Thursday, February 21, 2013

SNOW in Tucson! School, Sabino Canyon, and Saguaro National Park

During the work-week, I am a teacher...

...and so, yesterday in Tucson, when the rain began to change over to snow, I just had to let my students go outside. For this particular young woman--originally from Africa--it was the first time she'd ever seen the white stuff falling from the sky:
Snow in Tucson is a rare treat; the last time kids in this desert city enjoyed it was six years ago, before I moved here. 

As it began to accumulate, the only sane and humane thing for me to do was to let them go outside and have a snowball fight:
By mid-afternoon, the clouds had begun to lift;
I went for a hike in Sabino Canyon after work--
the lower-elevation snow was melting quickly... 

...but then the clouds began to roll back in...

...and by dinner-time, it was snowing--AND sticking--again.

It snowed for most of the evening.

So, this morning, I got up early and drove out to Saguaro National Park East, (about a 15 minute drive from where we live), hoping that if I got there before the sun came up, I'd beat the melting.

I got my wish. 

For years, I've wanted to see the rare spectacle of a snow-covered saguaro-forest...
The timing was perfect: today and tomorrow are school-holidays--it's the annual Tucson Rodeo/Fiesta de los Vaqueros. It might have been overpoweringly tempting to call in sick, had I not already had the day off...
You might get snow down in the Tucson basin, oh, maybe once a decade or so. The mountains get blanketed several times each winter, but it's rare that the snow-line drops below three- or four-thousand feet...

Frosted ocotillos looking so wintry...
...but look closely: you'll see the new spring leaf-buds under the snow:

As soon as the sun rose over the ridge of the Rincon Mountains,
I could hear the drip-drip-drip of the melting begin...
Sun, snow, and saguaros...
By mid-day, the blanket of white was a memory...

So ephemeral, snow in the desert...
Next time--when? 

It might be years from now.
By then, who knows what mobile photography will be like?

[For more snow-in-the-desert-photos (non-iphone), 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

African Art Village, Bull in the Neighborhood, Winter Skies over the Canyon

There's been plenty of visual fodder for iphoneography here in Tucson the past few days...

                   ...starting with where I went last Friday after work: the African Art Village:

For about two decades now, this city in the Sonoran Desert has become a February gathering place for artists and vendors from all over Africa: for a couple of weeks, a tent city pops up and about a hundred vendors set up shop. 
 Associated with the six-decade-old tradition of the international Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase, this is one of the largest gatherings of its kind in North America.

A small outdoor kitchen serves up Lamb stew, rice and plantains so you can get a taste of West Africa before or after browsing. 

There's something for almost everyone--from strands of beads for jewelry-makers to monumentally-sized sculptures, and of course, tie-dye clothing. Furniture from Mali, textiles from Burkina Faso, totems from Sudan, sculpture from Côte d'Ivoire, Zulu baskets, reproductions of Bénin bronzes and masks from across the continent--all in one place.

The rest of the year, 
it's a nondescript desert lot behind a Waffle House 
adjacent to the Interstate highway--
but every February, it's a polyglot bazaar.

This year it's running through February 17th.

Closer to home, on my side of town...
...about a five-minute-drive from where I live, there's a little stretch of semi-rural road that feels like elsewhere--the water table is higher and the mesquite bosques are dense, and a pecan orchard complements the pines and eucalyptus...sheep, cows, horses--it's bucolic and tucked away, and on my way home from the grocery store Saturday, I thought I'd take the scenic detour.

Check out those horns! 
(used PicFrame app for this triptych)

By mid-morning Saturday, the winter storm clouds were lifting--
this is what the oasis at Agua Caliente Park looked like:
Sunday afternoon, I took my iPhone with me on my run in Sabino Canyon--good time for sunflares:

This time of year, the skies over the canyon are so often dramatic:

There's a particular spot at the mouth of the canyon where I like to run by some cottonwoods;
back in mid-December, when the autumn leaves were still hanging on, the evening sky really lit up the scene:

--a fun spot to go back to, to see how the scene would look at about the same time of day a couple of weeks later:
 --and now, finally, all the leaves are off--winter trees-and-sky always a nice subject for monochrone, and here, a bit of the 'grunge' filter:
And last one for tonight--from a little hike my wife and I did last night to a spot overlooking the Canyon: