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Desert Life : Borrego Summer
This article was originally published in The Sand Paper, the membership
newsletter of the
Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association
Did you just hear the sigh
of relief? We desert dwellers hear it every year at this time. The sigh?
It’s the sound of the desert preparing for the long hot days and balmy
nights of summer. The snowbirds have flown. Visitors and tourists from
cities are flocking in droves to the beaches or to national recreational
parks or state parks having moderate summer temperatures. Borrego Springs
is an entirely different place during this time of year.
But, summer in Borrego is a special time. Residents are mulling over
inside summer activities and chores. In fact, just a hardy few (many of
them Europeans) will decide to hike or play in the desert during the
summer season. For the people who live here, life is slow. No guilty
feelings. Read a book or watch a movie, who cares? Take a nap, or perhaps
it’s time to take an on-line class or research a topic you have never had
time to delve into, or twelve other options of your own choice! Swamp
coolers are economical and are adequate to keep inside temperatures
comfortable during most summer months. Overhead fans are also economical
and, in our opinion, are worth their weight in gold. The swamps supply the
coolness; the fans supply air motion, which makes an 80-degree inside
temperature very comfortable during the dry summer months. When humidity
rears its ugly head (usually in August), we find it is often cheaper to
take a vacation than to stay home and use the conventional air
conditioner. If we do go on vacation, we look forward to going, have a
good time while there, but always experience a contentment and excitement
upon returning to Borrego.
The desert uses the summer season
as a time to rest and repair itself. Some desert animals spend the entire
season resting in cool underground burrows. Plants shed their leaves and keep
their energy stored awaiting the first drops of moisture. The wind wafts sand
over tracks made by off-road vehicles and covers footprints in the washes and
on the trails. Summer rains or even a hurricane can drench, cleanse, and
change the landscape drastically. During the night, the silence is dramatic;
moonlight bathes the scene with a subdued soft glow, and on dark nights the
stars twinkle with an intensity that is unbelievable. It is then the night
activity begins. Coyote on the prowl, bobcat hunting, black widow sitting on
the web–myriads of night creatures scurry here and there. You can actually say
the night life is wild during Borrego summertime.
Summer season cannot repair all things, however. Though plants and animals are
adapted to live in this sometimes hostile environment, there is also a great
fragility here. Poachers have been apprehended collecting reptiles during
summer nights along almost-deserted highways. Entire fields, once plowed, very
seldom renew themselves with the same type vegetation once found there. As
evidence, observe the area looking south toward Glorietta Canyon. You will see
several “square areas” of different vegetation. What do you think may have
happened to cause that? Also, please examine the photo my husband took from a
plane one day. See the dirt road running through residential property? That is
the old road used during the 1940s to transport people and supplies from the
town of Borrego Springs to the old Hoberg hotel, now the Palms at Indian Head!
From the air, old Indian trails may also be observed. Park personnel ask
people to be careful where they park and drive in the state park. This is also
valid when developing a new plot for construction or development. My hope is
that the people of Borrego will offer a helping hand to nature. We can help by
replanting native plants on plots having none or by offering habitat to wild
animals native to the desert right in our own backyards!
This is the season we often review our reasons for moving to Borrego Springs.
The contrast to our previous place of residence is gigantic. There, traffic
was stupefying. People were everywhere. Days on the calendar were penciled in.
In other words, life was hectic. Here, during summer, often the paper delivery
is the only vehicle seen on our street during the day, and, guaranteed, not
too many people are seen walking around during the daytime! There are many
ways to describe Borrego in summertime, but we just call it “the good life.”