Just one hour from downtown Phoenix, no matter if I arrive at dusk, well after sunset, or midnight, I am always eager to step out of my Subaru onto the rock of the turn-out where I frequently car-camp. The sound of crickets welcomes me to sleep. Birdsong wakes me to the rising run and immediate warmth that it brings.
With every step comes a surprise, something new to discover and observe. I join wrens, hawks, lizards, chipmunks, rabbits, spiders and coyotes on the trail. There are homes made among the rubble of old mine shafts, in the hollow spaces of saguaro, and spanning the paths in hope of catching a small passer by. I fetch a light stick to tease a spider from its home, but it retreats back into its den when my large figure looms. A pair of hawks ride thermals, changing direction with effortless adjustment to the feathers on the very tip of their wings. A quick dive and recovered altitude suggests a potential meal escaped their talons, for now.
The only sounds are those of the breeze, a distant jet, and the rustle of needles, leaves, and stones under lizards feet as creatures scurry at my approach, or to stay cool against the warming sun. The aromas of creosote and cactus blooms mix with the ash of last night’s fire and I am, for this morning, at peace.