Sonoran Desert Experience…thru “lens & pen!”
Hi … I’m Cyndy Warnier, the Program & Development Director here at Spirit in the Desert. I am the shutter-bug of the photos you see on our website. I am also a lover of the desert, and along with my husband, Al who also works here and is an arborist, study the desert through my lens as well as through forums to learn about its unique flora and fauna. So, from my “lens & pen”–welcome to a “Sonoran Desert Experience!” Each month I will post an article, with pictures-of course, about life in this beautiful and diverse desert. Birds, mammals, reptiles…even an arachnid or two, plus a variety of plants whose botany is specific to Arizona’s portion of the Sonoran Desert–and all whose existence are endangered. And just so you know…our bookstore features many of my photos in a variety of matted sizes, as well as on 5×7 photo cards, complete with all occasion sayings. You can always “take away a bit of the desert” in my pictures to remind you of your stay at Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center.
The Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) has lived in the Mojave and Sonora Deserts of California, southern Nevada, Arizona, SW Utah and Mexico for thousands of years! Our Native peoples call them the “soul of the desert” and sadly this hurting gentle soul is becoming threatened…mostly by human encroachment. Clear-cutting creosote/desert habitats for housing, poaching, grading desert land for farming, climate change, litter and 4-wheelers are the main culprits in the demise of the Desert Tortoise. So how important is a tortoise to our desert? Below are just a few points of how critical this gentle soul is to our desert … I urge you to read more on the topic as education is what will keep them from disappearing.
- Because of their innate ability to dig into and through just about anything, they help the ecology that is “below the desert floor.”
- Their burrows create a subterranean environment that is beneficial to other reptiles, mammals, birds and invertebrates. A loss of the Desert Tortoise would create a loss of habitat for so many other desert critters.
- Their symbolism … of the earth, long life, protection, fertility, healing, spirituality, and wisdom from their slow and deliberate tempo of life which is a mirror of our native peoples chosen way of living. To them, the Turtle represents Mother Earth. In the Southwest, to our Navajo and Hopi it represents water, a jewel in the desert for all life.
Below is a picture of Bucky … (our affectionate name for her) at Buckskin State Park in Parker, AZ. What a mascot–she loves apples, melons, and especially cheddar cheese … I’m thinking since I’m from Wisconsin, she just could be a Packer’s “Cheese-head!” (sorry, it’s the cheese!) I would love your feedback on this page, including pictures, thoughts, etc. I’ll leave you with a thought from the turtle … Slow and steady wins the race. ~ Aesop (620 BC – 560 BC)