October 19, 2009 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.
I have often sat and listened to the sounds of the desert while visiting Lost Dutchman State Park or some isolated locale in the Superstition Wilderness Area. The collection of sounds that can be found in or on the desert alluvial fans, flats, spires, and deep canyons and mountains of the Sonoran Desert could fill a symphony hall with hundreds of different sounds and tones, these sound events being very acoustical in the open desert.
This description may not be the most accurate and even sometimes it may be far reaching, however it can give us a special feeling for what the desert is like we live in. The roar of thunder, a blinding flash of light from cloud to ground, followed by the sound of summer hail crashing down on Creosote, Bursage, Mesquite, Palo Verde, Ironwood and the giant Saguaros can ring loud in sensory perception of the desert. This is the opening bar of a “Desert Symphony.”
The pungent odor of the Creosote bush, the smell of the dampened earth, and the cool moist breeze that flows through the Saguaros, Chollas, and Prickley Pears after a desert thunderstorm is musical to one’s ears. This is the body of a desert thunderstorm in the Superstition Mountains.
When the sky clears and the moon shines bright the mountain begins to rumble deep from within the Earth. The Thunder God is awakening to the call of the desert. Some listen carefully and take warning from this mountain roar so far away.
The desert symphony continues to call together its followers. Now we can hear the distant call of a lonely Coyote. The squeal of a terrified Cottontail rabbit echoes through the air. You can hear the hoot of a Barn owl or the screech of a Screech Owl. The buzz of a rattlesnake warns all intruders not to tread on him. The night air is filled with the music of the desert symphony.
The sky turns golden with red streaks as the orb of the sun begins to rise above the horizon. We can still hear the distant call of a Coyote serenading the desert. The call of the quail can be heard through the Jojoba bush. You can hear the melodic call of the Cactus wren, Mourning dove, and the Curve-Bill thrasher. As the sun rises in the eastern sky the symphony’s crescendo is near.
Walking along a path we can see ants scurrying about looking for food. We can see a variety of reptiles crawling from one place to another searching for a meal. Bees are humming about searching for nectar in the cool morning air. As the temperature rises the buzz of Black gnats becomes the resounding echo of the desert. The desert symphony continues to play its way through the various bars of this melody.
We listen careful for even more sounds from our desert symphony. The noisy call of the Black raven and the whistle of the wind through the wing feathers of a Turkey buzzard circling above all add to our desert musical.
Near a desert seep you can hear a frog call to its mate. A Canyon wren chirps out a call to another. A large Chuckwalla searches for food while slowly moving about.
Bees continue to circulate around the water also searching for sweet desert nectar. Water is the root of all survival here in the desert. It is water that keeps the desert symphony sounding its melody. Those who walk these paths through the desert can write their own bars to this beautiful symphony of life in the desert and continue this serenade.
Our love for the desert is tested each day as more and more rooftops dot landscape and our beloved desert symphony slowly disappears.
The day will come when most of the desert is gone with its special collection of animals and those who care. Far beyond our dreams and expectations lies the memory of what was once a unique and very special desert symphony.
But, the call of the wild is still there as it rings across this land.