Being new to northwest Tucson, I am amazed at the amount of wildlife roaming about (I'm not talking about the retirees!). Maybe I'm mesmerized because I grew up in Manhattan and didn't see a cow until I was 12.
When I moved from Albuquerque to Tucson over a year ago, I had no idea life would be so different. Albuquerque is contained whereas Tucson is spread out. No javelinas. No mountain lions. No cardinals. No bobcats, either, come to think of it.
That could account for why I find the critters fascinating.
Take the javelina, for instance. You're probably thinking, yes, please, someone take the javelinas. They are so ugly that they've begun to look cute - but not so cute when they're knocking over my bird bath or scaring my dogs half out of their minds.
And the bobcats! I'd heard they were gorgeous but had never seen one. One morning I was walking Charlie when he started barking. Turning around, I saw four fine-looking animals. One turned to stare at us. I was enchanted by this elegant creature I assumed was a bobcat.
I found out how wrong I was a few days later when a large rattlesnake decided to coil itself up in front of my door. I'd never seen one of those either so I was oblivious to the danger. When I walked past the snake, it stuck its little tongue out at me. I called 911 and three firemen arrived. After they took the snake away, I told one of them about the bobcats I'd seen.
The fireman asked, "Did they have tails?" Gazing up at him I said, "Oh, yes, long tails and beautiful cat faces." Regarding me as if I had dementia, the fireman shook his head. "Please don't walk your dog up there alone. Those were mountain lions."
Mountain lions? Was I in Africa? So what I perceived as a bobcat showing appreciation for my beautiful dog was really a predator thinking he had found lunch.
The next wonderful thing happened one morning while I was talking to a neighbor. I saw something red shoot out of a tree, like a rocket. It was stunning. My neighbor said it was a cardinal - something else I'd never seen. Have I lived a life of deprivation? On the other hand, I've seen the Rockettes perform at least 35 times.
Anyway, you've probably heard of "Save the whales." I'm doing "Save the quails." In a planter on my enclosed patio a female quail built a nest. Ultimately about 16 tiny adorable baby quail hatched. What joy to see these miniature birds scurrying after their mother.
Lo and behold, the quail are hanging out on my patio, safe from javelinas, bobcats, mountain lions and whatever. I'll miss them when they leave.
Living amongst this wildlife may be old hat to folks who've lived here a long time but I find it thrilling. Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if I opened my door and saw a coyote standing there asking for a sandwich and a beer.
Alexis Powers is a recent transplant to Oro Valley. You can email her at email@example.com or view her website at www.alexispowers.net