Sit down and hang on because this is a roller coaster of a tale. It begins innocently enough. On September 13th, 1924 Charles E. Manier was out for a Sunday drive with his wife Bessie, daughter Ethel, and father J.E. Manier. As they tooled along Silverbell Road north of Tucson (coincidentally, not far from where we live) they espied an old limekiln in the hillside. Curious, they stopped to investigate. While snooping around Charles noticed a metal object sticking out of the hillside. Charles and his father set upon the caliche (a soil layer of calcium carbonate, similar to concrete, that occurs naturally here) and were rewarded with a lead cross, 18 inches long and weighing 64 pounds.
The Maniers took the cross home, cleaned it up, and found a Latin inscription that was shortly thereafter translated by Frank Fowler, a University of Arizona professor, as “Calalus, the unknown land.” While at the University the cross was handled by multiple professors in several departments.
Speculation about the object’s origin ran wild. Could there have been a Roman presence in southern Arizona? Was this evidence of a lost tribe of Israel? Could this be the great find that finally put sleepy Tucson on the world map? We may laugh at those ideas now, but keep in mind this was the era of astonishing discoveries; the richly fabulous tomb of Tutankhamen was uncovered just two years earlier.
After one last winter storm the second weekend of the month, March was warm and dry. Plants frozen back began to bud out, even some I thought for sure were goners put out new leaves. Resilient little buggers. Our Spring wildflower show wasn’t spectacular but it wasn’t half bad. Our yard had a lot less diversity but Scorpionweeds bloomed in large numbers dotted with a few California poppies. The gold discs glowing amongst a bed of purple was quite stunning. A small native bunch grass carpeted our yard; it looked lush and inviting. We enlisted a cadre of desert cottontails to help with the “mowing.”
Lance’s parents were the first to try out our new al fresco dining area created by the back porch extension. The weather cooperated nicely and our luncheon was a success. After the construction work ended Lance and I were finally able to tackle completing our backyard landscaping plan. Out here it makes sense to get as much done as possible before the searing summer heat.
We were excited to finally plant seeds in our raised beds. We have been pleasantly surprised by the success of our smaller garden this winter; lettuce, cilantro, carrots, garlic, and onions sailed through undaunted by the cold temperatures. The morning after every freezing night I would peek out the kitchen window at the frost covered ground and say, “Well, there goes our garden.” Thankfully, I was wrong every single time. We haven’t purchased lettuce in months!
After settling back into our normal routine we made a trip to our local Humane Society. We had finally decided to adopt another cat. It took us a while to make that decision after losing Rookie. The three of us—Lance, Bailey, and myself—had settled into a calm, mellow routine in the past three months. Lance and I were on the fence about adopting another cat and until February, we’d been too busy to do much about it. (For the record, Bailey was adamantly against it.)
Ironically, the impetus for the adoption came from Bailey. In the past few months he’d gained three pounds. Quite a difference for a cat that has weighed 12 pounds his entire adult life. Clearly Bailey needed someone to play with; someone to chase around (or to chase him). Our parameters: young male, not a kitten, but not much over a year old.
A scrawny but healthy orange and white tabby fit the bill. Bailey was the opposite of thrilled when we returned with the kitty that night. To his credit the new guy wasn’t much phased by Bailey’s attitude. Kitty is bowlegged in the front and tends to slouch which makes his legs look really short. We thought of calling him our Cowboy Corgi Kitty but that was too much of a mouthful so we named him Keaton.
We were surprised when our doorbell rang last Monday (we weren’t expecting anybody and our neighborhood is pretty quiet). A man in a hard hat explained that his crew had been sent over by our electric provider to install bird guards on the power pole in our front yard. What a pleasant surprise!
He asked if we’d recently reported a dead raptor which is why they are usually sent out. I shared our awful electrocuted bobcat story. He said he’d never heard of such a thing. Neither had we, neither had we…
I watched as the men very carefully installed insulative boots to the top of the transformer as well as rubber insulation to the bare wires going to and from the transformer. The crew chief provided a play-by-play analysis of the proceedings and he reassured me that our power pole was now bird and critter safe. What a relief!
I appreciate that our electric provider has been utilizing these protective measures on all newly installed poles since 2002. I just wish they would retrofit the existing poles without waiting for an animal to die first. But I know there are tens of thousands of poles under their service area and the cost would be prohibitive. At the very least we are reassured that our power pole will kill no more!