Monday, March 11, 2013

a weekend framed by books and a tortoise...and first wildflowers of the year

From an unusually chilly and overcast Saturday morning to a sunny Sunday evening in Saguaro National Park, lots of mobile photo fun this weekend in Tucson...

...beginning with the Tucson Festival of Books, one of the largest book festivals in the country:
 (note the snow coming down on the Santa Catalina Mountains)

...and ending with my first in-the-wild sighting of a desert tortoise:
 More about the tortoise later...

The Festival of Books--so much more than just books--more of a temporary tent-city (on the campus of the University of Arizona--hundreds of organizations and vendors spread out on The Mall) that distills the literary tastes and cultural possibilities of an entire region. Authors from all over the country, cooking demonstrations, national park docents, a food-court-restaurant-village, readings, signings, science-for-children, SW Native American arts...

 Some Tohono O'odham basketry--by artist Della Cruz...

...and Apache flute-playing, in one of the Western National Park tents:

And of course, books. Find your author.
(I got to meet an author I've admired for years: Chang-rae Lee, incidentally.)

And of course, what would a public event on a university campus be,
without some provocative (offensive?) 'free-speech:'


Sunday afternoon, I took my phone with me as I ran the loop-road in Saguaro National Park East.

Hard to believe the place was snow-covered just a couple of weeks ago, now that the first spring wildflowers are coming up--some fairy-duster among the prickly-pear above, and desert bladderpod (member of the mustard family) below:

The carpets of yellow bloom caught my eye and made me get off the trail...
...and that's when I stumbled upon this guy--my first in-the-wild-sighting of a desert tortoise:

Plenty of edible blooms for him...

And, of course, in the park--saguaros.  
Some of these specimens are two centuries old,
weighing many tons...
It takes decades for the first arm to sprout, and then...

 (playing around with black and white, 
warming up the white balance 'temperature,' 
and adding some texture)


Last week, in Sabino Canyon, was when I noted the first wildflowers of the season--a few Mexican gold poppies beginning to appear in the lower canyon...

...and cottonwoods leafing in along the creek--

 (more playing around with monochrome and texture...)
...and even a few ducks in this desert riparian oasis:

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