The biggest community event of recent months was the Sock Hop at the Rodeo Tavern. Yeah, you read that right, in February our friend Howard organized a 50’s style sock hop at the Tavern and 100 + community members dug out their poodle skirts and leather jackets to spend a fun evening dancing, eating burgers and drinking root beer floats. Howard played MC for the evening and had a wonderful line-up of oldies and videos playing on a big screen while everyone reverted to their teenaged selves for one night. A group of gals got together as the Shangri-La-Las and lip synced “My Boyfriend’s Back” and not to be out done, 4 guys became the Portalaires and sang doo-op style “Under the Boardwalk” and “Goodnight Sweetheart”. The Portalaires had invited Bud and I to provide musical accompaniment, so Bud played guitar and I played percussion. It was a hoot! The Portalaires had so much fun that we continued rehearsing and played a 45 minute gig at a nursing home in Lordsburg a few weeks later. We were a big hit! Two of the guys are gone now for the summer, so we have to wait until fall to begin rehearsing again and we hope to play at some other venues next winter.
The St. Patrick’s Day parade once again mustered in our yard and marched to the Portal Store and back to the Library for the refreshments and Irish song sing-along. We led the kazoo band again and had a nice turn-out. The parade was short, as usual and we have plans to encourage more participation by offering prizes for different categories next year. Yes, I volunteered to help with another event.
Birding this spring was somewhat slow, it seemed to us. We had Beto (Portal’s Jack of all trades) move our front fence into a U shape big enough for a couple of benches, so birders can sit and watch the birds in our yard without actually being in our yard. It works beautifully and people really appreciate it because we get some very desirable birds visiting our feeders. Mainly the Montezuma Quail pair and the Blue Throated Hummingbirds. We also had a Gray Catbird most of the winter, which is unusual for this area.
We have designated Monday as our Jeeping day and we’ve had some great adventures to old mines, birding spots and Indian pictographs. Mel & Becky Moe and Stevie & Greg Wayman come with us sometimes. Mel showed us the only known place in New Mexico where Jojoba grows and he knows lots of places to see ancient and more recent Apache
pictographs and granaries. For my birthday we explored the old Hatchita Mine town in New Mexico, then we went on into Palomas, Mexico for lunch at the Pink Store. I love eating there and the waiters are wonderful! The Mariachis sang happy birthday to me too!
Our neighborhood Great Horned Owls who lost their nesting cavity last year when the wind blew their tree down surprised everyone when they set up housekeeping in a hollowed out broken branch in a sycamore tree right downtown between the cafe and the clinic where I work. I could watch the nest from my desk while working. It was great! The nest was only about 10 feet off the ground, so birders had a great vantage point from the deck going into the clinic. As the nestlings grew, their space was pretty cramped and one evening after Mama came in to feed them, the smaller of the two owlets was knocked out of the nest onto the ground. Helen, our resident owl expert brought a box over and taped it to the railing of the clinic and placed the owlet in the box for the night. The next morning I helped Helen put a basket into a tree next to the clinic and we placed the owlet in the basket. Mama watched the whole time and was very aware of what we were doing. Helen then left some road killed rabbit nearby so Mama didn’t have to go far for food and with no problem, both owlets got fed each night as we watched them grow and develop feathers and eventually leave their nests. The fledglings are still being fed by their parents, and we hear them food begging in the evenings down in the creek, but we don’t see them. They stay pretty well hidden.
As of June first the birders have more or less disappeared. June being the hottest month of the year, people don’t want to be out in the heat looking for birds that are avoiding the heat by staying still in the trees. The nesting birds are still active and we have fledgling Says Phoebes and Black Phoebes in our yard as well as flycatchers of assorted varieties.
On June 5th we had quite a scare here in Portal. It was one of the most frightening days of our lives. A fire of unknown cause raged across the grassland that ran behind our little town of Portal and threatened the Post Office, Library and several homes. After sounding the alarm to our neighbors, Bud and I placed two hoses of sprinklers along our back fence and went to help hose down the area behind the Post Office and Library. With the help of neighbors young and old, we were able to keep the fire from damaging any of those buildings.There was a lot of fuel in that undeveloped area behind us and it burned hot and fast. Trees were incinerated or scorched and a few fences as well as two mostly unused sheds were destroyed. The heat was intense and our little garden hoses were not real effective once the roaring blaze got close to our fence.
When the Portal & Rodeo Volunteers arrived with water trucks, the power company turned off the power to the area, so our garden hoses were put out of business. The forest fire crews took over and went to work. They were able to knock down the flames pretty quickly and worked into the night to prevent any rekindling. We personally lost several fruit trees, and the fire came within 40 feet of our house and our neighbors on either side, but all is well. No injuries or homes lost.
Our little community turned out to protect all that we love here and kept the fire from raging up the canyon. This is why we love living here! A call out for all hands to come to downtown Portal to help was answered by women and men from 25 into their 80s and they all got right down to spraying and moving garden hoses until the fire fighters arrived. This community is great!
We had some unusual dry thunder & lightning storms the first week in June and on June 7th at least 4 wildfires were sparked by lightning in Cochise County. Several are now contained while others are still raging. High winds last weekend didn’t help and with temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, the fire fighters are struggling. The air is smokey all across the county and we have about two more weeks before we can expect the monsoon rains to start.
Well, I think this brings us up to date. I’ll probably think of something I forgot as soon as I publish this, but at least it’s letting you all know that we are still having fun out here!