The Old West

There’s something magical about taking a walk in the desert at sunset.  The moving light casts shadows on the ground that change quickly making you sense the rotation of this earth.  The landscape despite having lived here for years can still at times looks surreal to me.  Like an enchanted land of fairies just beyond what is visible.

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Looking at the backlit landscape I am transported to my idea of the “Old West”.

Saguaros, Chain Fruit Cholla and Teddy Bear Chollas are in abundance.  The Sonoran Desert is not a sandy desert.  There’s plenty of green life here.

Cave Creek still feels like the stereotypical “Wild West” to me.  It’s dreamy to encounter someone on horseback at the 4 way stop sign in the middle of town.

October has always been the month where the weather turns cool.  Cool enough to bring out the hoodies in the evenings and early mornings.  The 50 degree temperature changes register in the body that endured the heat that kept us in tripple digits for an entire summer.

This time of year, the air conditioners get to rest.  The evening temperatures insist that we open the windows that are dusty but less muddy than usual.  The monsoons this year were too dry leaving the plants and the earth parched.  Last month, I noticed that even the leaves of the jojoba bushes in the yard were yellow and leaning towards brown and I was worried that we may lose a few of them.

But it finally rained and everythign is green again.  The Texas sage has bloomed purple.  And even the Ocotillo have started to put out their bright orange flowers.

Nedra is happy that we are taking longer walks.

Nedra---Cave-Creek-Backyard-150

Cali too.

Cali-Cave-Creek-Backyard-142I am grateful to call this place home.

 

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Elephant Butte at Sunset

Tonight’s sunset did not disappoint.  In the following photos, you can see the silhouette of Elephant Butte.

Elephant Butte at Sunset

And, here’s another shot.  This time with a wide angle lens.

Elephant Butte at Sunset

I love Cave Creek AZ.

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Phew, that was close

Tonight, I was saved by my daughter from stepping on a baby rattlesnake.  To give you perspective, it could have fit in the palm of my hand and I have small hands.

We were returning from walking the dog, and the sunset was breathtaking.

cc-sunset-075This time of year, I like to pick the tender pods off the Palo Verde trees and eat the seeds inside.  They are waxy but I like them.  I was distracted in search of a young tender pod in a tree just off the side of the road when she screamed:

“MOM. STOP. SNAKE. STEP BACK.”

In staccato!

“I don’t see it.” I said, stepping back while squinting trying to find the snake.

“Theeeeeeeeeere” she pointed annoyed with me.

I still couldn’t see it.  It really took me a while to spot it.  The light was fading and the snake  was all curled up and blended so well with the ground.

“Phew, that was close.  I didn’t see it.”

“Mom, you really should wear your glasses.  I worry about you.”

I was careful the rest of the way.  Stepping mindfully and forgetting about the Palo Verde pods.  But the scare was not enough for me… I needed a photo.  So after we got back home, I put on my glasses, grabbed my camera and tripod, left the disappointed dog home, and went back for some pictures (of the snake and the sunset).

Click on the images to enlarge them.  In the last one, you can see Venus.

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Finally a long walk at sunset with the pup

The moon was awesome tonight and the weather cool enough to cause me to linger and catch up with my neighbour at the top of her driveway while our dogs played.

With a moon like that, you can be sure that if you hear the sound of police or fire sirens it will be followed by the howling of the coyotes within earshot.  Tonight we were surrounded.  They were too far to see but there were many.  The dogs fortunately stayed close by.

As I started walking towards the wash, I noticed that if I looked right (to the east) the moon was rising and that almost exactly to the west, the sun was setting.  I stopped and took two photos.

Looking East.

Looking West.

 

There’s hardly anything left blooming.  We’re at the end of the summer and everyone is looking forward to the early mornings when we actually get to open our windows again to enjoy the cooler temperatures.

A staghorn cholla bloom surprised me at the end of our walk.

Oh, and the dog is not a pup anymore but to me she will always be.

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Strange Angle Lighting in Cave Creek Sunset

Because of the monsoons, the sunsets in Cave Creek have been amazing.  And, with the cooler weather 90’s instead of 100’s, I have had a chance to take longer walks.

Here’s a photo of yesterday’s very strange looking sunset.  I’ve never seen a straight angle like that before.

I couldn’t capture it on camera but if you followed the line of light, it arched from the west all the way above us and down to the other side on the east.  It was as if the sky was split into two halves.

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Monsoon Skies

It’s monsoon season in the desert; awesome sunsets, thunder and lighting, and if we’re lucky, rain!

You can see the rain coming down in the center of the picture above.  But it was only that one spot…

A few feet further down the road, the skies were cloudy but brighter.

And, less than a minute later, a magical orange glow.  Panning right, (facing south) you can see Black Mountain in the distance…

and in the North West, Elephant Bute after sunset.

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Great Horned Owls Update and Glorious Sunset

Tonight, the two Great Horned Owl youngsters were nestled in a tree together. The sun was setting and the lighting was not ideal but I got to see something that I didn’t expect. In the photo, if you look closely, the owl in the foreground is spitting out an owl pellet.

It was like watching my cat struggle to bring up a fur ball.

It has been amazing watching the baby owls grow into independence.

While photographing them, I feel like I have learned a lot about lighting, photography, and of course owls.

I have mostly used my 55-200mm zoom lens.  Tonight, I noticed that the owl in front has it’s left eye swollen shut.  Hopefully, it’s a minor irritation that will take care of itself.

I plan to monitor the situation…

With the monsoons coming, the sunsets are getting better and better.  Here’s one of my favorite shots from tonight.

I love Arizona sunsets.  No matter how many I’ve seen, they still inspire me.  They demand that I stop whatever it is I’m doing and remind me to take the time to breathe.

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