My last full day in Tucson was filled with surprises because Jane and I went to the Desert Museum. My head is swirling with the vivid colors, flora, and fauna of the desert. So many words, interesting information, and exquisite images floating around in my head:
we watched the flight of raptors as close as is possible in the wild…. the chihuahua ravens are black and survive wonderfully in the desert because, in nature, black wings are less fragile than white ones…a female red tail hawk perched on top of a saguaro appeared and we watched her fly up high, we were told she likes to hunt snakes though they must taste bitter because she won’t eat them.. a great horned owl swept low over my head and I felt an eerie rush of wind as it flew overhead…what a relief to be shorter than the woman directly in front of me as the owl swept over our heads….why do i think the owl with its comical tufted ears resembles my cat? when the owl hooted, it sounded both sweet and plaintive, the same sound my cat used to make when he wanted to come in from being out in the rain…..the desert sun beat down on my sun-screen-slathered-shoulders and a gentle cool breeze seemed to always be there when I needed it most….
the numerous drinking fountains in the outdoor desert museum offered up fresh cool water to quench my thirst, and Jane and I stopped at each water fountain for a sip….
the gila monster is dangerous and beautiful, it is not a monster at all, but its venom is poisonous, please don’t get bitten by this lizard because it will not let go of your leg or your arm and it will chew and chew to keep releasing poisons which could eventually kill you, the gila monster stores its energy in its tail, and, though i will never find out via firsthand experience, we are told that the skin of the gila monster feels just like the surface of a basketball….we are told the rattlesnake is not aggressive, but will bite to protect itself when it feels threatened, the rattlesnake does not always rattle to warn you of its presence….brave staff members use three foot long hooks to control the rattlesnake and the gila monster, even though the desert museum employees mentioned several times throughout the day that the wild animals here are well fed and their lives are good and safe, i had pangs of sorrow for the animals I observed because they are living in captivity……
the tortilla my sandwich is wrapped in has some 500 calories, but i eat it anyways because the sun and heat have made me ravenous…..
in the aquarium i saw pencil eels, thin as pencils they stick straight out of the bottom of the aquarium, their lower ends are shovel-shaped and dig fast into the sand when a predatory fish approaches….the seahorse’s eyes can move independent of each other, the male seahorse carries the fertilized eggs in its pouch….
the hummingbird aviary is filled with darting colorful hummingbirds, some of them sit on nests and one was busy trying to feed its baby whose miniscule beak resembles a sewing needle….
a saguaro cactus must reach 60 years of age before it grows its first set of branches or arms, the saguaro soaks in water when it rains and plumps up fantastically, if there is a heavy desert rain, a saguaro cactus can absorb enough water to carry it over for two years…if you ever watch a western movie and see saguaro cacti in the background, the movie had to be filmed in arizona because the saguaro does not grow anywhere else in the world.
I could go on and on with the visit to see the gems of the area, the aquarium, the aviary, the hummingbird aviary, the snakes, the cougars and bobcats, the lizards, the desert flowers, and plants and trees. The photos will carry on where words fail. I hope all my readers will have a chance to experience Tucson’s Desert Museum.