“I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me — I am happy.” — Hamlin Garland, McClure’s, February 1899
Point of Interest for a Non-Wandering Wanderer
Ramsey Canyon, south of Tucson, is one of North America’s hottest birding spots – but not in November. In November, it is just a delightful place for a hike and a delicious feast for the eyes.
My son Lewis and I got to the Nature Conservancy visitor center early, and paid our $6 to gain access to the canyon. The first two amazing things I noticed different from the usual Sonoran Desert landscape was water in the form of a spring-fed stream bubbling down the canyon — and trees, lots of tall, stately giants, and broad-branched monarchs that made me want to clamber up into their arms.
Lewis said it was the trees, which Tucson lacked, that kept me oohing and ahhing almost continually.
But we have trees in Tucson, I said.
“Not like these, or this many,” he replied
He was right. While my apartment complex does have a few, out-of-habitat and bedraggled evergreens, and a few black olive trees, most of the ones I see around Tucson are short mesquites and leafless, green-trunked palo verdes. .
Growing tall and regal between Ramsey’s Canyon walls were maples and sycamores. The towering and mottled-white limbs of the sycamores were enchanting, as were the autumn leaves of the maple trees, sights I don’t normally see in Tucson proper.
Located in the Huachuca Mountains, the canyon is renowned for its scenic beauty, its diversity of plants, and the birds that visit it in the spring and summer. The one other time I visited it, about eight years ago on an April day, I went for the birds – and was not disappointed. While I only saw a few birds this trip, I was still not disappointed.
The Ramsey Canyon hike is only a mile up and back, although hikers can add some length to the trail by continuing on to the top of a ridge, which Lewis did. I chose to hike back down canyon slowly, taking time to breathe in Mother Nature’s beauty and to take some photographs.
As I crossed a bridge near a splash and play area, I was rewarded with the sight of a pair of painted redstarts. I felt that Lewis, also an avid birder, would be put out that he hadn’t seen them. Thankfully the bird wouldn’t be a lifer for him. And when I told him about the redstart, he was too happy he had seen an Arizona woodpecker, which was a lifer, to envy my sighting.
Bean Pat A Window into the Woods http://tinyurl.com/k2wrq5a Now that my son, Lewis, is back home in Texas, these are birds he can see every day.