For the first time in my 16 years doing Site Steward monitoring of archaeological sites here in Arizona we are closed down. Forest Service, National Park Service, County Lands and BLM areas are closed to the public. Most of our higher altitude parks and picnic areas are closed too.
They rage to the south and northeast of Tucson. Our valley has been filled with smoke for weeks. Our beautiful mountains are haze covered. Our normally azure skies are a milky blue.
The desert landscape looks awful.
Bushes and trees that normally have some semblance of greenery – life – are a withering crispy brown.
Grasses crunch underfoot.
Cacti are withered and look so thirsty!
The Creek that normally flows, at least trickles, near some of the sites we monitor, is dry. I have never seen it totally dry.
The fierce three-day winter freeze, our 20 year drought and our very low humidity of 3-7% with 100°F temperatures have culminated in plants and trees dying. A true trifecta of circumstances! Or is that a quadfecta?
The last time I was out monitoring there was NO moisture in the ground. That means rocks do not hold when one is climbing a hill. They roll down banging into one another.
Hmm. Didn’t early man start fires by getting sparks when they hit two rocks together? They used chert (flint) as I remember.
We have lots of chert!
Catalytic converters on vehicle pose a danger - one spark and the dry grass goes whoosh!
There are houses near-by in the desert ridge tops and if those BBQ grills are not closely monitored or improperly used they can cause fires too.
We are beginning our monsoon season. Usually at the outset we have ‘dry’ storms – big booming claps of thunder and lightning, but no rain.
Lightning is the cause of many of these forest fires. It ranks right up there with human caused.
So home we sit or clean house or read a book - bored and anxious to get “out there.”
The houses are clean - books have been read and we continue to wait.
The sites will wait for us.
There is no rush.
They have been there for a 1000 + years.