Arizona Wildlife, California Beach: #TankaTuesday

This week’s #TankaTuesday is at the bottom of the post.

This past week we had two new animals show up in our yard. The first was an adolescent javelina. These are not pigs, but peccaries. Because they are very destructive to flowers and cacti, we eventually had to get permission to fence them off our property. But now this little one showed up alone. They travel in herds, called squadrons, and the babies are always twins. I think this one became separated from his people after the @#&*s had to have their fireworks.

Then we were visited by the king snake two days in a row. The first time the snake was climbing a wall. The next day he was near the pool. We love king snakes because they keep rattlesnakes away!

Today’s #TankaTuesday prompt by Colleen is to write a poem with imagery that incorporates the phrase Sun, Sand, & Sea and uses this photograph for inspiration.

This photo taken in San Diego is a far cry from my desert world, but I did used to live in California, not that far from San Diego. At one time, the gardener and I thought we would move to San Diego, but we changed our minds. I wrote a haibun about a different San Diego beach and something that happened not long after we moved to California.

How I Became a Californian

That first year in California, on a sunny late October day, we skipped our grad classes and pulled the kids out of school. The four of us lay on beach towels, mesmerized by the push and pull, the rhythmic crashing, of the waves as they broke upon the beach. My chin rested between my forearms, and the smell of my own warmed skin pleased me. The sun, sand, & sea of California, even enjoyed this late in the season, seemed unreal in comparison with all my Michigan winters. The flowers were so different, I thought, as I spied spiky orange bird-of-paradise flowers along the restroom building. A whistle sounded, and we all looked toward the road. There we saw a train rushing toward us. I only noticed then that the tracks were laid in the sand along the sidewalk. The train slid in to a stop right in front of us. Only three people alighted: young men in board shorts, each carrying a surfboard. They ran past us and straight into the ocean as we watched with our mouths hanging open. The train departed and with it my midwestern innocence.

The foamy surf swelled

just past the sloping shoreline

on this grand fall day.


Filed under #amwriting, #poetrycommunity, #TankaTuesday, #writingcommunity, Arizona, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Poetry, Writing, Writing prompt

63 responses to “Arizona Wildlife, California Beach: #TankaTuesday

  1. Phil and I were supposed to take that train last September but the track had been undermined by a storm. Thanks for giving me the experience I missed.
    Loved the pictures and writing!

    • That would have been fun! Since we didn’t know the tracks were there and couldn’t imagine someone taking a train to surf we were shocked to put it mildly! Thank you!

  2. Maybe you need to zoned for zoo! 😉 We don’t have any of those here.

  3. Terrific post, Luanne. How did you get the javelina out of your yard?

  4. I wish we all could be California girls…

  5. Nice juxtaposition between desert and sea. And of course I love hearing about your peccary sighting!

    • We think he got out ok during the night because we left the gate open. Thanks, Amie! Hope you’re having a nice cool time in Maine right now.

  6. Nice post, Luanne.

  7. Wonderful haibun, Luanne! I can’t imagine javelinas and king snakes in my backyard! How fun! 🙂

  8. I LOVE your haibun, particularly the rhythm of the prose. I felt myself transported.

  9. Well your haiburn is amazing you transported me through time and space from southern England to California and I saw and felt what you saw…
    Question: the little chap separated from his squadron….will be okay? 💜💜💜

  10. What a wonderful story, Luanne. Thank you for using such fabulous imagery. The train stopping right in front of you left me with a gasp! Here’s a bit of irony. We lived in SoCal but in the desert, although my husband was born in Long Beach. What did you do with the javelina?

    • Thank you, Colleen!!! I wouldn’t choose to live in the California desert, but I appreciate how we must live where we are set (for whatever reason). I’m definitely a water person (Cancer sign, which is water, and growing up on lakes in Michigan) so would prefer Cali or Michigan for that reason, but Arizona has its good points. So I called the wildlife rescue. Using their advice that the kid and the herd could probably find each other by scent, we left the gate open all night. I think he got out. Our worry was that we would have the whole herd back in the yard, but that did not happen.

