A Popslider Kind of Morning

PHOENIX – The European Starlings – “Popsliders” – cavort around on the sagauro cactus on the south end of the yard. They take turns being interested in a hole in the cactus where some other kind of bird has made its annual nest. Even a dove flies up and peers in.

The starling is a natural clown. Its body language and posture hint of impish curiosity. It looks like a cartoon of a bird about to tell an off-color joke. This bird has a habit of “ventilating” its wings – holding them slightly out from its body and vibrating them. I have seen film footage of Antarctic penguins doing that.

It amazes me that it took me a year to figure out that THIS was the bird with the distinctive call. I was looking for something a little more furtive and elusive. These brazen clowns are still all over the yard and it is easy to see who is the audio wise-cracker. According to these My Notes chronicles, by Juiy the starlings will be pretty well gone for the summer.

The sky retains a white filmy cast from yesterday evening’s dust storm. It is turning less blue. It is possible we’ll have another dust storm. Yesterday our plane was put on a brief weather hold 30 miles west of Phoenix while the storm cleared the airport. I could see hundreds of dust devils on the west side of the valley, some towering thousands of feet into the air with their load of red dirt and sand. I noticed that most or all of these originated in vacant industrial lots. If it is this easy to see where all that dust is coming from, it’s surprising to me that Phoenix has not had effective erosion control programs for these areas. A dust storm is not just ugly and messy; it’s dangerous and costly.

Here in the back yard, we have our one remaining area of untamed sediment. It used to be a lawn of the tough local tiff grass, but due to the drought years we let it go. When I retire here, I’ll have to start planting with desert landscaping, and bring in a truckload of crushed rock for ground cover.

A woodpecker-ish bird alights on a palm tree trunk and calls out in a distinctive language I could not possibly imitate. Apart from the profusion of birds in the back yard, it is quiet here. No sirens or honking horns, no roar of rubber on high speed asphalt boulevards and freeways. I realize that I am actually relaxed and happy, a welcome feeling.

It is nice that Spring is actually here. The warmth, after six weeks of rain up north, is welcome; it’s 65 degrees out, climbing later to the 80’s or low 90’s. Definitely “shorts weather”. I banged my arm last week and the pain had been most unpleasant; the warmth down here seems to be making a big difference. This haven in Phoenix is a place where one can forget a lot of things and just enjoy what we have. There’s the sound of Mr. Popslider again. My friends, it’s good to be here.

608 total views, 1 views today