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Another Rock in my Pocket

rock in my pocketAnother Rock in My Pocket


Last weekend I spent four days in Tucson attempting to improve my medical Spanish. When I was in high school, I had dreamed of living in the desert—mostly because I hated the cold weather of Wisconsin. When it came time for a residency, I chose Georgia—little did I know it was a steamy heat with a daily late afternoon thunderstorm. Now I live in coastal Texas where it can be 100% humidity and NOT raining—but I digress.


I spent the night before my flight at my middle son’s home in northwestern Houston. Solicitously he prepared breakfast for me and arranged for a limo ride to the airport. The flight to Tucson was marred only by the frigid temperature of the airplane.


Tucson is located on a flood plain and is currently crawling into the foothills of the mountains. It is clearly a university town but seems to be easy to get around in. The car rental folks fitted me up with a map, directions to avoid the interstate which was under construction, and a tiny little car.


Class was held in the library of a retirement home. Periodically, the residents would peer through the glass door as if trying to figure out who we were. The lobby had a huge fireplace and a popcorn machine that was fired up each afternoon. The smell of palomitas de maiz (little doves of corn is the literal translation for what we know as popcorn) would waft through the hallways.


My parents always watched a soap opera during lunch time—I got to watch one in the bird world. I presumed that the doves were going through the courting ritual. One bird would sit on the railing. Another one would join her—and ruffle his feathers—I suppose in a similar manner as a human showing off his muscles. A third would fly in—and the two would tussle—but the first one perhaps was playing hard to get—as she would turn her back on him.


Other points of interest included a huge warehouse type fabric store selling fabric by the pound. I managed to escape with only a tiny bag of zippers and beads—thinking ahead of transporting all of this through the airport. Note the self serve dog wash store. Now that I think of it—what a great idea! Fort Lowell was on the way to class; on Saturdays, the swim team trained in the outdoors heated pool. Now that was interesting—the coach and parents were standing by the pool dressed in heavy coats—it was about 50—while the swimmers did laps. I was not close enough or sufficiently agile to snap a photo but I did get the parking lot and the tree wells and a remnant of the adobe walls.


Afternoons were ‘free’ to study and explore the area. The Saguaro National Preserve is to the northwest. It was interesting to compare this desert area to Big Bend. Here there is obviously more rain as the underbrush was quite thick. Saguaros are huge, twenty or more feet tall. Mission San Xavier was another tourist hotspot. Unfortunately the exterior is under renovation so I wasn’t able to get the best photos. The interior is highly decorated and the little museum is quite interesting. The parking lot is huge and has a row of primitive log shelters for family groups preparing fry bread and tamales.


I spent my final afternoon visiting Sabino Canyon. The locals were excited because it was raining as they needed the rain. Part of the canyon drive was closed because of the possibility of flash flooding. Mid afternoon the rain stopped and I took a short hike. About half way up the trail I met a fellow hiker who informed me in whispers that this was prime mountain lion country and he had seen them twice in the past two or three days. Naturally this called for another rock—which you can see at the end of the bench.


The park rangers though informed me that the mountain lions were too well mannered to laugh at guests they thought too silly to eat.


And now I’m home again—and back to work.


More photos can be seen at


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