from Deanna Travis
Publisher & Owner
PACK UP YOUR TROUBLES - [Heading for home]
We’re just a little more than a week away from heading the car back north to Livingston, Montana. The winter here in Tucson, Arizona has flown by so fast. At least we didn’t have the cold and wind which our friends and neighbors at home were bombarded with. That isn’t exactly the truth either. Seems this winter here is now being described as one of the coldest on record. We had temperatures of 17 degrees twice, which caused lots of damage to plants, especially the citrus trees. Our grapefruit tree is going to make it, but the lemon tree is in sad shape. It probably will make it but rest assured there will be no lemons next year.
There are a lot of other surprises. We have several rose bushes, tea rose type and they are in full bloom. Just beautiful - I’m a bit concerned as to how they will fare when the summer temperature hits the hundred mark, but there are others in the neighborhood which would indicate they somehow survive. I don’t think I have ever seen Amaryllis growing in the ground before. Sure, in pots especially grown for the Christmas holidays, but not in a garden. We have several and they are blooming. It is really nice to see. There are other plants, I haven’t figured everything out and unless they bloom before we leave they will remain a mystery. Another of the surprises is the iris, and not just a few. We see them in many local gardens perhaps more enjoyable because they were so unexpected.
We didn’t do everything we had hoped to this winter, but I do want to mention a couple of things. We spent the best part of a day at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden all in one place. On 21 acres there are over 300 animal species and 1200 kinds of plants. We didn’t see everything on this trip and plan to return again. There are several places to eat there and we met friends at the Ironwood Terrace for lunch (Bob and Nancy Auger from Livingston are also winter residents here) and it was great to be able to see them. The food was great as well.
We did get to see one of the raptor free-flight exhibits, very impressive to have a big owl landing on a roof edge just above your head and returning to its handler on command. For the bird watchers, there is a walk-in aviary with about 40 species of native birds and another with just hummingbirds - and lots of them. We found a quiet bench where we could sit and watch a hummer building a nest! The first one I’ve ever seen in person. She hovered over our heads looking for stray threads to use to hold the nest together. Tons of feeders of course, I don’t know how many hummers were there, what a wonderful thing to see.
Another outstanding exhibit there is the Earth Science Center with a limestone cave, complete with stalagmites, stalactites and pools. For the kids an optional loop trail - a true caving experience with 75 feet of low ceilings, rough footing and tight passages. The exhibit explains the formation of caves and of the earth itself.
The day we were there was an in-training day for the docents, but normally there are volunteers available to answer questions or giving various demonstrations. (As a side bar, the Saguaro National Park here has over 500 volunteers. So you can see the importance to the budgets of these organizations that certainly would not be able to function at their current levels without the volunteers.) Keep that in mind the next time you are asked to help out.
I haven’t covered even a small portion of the Desert Museum; it’s such a terrific facility, if you are in the Tucson area plan to spend at least a day there. Visit their website www.desertmuseum.org for upcoming events, (even art shows) seasonal programs and more! (If you go, start early. They open at 8:30 am and during the school year you are likely to find kids of all ages on class tours there by lunch time.)
We were also treated to lunch recently at the Old Tucson Studios. Yes, real film studios where a ton of western movies were - and still are being made. The National Park Service recognized their volunteers with a nice western lunch and service awards. Neil had worked at Saguaro National Park when he wintered here before and was welcomed back this year.
“A superstar in its’ own right, Old Tucson Studios has hosted over 300 film and television productions since 1939 including Western film classics such as Rio Bravo, The Outlaw Josey Wales, and Tombstone. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Elizabeth Taylor and Kurt Russell are just a few of the legends who have walked these fabled streets playing unforgettable roles that are etched in our minds and hearts forever.” [Quoted from the hand-out map and show schedule handed out at the gate] Films, shoot-outs and even a can-can revue are part of the daily program available to visitors. You can see it too at: www.oldtucson.com it really was a fun adventure and worth seeing.
Now the hard work starts - figuring out what goes and what stays here. Gratefully when we came down here last fall and I was sorting through clothing and trying to make some sense out of what I brought, Neil patted me on the head and said, “There are stores in Tucson, you can always buy what you need.” Duh. Somehow that seemed to work and I not only survived, I have just loved being here! ~ LadyFisher