When hubby and I bought our ranch back in 2004, we knew only that we were fleeing big-city life for nearly 40 acres of desert wilds. Sure, we noticed the normally dry wash that crossed right over our new driveway. Couldn’t miss it. And we wondered how much fun we’d have keeping it passable when the wash decided to flow. But one look at the mountain views, and we were hooked.
At the time, we didn’t know what it really meant to have a wash running through our property – dry or churning, intact or washed out. I can’t recall who said it, but I was told, “Oh yes, you’ve got an animal superhighway running through your place with that wash out there. It’s an animal corridor.”
Ding. Ding. Ding. Lucky jackpot! We had no clue that the kind of geography surrounding us was going to provide so many wildlife-viewing opportunities.
Then, of course, there are those lucky breaks with my photography and my wildlife ‘subjects’ (though maybe it isn’t considered luck when you snap 50 photos and deem only two or three of decent quality). There’s also the luck of being in the right place at the right time: in our backyard, witnessing two pair of red-tailed hawks screeching, screaming, and calling to one another.
And then there’s the luck of moving a hair this way, a few steps that way, and gaining an entirely new perspective:
Finally, there are the accidents afforded simply by virtue of our proximity to the wash. This weekend, I was ridding our porches of copious amounts of bat guano from our endangered nectar-eating bats (who’d finally moved toward South America in anticipation of winter) when I heard a raspy chirping noise. I released the nozzle of the hose and listened, assuming I was hearing the bird I couldn’t identify earlier that morning.
But then my eye caught movement on the hill and I heard the methodic calling. Over and over. A bobcat. A meow-chirp. With urgency. I watched her trek up the hill and slip under the fence. That’s when I saw something in the arm of a nearby 20-foot tall saguaro. I looked again. Fur. What? The fur moved. The fur turned toward me and put its paws down the trunk of the spiny cactus, head first. It leapt like a flying squirrel into the spiked branches of a small palo verde tree below. I heard nothing for minutes. I saw nothing. And then it emerged … a smaller bobcat, hot on mama’s trail!
I’d only ever seen photos of bobcats and mountain lions perched on saguaros. And I didn’t get any photos myself to prove that they really aren’t PhotoShopped. (I am thankful, by the way, for the opportunity to be present in the moment and not fumbling with a camera, which later inspired some 500 words of fiction). What incredible luck to be outside. That morning. At that moment. I still don’t know how big cats withstand that kind of puncturing on the paw pads, and I marvel.
I marvel at the role of the lucky breaks in our lives (like the times we did capture bobcat activity on video and on film). Like the luck of having my camera ready at the precise moment the sun was coming over the hills last week:
… Like buying a property that had a glorious wash running through it.
For Writers, Readers, Everyone: Have you ever lucked out in your life? Have you ever lucked out in your writing or your literary career? Have plot points come to you from the blue? Did a single experience spur an entire novel concept? I am reminded of my friend, Natalia Sylvester’s recent post about the magic that is storytelling… or is it simply luck?