The beauty of the desert – Gabriel Mogollón

In the Sonoran Desert, the most valuable commodity is water. When the summer monsoons come to bring water to the desert, the most beautiful and amazing smell engulfs the desert. It is the smell of the water condensing on the little red creosote leaves as the humidity climbs in preparation for the storm. The creosote leaves have a waxy substance eating them to preserve water during droughts but when the wax comes into contact with moisture (i.e. increased humidity) it releases the smell every Tucsonian recognizes as the coming of the rain. Once it has rained, all of the animals come out of hiding, either to drink or to hunt those who’ve come out for the water. All of the plants open their leaves and the bleak brownish tint that is commonplace for the desert is replaced with a brilliant array of colors from the green leaves, the blue and white flowers, and the aquamarine agaves. Other than just the smells and colors of the desert, the sound of the desert endures a distinct shift as well. The toads start bleating, the cicadas start screeching, the dragon flies start humming, and the hummingbirds begin chirping. The sound of the desert is something to behold and the sensual experience that comes with the monsoons is truly amazing. 

One particularly rainy morning, I went out with a small group of other interns where we hiked up Madrona Canyon in search of dragonfly larvae. We were collecting their larvae to test the mercury levels in the pool since dragonfly larvae are relatively high on trophic levels within small pools like these so they accumulate mercury. While we were hiking up the canyon in search of these larvae, I was struck by how beautiful it was. There was a fairly large pool nestled under a sheer cliff. The pool was full of cattails and grasses. The dragonflies and bees hummed and buzzed about. In the water swam frogs, tadpoles, and every type of aquatic insect you could think of. The cliff face was covered in assorted colors of mosses and vines. This little sanctuary was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and I was only able to appreciate it for what it had to offer thanks to this amazing internship.

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