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The Desert, Up Close and Personal

Hello, my name is Jean Warren. We came to Phoenix, Arizona in early 1981 from North Eastern PA. We had lived in Cedar Rapids, IA prior to that. We moved to the high desert near Congress in 1991. I teach computer classes as well as digital photography among other things out of my home office. My husband Terry, works at the Palo Verde Nuclear Facility. There are a number of folks from our area that work out there. Some coming as far away as Chino Valley.

I have been fascinated with the desert since I was a child. My parents used to vacation in Arizona and surrounding states in the early 60’s. We lived in California at the time and came from the East, New Jersey among other states.

It seemed that there were so many big trees you never saw much of the sky there. Everything looked so….. so…. green. One of the most striking reasons to live in Arizona is the beauty of looking at the sky.

There is so much of it to see! From spring rain storms to the most spectacular skies during monsoon season, to the occasional snow covered mountains in winter. The contrast of seasons is specific to our area.

Desert Willow
The Desert Willow Tree looks pretty from a distance…

Desert Willow
…then when you get close and see the bloom it takes your breath away.

I have always been amazed at the diversity of the plants and the wildlife that are found here in this great place. We are truly lucky to be offered so much eye candy.

In two years time the old adage of “wet years bring wildflowers” and “dry years bring the cacti and desert to life” has never been so true. Having lived in Arizona for 25 years, we have seen three wet seasons, and two droughts. I must laugh at the thought of that, as so many people freak out when there is a drought.

I’m not saying we all shouldn’t be concerned with conserving water resources, but the thing is everything is based on averages. When looking at it that way, it’s pretty much life as usual around here as it all balances out over the long haul.

The wildflower season of 2005 was truly spectacular. I can’t begin to tell you how many photographs I took of the Wildflowers. However 1999 was really great too, it was touted as “the best wild flower season in years”. We drove to Picacho Peak near Casa Grande to see all the exceptional blooms. Oh yeah, then there was 1991! In our yard after the worse “El Nino” winter, we had every conceivable type of wildflower there. It was a virtual sea of purple and yellow flowers. Remember, those were the two 100 year floods in the same year!

Pretty much if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes and it will change. Enjoy those changes, as we are lucky enough to witness the miracle of desert weather.

I read an article recently about “Phoenix wilting in record drought, Even cactuses are dying for lack of precipitation”, from Friday, March 10, 2006 New York Times News Service By Michael Wilson.

Two days later the 143 day drought ended with a record 1.40 inches of rain in Phoenix. Of course it made a difference of where you lived, if you saw rain or not. We were fortunate to have rain a few times in our area during the “big drought of 2006”. This year has been one of the most beautiful that I can remember though for desert vegetation. If you were lucky enough to go look at the Saguaro’s, Chollas and Ocotillo and all the desert trees in bloom in the past month, you would agree that a dry year occasionally is truly magnificent and should be enjoyed.

Saguaro Blossoms
Ocotillo Flowers
Saguaro and Ocotillo blooms against sky.

The March article stated that it was so dry people hadn’t seen any baby quail or bunnies. Well, Mom Nature is pretty smart. She just had everyone hold on a little longer in Phoenix I guess. There are more bunnies than you can shake a stick at and plenty of baby quail running around here too. I’ll share those photos with you soon. A little reconnaissance of my photos and the dates I took them in the last couple of years, I see that they really aren’t late, they are here about the same time as last years crop of new creatures.

That is what makes it so wonderful to live here. The diversity of nature.

Last 5 posts by Jean Warren

4 comments to The Desert, Up Close and Personal

  • Linda Guzman

    I’m interested in taking computer classes. What classes do you offer? I recently retired (August 06)from 31 years at a local refinery here in Billings. I used a computer there, but used their “canned” programs plus excell, word, etc. After retiring I bought laptop and am interested in learning more about internet, and being able to hook up to WiFi. I just got home from spending 10 days in Wickenburg. Plan to go back during cold weather (Jan, Feb & Mar) of 2007.

    Please send information.


    Linda Guzman
    Billings, MT

  • Jean


    I tried to email you but you must allow a response from me. Or email me directly


  • cheryl

    please make your pictures bigger for viewers to draw

  • […] sometime in March. The days aren’t too much warmer, but the nights seem to be. Desert plants start to bloom or send out new branches or other growth. It gets very dry — April is normally the driest month here. By April, the days and nights […]