Arizona Thriller

Arroyo Wildflowers photographed by Jeff Zablow at White Mountains Regional Park, AZ

There are so many startling views when the boy from Brooklyn cum Pittsburgh hikes through the low mountains of White Tank Mountains Regional Park. This Ain’t Beaver County, Pennsylvania. The sense of excitement rises and falls as I make my way around the boulders that floor the arroyo that I’ve traversed on at least 3 trips west. We have Black bear and bobcat here. Truth be told I’ve never seen either in these last 13 years in the field. After successfully navigating Brooklyn in my teens and NYC later on, you do kind of get a little cocky, kinda like Mr. Pesci of the movies.

But here in the arroyo, there could be mammals and reptiles and insects and birds and arachnids that I’ve never gone toe to toe with. That added real spice and expectation to this region. Many years ago I visited a refuge roughly  northwest of Sun City West. It was in the  desert, but was unique, with a small stream running through it. That available moisture sustained an unusual community of plants and animals. That morning I had it in my head that I wanted to photograph peccary, native smallish wild pigs. I chose an open spot on the bank of this stream, because across the stream, opposite me was a small beach-like embankment. If peccary came early that morning  to drink, I’d get them with my long lens.

So I sat there for about an hour, motionless,  waiting. It was just luscious there, beautiful. Then my thinking (I’m  always thinking) moved to OMG! Isn’t this Arizona? Haven’t I had my back (in my formative years in Brooklyn, you always had to know who/what was behind you) to thousands of acres of wild Arizona for about an hour. I remembered the very recent news stories, reporting tragic cougar incidents in not too far away California. A CHILL shot down my spine. I sprung up from my claimed spot. Forget peccary. This is new territory, son.

Now this image has tickled my memory for some time. I should have marked it when the slide was developed. It was March, my wife’s battle with Cancer had worsened. I was a Mess. This was much needed change of scenery. So much here was brand new to me. Did I see butterflies nectaring on these blooms? No. Back to that same note. I was there to work to reconstruct myself and photograph butterflies in arid Arizona. This wildflower introduced itself to me. I was much impressed with its beauty and form. I shot away with fair result. Beauty is very therapeutic.