Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm back in San Carlos, just after a grazing by Tropical Storm Henriette. we got some wind, much rain, and very little damage.

I recently got a request for more desert photos, so i am dedicating this post to the beautiful Sonoran Desert. Those among you who are more interested in the marine stuff, skip this one but don't give up on me. Soon I will begin construction on the new amas (outriggers)for the Manatee.

San Carlos is in the southern Sonoran desert, in a region of the desert known as the Central Gulf Coast region. Rains here come mostly in the summer. The winter rains which are fairly reliable in the north, particularly around Tucson, Arizona, may not fall here for several years. Despite this, the desert is surprisingly shrubby.

Surprising too, is how dry it can be a few feet from the sea. All that moisture, and it hardly falls on land. This is typical of deserts found in the "Horse Latitudes". The horse latitudes (roughly 30 degrees, north and south of the equator)are a region of descending air, which as it falls, warms and dries. The result is very stable air, with few clouds, little wind, and very little precipitation. And the ability to tie your boat to a cactus.

Much of the Sonoran Desert is in the Basin and Range Province of southwestern North America. Small ranges of moderate to low volcanic mountains rise through a flat basin of volcanic dust and ash. San Carlos is on the seaward edge of the Sierra el Aguaje, a mountain range split with canyons and pushed right up to the sea. The canyons are shady and often have water seeping in from the surrounding porous rock. As a result these canyons often harbour a variety of tropical deciduous forest species, normally found hundreds of kilometres to the south. On the slopes are more typical desert species, such as cacti and agave plants.

Even talk. The pictures were chosen to show the variety of landforms and vegetation. I hope you enjoy them.


Monday, September 17, 2007

I’ve been asked to post more frequently and more regularly, lest my readers lose interest. My philosophy has been to post when I think I have something interesting to say, however rare and random that may be. Please let me know what you think.
Lorena and I are at the cottage, on the shore of Lake Talon; a lake in Northern Ontario. The water is a light tea colour, tinted by the water from the bogs in its catchment area. By mid-August it is already chilly for swimming, and so our daily bath is quick and bracing, but necessary, as there is no indoor plumbing this year.
I awoke last night, for the usual reasons, and peering out through the big front windows, I was struck by a rare and beautiful sight. In the bright moonlight a shroud of silver mist swirled slowly over the still, dark water in little peaks, like ghosts figure-skating in slow-motion over black ice. The nocturnal world seemed filled with magic, and I could only stand and stare in wonder. At such moments, you forget about the cold, and the flies, and all the inconveniences of living in such a place, and are only grateful for the brief moments of awe and wonder. Like the lonely call of a loon, drifting in through the fog, or when a bright green dragonfly with crimson eyes comes to rest on your shoulder as you paddle among the reeds and water-lilies, and you know no deerfly will dare approach to bite your neck. Or the sudden slap of a beaver’s tail, warning his neighbours of your approach as you round a bend in the river. Or the immense silence of a windless day, occasionally broken by the chattering of a red squirrel, or the distant drumming of a grouse. These are the moments that, put together, make life in the bush so rewarding in a way that is difficult to describe to one who has not experienced it for himself. And they are the moments that come back to you in sudden flashes, when you are thousands of miles away, and make you suddenly long for home, for the smell of pine and woodsmoke, for the soft rustle of leaves underfoot, for the immense silence of new-fallen snow.
Meanwhile, hurricane Henriette has hit San Carlos, and we have to wait to assess the damages. First reports are good; it was brief and not too intense. So we are expecting minimal damage. I’ll keep you posted.