A Sycamore and a Storm

Saturday morning I had planned to make a short visit to the Farmer’s Market in Warren, which is a part of Bisbee which lies on the far side of that yawning moonscape, the Lavender Pit. I thought I would buy some chile peppers and tomatoes and possibly talk with people, but I didn’t plan to stay long. On a whim I threw my fiddle in the truck, as you never know — I could meet another musician sharing that yen to jam a bit.

As I passed the display of healthy native plants and trees offered by Spadefoot Nursery, a local concern, I was intrigued by a group of lush-looking Arizona Sycamore trees.

“How old are those trees?”, I asked the proprietor.

“They are first year seedlings, and they’ve been doing remarkably well.”

Fifteen bucks seemed to be a bargain, so I bought a four-foot-tall baby sycamore.

I ended up staying at the market for over three hours. The singer who was scheduled to perform hadn’t showed up, so I played the fiddle with two friends who happened to be there, a banjo player and a mandolinist/guitarist. We had a good time, and I made enough money in tips to pay for the tree and a bag of chili peppers and okra too! A nice serendipitous morning.

I knew rain was forecast for today, but I figured it would come in the afternoon. It seemed like a good day to plant a tree, as the sky was cloudy and the temperature cool. I drove out into the Sulphur Springs Valley, hoping the lane to our cabin would be passable. I was a bit dubious when I saw water pooled and mud deposited on North Frontier Road — how much rain had fallen out there?

I drove through several washes on the mile-long road back to the cabin. The contours of the land had changed as sheets of run-off had re-sculpted the surface of the road. Then I had to stop, as the water had carved out a hole in the road big enough to seize a tire. I walked back to the cabin, got a shovel and a bucket, and filled that hole with sand and gravel.

When I got to the cabin the rain gauge showed two and a quarter inches, quite a substantial rain! Digging the hole for the tree was quick and easy in the moist soil. I didn’t even have to use the mattock! Here’s a shot of the sycamore after I’d fenced around the tree, using half-inch re-bar as posts. Javelinas and deer shouldn’t be able to bother that tree!


A shot of the healthy native tree from above:


The valley can be windy, too hot or too cold, and bleak at times. In some ways, especially compared to Bisbee’s moderation in all things climatic, the valley can be a harsh environment, but this is often offset by utterly spectacular skies. From our place you can see for thirty miles in some directions, eighty in others. Often several rain showers are visible at once. Cumulus clouds ascend in mighty pillars or anvil-shaped formations, and sometimes the cirrus clouds are delicately arranged in exquisite patterns.This blue rift in the clouds above the Mule Mountains caught my eye:


Looking south along our lane:


As I was driving back to Bisbee along Double Adobe Road I just had to pull over and shoot some photos. The southern arm of the Mules looked so verdant where the sun was peeking through the clouds:


Looking towards Bisbee it seemed likely that rain was falling. The town is right behind the mountain which is almost obscured by clouds and rain in this shot:


As I drove into town torrential rain was falling. The streets were inches deep in flowing water and cars left rooster-tail spray in their wakes. I stopped to get my mail at the post office and managed to become completely drenched during the short run in and then back to my truck. But I did get our tree planted, and I didn’t get my truck stuck!

Addendum: I was lucky to get out there before the storm this afternoon! here’s a photo from the Cochise County Road Department of Frontier Road this afternoon:



6 comments on “A Sycamore and a Storm

  1. Rain Trueax says:

    Your stories so make me want to be back in Arizona. I love the monsoons there. Great photos of fantastic skies 🙂 We planted one of those around our pool area and when we get back it’ll be interesting to see if it made it. That’s the iffy part of not being somewhere for months.

  2. Leslie says:

    Quite the nice summer day you had, Larry! That sycamore tree looks healthy and ready to do some serious growing. Love those cloud and storm shots. You painted a pleasant word picture to read.

  3. Larry Ayers says:

    It’s still raining here in Bisbee this evening. Quite the monsoon season we’ve been having!

    Thanks for your comments, Leslie.

  4. bev says:

    Wow, such great photos! That sycamore looks so healthy and looking big for its age. I hope it does well and that the varmints don’t bother it. Maybe they aren’t so desperate to attack things at this time of the year. Wonderful sky shots. I love that one of the blue rift between clouds. Looks like some kind of portal to another world!

  5. Larry says:

    Just looking at random pictures online, I saw your mule mountain pics, and I instantly recognized the area. I grew up there for a couple of years. I don’t know if High Lonesome Road sounds familiar too you. I really liked that area. Furthermore, I heard there are a lot of people starting to move back there. Is this true?

  6. Larry Ayers says:

    This is a popular locality for retirees, as the climate is wonderful (ten months out of the year) and property values are low. Not many jobs, though.

    I live about four miles east of High Lonesome Road, just a mile west of Frontier Road.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *