Rattlesnakes and Friends in Catalina State Park (Part 2)

(from nature awareness and culture journal March 13, 2017, part 2)

The sun was low in the sky now, and a lone coyote walked by 100 feet ahead. He saw us and ran in the other direction.

Robbie: “Look mom a vermillion fly catcher! Those are my favorites!”

Mom: “They are beautiful Robbie. Do you know what vermillion means? It is a bright red orange.”

Robbie: “oh! well that makes sense. Look mom, I can ride with one hand and turn this way!”

Mom: “Please stay away from the side of the roads and where the grass is tall.”

Robbie: “I know Mom.”

Mom: “Just checking.”

Robbie wheeled in circles around me chuckling and happy.

We rode/walked the 1 mile over to the Ringtail campground where we stayed periodically over the last several months. Our friends were there: Michele, the former circus dancer, state department and University of Arizona employee cum intrepid explorer, and Peter and Lynn the camphosts. All 3 were instrumental in getting us settled and the helping me to learn how to back up a trailer and hitch up the car to the trailer. We really enjoyed their company, and all 3 were grandparents as well.

The Ringtail campground despite it not having electricity and water hookups AND being so close up to other people, was to date one of my favorite campground. The water was sourced from the mountain and filtered. The bathroom had huge vaulted ceilings and large showers, clean and brand new. The wildlife there is close up and personal: A pack of coyotes make their rounds in the morning and evening, one starting the cry the others following. In the evening they start their rounds in the east, circle south then west, ending up on the little ridge on the western part of the camp singing as the last rays of light go down behind the horizon. Birds are abundant in the mesquite tree stands along the trailhead leading out of the site: a large great horned owl made a nest for her young there.

As we chatted with our friends, the sun started to disappear and the coyotes started up their cry. We headed the mile back to our campsite avoiding all undergrowth and grasses, the rattlesnake experience a little too fresh in our memories.

A hawk circled overhead as we passed the mesquite stand. The mesquites are home to many birds here, predators and not. This morning we watched 2 hawks: the male and female had found a tree that had the branches they wanted for their nest in another tree 100 feet away. They swooped and dived keeping low to the ground as they built. Now this lone hawk circled perhaps looking for an evening snack.

A crow cawed. A dove coo’ed. The Catalina mountains turned pink in the alpine glow as day transitioned to night. Robbie rode his bike, then putting his hands and knees on the bars, assumed a lotus position and touched his index fingers to his thumb: “Bike yoga Mom! Ommmm…Ommmm…Ommmm!”

I laughed right along with him as we made our way back to the campground, the birds, rattlesnakes, coyotes and humans all heading home for some type of supper.