      • Great news about the javelina, Luanne. My husband and I were in the Air Force, so we had to go where we were told. After my husband retired, we still traveled around trying to figure out where we wanted to live. He’s a 100% disabled Vet, so Michigan gave us the home we always wanted.

  11. Wonderful wildlife. I haven’t seen a live king snake, yet, but someone (maybe The Putterer?) ran over one near my house not long ago. No javalina here, though. Fox, jackrabbit, etc. But quite weirdly, a prairie dog! (We do not live in p-dog habitat at all.)

    Loved the “Sandy”ego story and poem.

    • Thanks, Eilene. Wow, a prairie dog! That would be fun to see. I have never seen a fox anywhere I have lived, sadly. And we have lots of bunnies, but they are all cottontails. I thought we would have jackrabbits, but no. Sad about the king snake.

  12. Loved your haibun. The story is so special.So that’s when you became a Cali girl. I love it.

    Your yard guest… Oh my goodness. Well, I do feel for the little piggy looking guy. I bet his mama is out searching for him.
    But those snakes… Oh my… that is scary to me. Near the pool, you say? Snakes can survive in water; they have thick skin that guards them from toxins and such. Aren’t you scared it might end up in your pool? Please be careful.
    Sending blessings. xoxo

    • Thank you, Selma! I really hope that the wildlife rescue is right and that with the gate open he and his herd were able to find each other because they can smell each other from a long way off (they supposedly smell bad, but I have never smelled them). The king snakes are wonderful because they really do eat baby rattlesnakes. We have had a king snake watching over us every year. They are not poisonous. They are constrictors, but not harmful to humans, although i hear if you put your hand down near one you and the snake will both be surprised and upset and the snake may bite (but no poison). XO

  13. Wonderful story and beautiful poem, Luanne. I’ve encountered javelina a few times, walking on trails near Prescott. Thank goodness, they’ve never snuck into our yard. 😊

  14. Lovely story Luanne ❤️

  15. You make me miss California. I remember my first October in Oakland, sitting in the sun outside the factory where I worked, wearing denim cutoffs, my legs stretched out before me. I remember thinking how wonderful it felt to have the sun’s warmth on my bare legs. If I’d still been in NY, I would have been wearing flannel shirts and jeans 🙂

  16. Beautiful poem, Luanne! And I love the pictures you shared with us.

    Yvette M Calleiro 🙂

  17. I’ve been to a few California beaches…found some coral after a storm went through. Any beach is a good beach (Mostly – some of the Key West Florida beaches are as hard as concrete because they really are just thousand year old coral!) I don’t recall a train near any I visited.

  18. Luanne, an all-around wonderful post. Glad to learn a little about you and about the critters who inhabit your ecosystem. I had no idea snakes could climb straight up walls!

    • Thank you!
      Isn’t that creepy?! Well, the worst is that one year we had a huge gopher snake (they are harmless but puff themselves up to give the impression of rattlesnakes to scare people away) hanging from a tree. I mean, who wants to walk under a tree that might have a snake in it?

  19. You have interesting wildlife Luanne and I enjoyed your lyrical description of becoming Californian!

    • Thank you, Andrea. So glad you enjoyed the description! Our wildlife is so interesting. There is other wildlife in Arizona that we don’t see–foxes and bears and deer, etc. But the ones we get tend to be the scrappy ones–rabbits and coyotes and bobcats and javelinas and snakes and lizards!

  20. Nice imagery. 😀

  21. The train departed and with it my midwestern innocence.

    This is cute, and it also says so much in just a few words, Luanne… Lovely.

    BTW, I think peccaries are necessary for cocoa bean production (or, at least, helpful!)


  22. What a great story and poem. I had no idea about the train on a sandtrack.
    Peccaries and coca beans does ring a bell, though.
    Wild pigs, foxes, and rabbits are all introduced species which equate to pests here. And many consider the possum, albeit a native, to be one also because of their nocturnal ramblings in rooves and garden trees. But my girlfriend was a wildlife carer for orphaned and injured possums. Cute little critters.

  23. Amy

    I missed this one. (I just am not online as much as I once was.) But wow, the javelina and the snake are not animals we see in New England.

    I can’t imagine not living near the ocean—at least within a few hours. Now, of course, we are within minutes. So I relate more to the California part of this post!

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