Thursday, July 16, 2009

Idyll Wild

Yeah, it's been fiercely hot here for a week now. This part of Arizona has been experiencing daily temperatures of over 110° which, as you can imagine, is almost debilitating. One can tolerate 100° pretty easily with ample water and a good attitude, but once the air temperature exceeds 105°, the heat can no longer be kept from creeping into your body. I have no idea how the natives such as the Pima Indians (Sonoran Desert dwellers) managed to survive these summers.

And, I like to point out, that the air might be 110°, but the ground temperature can be over 130°. This time of year, one must proceed thoughtfully.

With a friend, I spent one of these blistering days hiking in a semi-wooded canyon. The creek, mostly dry, had pockets of algae-filled water where minnows huddled together. We saw a horse-hair worm that was approximately 6" long, swimming languidly through one of the pools. Ah, parasites, they haven't a care in the world!

We also saw a beautiful fishing spider (Dolomedes sp.) floating on a piece of bark in a pool, gnoshing on some insect. (Pictured above. Be sure to click on it to enjoy the full spectacle.) These spiders live around creeks and lakes and have the ability to dive under water where they can capture small fish and insects. You will notice in the photograph that while the spider was busy eating, a water strider strode by within dangerous proximity. Normally, that spider would eat that strider.

Beneath the trees there were many birds, including a summer tanager who perched nearby. Above the trees, zone-tailed hawks (possibly black hawks) swept over and made their shrieking calls. Net-wing beetles, honey bees, dragonflies, and butterflies all decorated the sweltering day.

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