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Desert Diary


As every comedian knows, timing is everything. It's not just the comic on the stage that lives or dies by this principle, but virtually all of life. Lack of precipitation at the right time, and there are no Mexican Poppies gracing the landscape that year. Or if spadefoot toads, dependent on pools of water from the summer monsoon to raise their young, breed too early or too late, their offsprings' dried bodies line the cracked clay. The Pronghorn born too early suffered the late blizzard, and no joy in motherhood that year.

Our desert's early peoples, hunters and gatherers, likewise had to time their movements right—or suffer the consequences. Travel to the foothills to gather pinyon nuts the wrong year, and pickings were scanty. Or arriving at the huecos, expecting water to replenish that lost on the trek, only to see the last hint of moisture disappear into thin air, and the old or weak might never see water again. To survive in our harsh land, the early inhabitants must have learned quickly the truism, that timing is everything!
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Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest. rule

Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.