with it.)
|Gorgeous creatures, aren't they?|
But as much as we enjoyed the butterflies, we also wanted to see the Dia de los Muertos exhibit, so after ensuring that we weren't harboring any colorful hitchhikers, we left the pavilion and walked on.
|A shy little mourning dove|
Shortly after I saw the little mourning dove, we discovered that I'd written down the wrong dates for the Dia de los Muertos exhibit. *sigh* But we were within a few yards of one of my favorite spots in the entire garden: the Patio Cafe. The first time Denis and I sat at a table, we learned that it was one of the best spots to relax and let the wildlife come to you. The entire garden is filled to bursting with wildlife, but there's something about sitting in the shade with a cold drink and having young Gambel's quail pecking at the ground around your feet.
|Sitting and relaxing at the Patio Cafe|
|Young Gambel's Quail|
|I love these little birds, singly or...|
|... or whole lines of 'em!|
I got to learn the sounds young Gambel's quail make when they say, "Feed me! Feed me!" but they weren't the only ones at the Patio Cafe. There were curve-billed thrashers and cactus wrens and...
|Desert cottontails and...|
The young ground squirrel looked as though it was imitating Denis and me as we sat and sipped our cold drinks through our straws. But the absolute highlight of our time at the Patio Cafe was when one of the best known symbols of the desert showed up to see if there was anything new on the menu--
|A roadrunner! Meep! Meep!|
|Those quail are getting all the best tidbits!|
|Hah! I see some they missed!|
|All shook up!|
|Two of my favorites, side by side|
Only the chance to see someone like Sara Paretsky could've gotten me to leave the Patio Cafe-- and you can bet the farm that one of these days, I'm going to take a book and my camera and spend the afternoon right there!