Monsoon: The Desert Springs Back to Life: Part III

Summer 2006


Another Monsoon Day

This morning, I am compelled to walk out the old jeep trail behind my house and take some pictures. I’m chronicling the rebirth of the desert in progression and recording the blooms of the monsoon plants for myself. The desert around my house has been transformed into a grassy meadow.

The monsoon here is world renowned for its lightning storms. For my first decades in Tucson there was a consistency. Each evening, a black wall of water would make its way up from Mexico in the southeast. When I was young, my mother would time dessert to it. We would sit and enjoy ice-cream on the front porch watching it come in. As the valley was engulfed and darkened below us, bolts of lightning would begin to dance. Gigantic fingers would cross the sky. Some bolts would stretch across the entire valley for miles with rolling thunder following. Thunder would come in constant volleys.

Since 1989, this is no longer a consistent pattern, but still, thunder will make us jump up in bed, flashes with the immediate explosion of a cannon will send chills up my back. I now sit in Tortolita and watch it fall off of the great Catalina Mountains. Warm rains will pelt us sideways. Glorious rains will have me running outside naked, feeling particularly alive.

I notice that a small wash had been widened and filled with sand from the flow from the rains, making it more accessible. I go for it.

I take the natural trail up about a mile, until I run into a neighbor’s home. The sand is freshly deposited. The receding meanders are virgin to my now bare feet. Only a few smaller feet have tracked before me.

Perhaps made by a tortoise, or perhaps another wild neighbor?

The tracks are apparent.

Snake Track

I discover tadpoles from the Colorado River Toads, which are the ones people suck to extract the hallucinogenic poison. These are the ones that make dogs sick. There are cute little waterfalls, and rocks to lay and sun on. Everywhere, there is the amazing thick vegetation that comes out and covers a seemingly barren drought ridden landscape, when the rains return.

An Early Washout

On the way back, my nose catches a whiff of a large wild animal. It is a cat. The breeze isn’t much. To figure the direction, I use my nude body, which is perspiring in the sun from the extra monsoon humidity. I am able to be aware of wind direction without moving.

I get still and scan and I wait. I have my camera ready, as I stand still, sniffing the air. I don’t want to disturb the nature by flushing it out. Besides, if it isn’t a bobcat, it could be a mountain lion. I don’t want to disturb a mountain lion, they’re big, dangerous and I don’t know enough of their behavior. Sorry, there is no grand climactic ending here. There is no great photo trophy to display. I got tired of standing still sweating, and then a cat, I’m sure, has much more patience than I do.

Late in the Monsoon, we are visited by a rattlesnake. It squirms, still attempting to bite even though its head is missing. Not everything is so comfortable in the richness of the desert.

The iconic Barrel Cactus is the cactus that we are told to cut open when there is no water. It may be one of the worse choices for that. There is a covering of tough spines; the skin is thick and difficult to get through. The obvious shape gives them their name. They have gorgeous blooms. Most people don’t realize that their blooms may vary dramatically, even in just one location.

Everywhere we go, there are more flowers during monsoon.

A Jumping Cholla Flower

My monsoon stories just go to show the advantage of nudity in the wild. We are natural beings and clothing restricts us and our senses, as we are meant to know them. Our awareness is more than visual cues. We are being robbed by our society of our very right to be ourselves. All I can say positive about the social/legal restrictions is that they put us in a stealth hunter/prey type frame of mind at times, as a stealth naturist. We are warriors in nature, too.

One doesn’t associate mushrooms with a desert, especially exploding mushrooms.


As this monsoon season continues, I’ll add more short anecdotes. DF (Desert Flower) and I, also have a more recent photo article to celebrate this season. One day, I’ll publish it, too.

The next post will continue this year’s birthday celebrations. We’ll report on a new place, an easily accessible nature conservation area, that made us feel like a sort of Adam and Eve in Eden.

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3 thoughts on “Monsoon: The Desert Springs Back to Life: Part III

  1. Very sad that someone killed the snake.


  2. Very very sad! I have had to murder a few and each time, I literally have had tears. We do service and place them in the desert on an alter and they disappear by morning, chain of life.

    I have nearly stepped on them, just in my yard, about once each year for twenty years. I wonder when my luck runs out. I have to look under furniture before sitting down, carry a flashlight unfailingly, be alert for danger and know fear outside without the comfort of this being my home. I have been fortunate to have a bull snake here for the last few years. It keeps rattlers away, but still transgressors will stop and browse its territory. They scare the crap out of me each time and I realize that I have just been lucky.

    There are four types of rattlers in the Tortolitas.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. coolbrzy

    I nearly stepped on a rattler hiking nude up Mt Junipero Serra in CA. I loved the hike and amazing views but jumped back that day as I heard the rattle and glimpsed it dive down a hole. A close call, too close for comfort.

    The Las Padres N.F has the largest population per square mile of mountain lions in the world.
    They are reclusive and generally shy away from humans, with notable exceptions: 1. Any rabid animal will attack for no other reason. 2. A lone human, especially ill, injured or after dark is potential prey. 3. Any animal can become accustomed to human contact, esp one raiding trash or eating pets. 4. Wounded animals.

    Any puma or lynx has excellent senses, such as smell and hearing. Unless you are downwind and quiet, they will know you are in the vicinity long before you are aware of their presence. Mountain lions attack from behind and above, where we are most vulnerable. Should you encounter one, stand your ground, raise your arms to look as large as possible, make noise and slowly back up. Never turn your back or run. Lastly, I wear bug spray when hiking alone in cougar country… I want to smell like the worst tasting meal possible. 😉


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