The heat of the southern Arizona morning is intensifying. Humidity amplifies the heat. Despite the heat and humidity, I would like a cup of tea.
We have stopped in Amado for tea. At a rustic minimart, the kind of community store that predates well the current craze of interstate exit minimarts which blaze neon and sport many islands of gas pumps. The pair of pumps here are old. I don’t see any tea water in the store and ask the cashier whether he has any. “We have coffee,” he tells me. “There’s hot water in the tap,” he says, “but it’s probably not good enough for tea.” I pass on the hot tap tea but buy ice for our cooler. From the cooler, I fish a cool can of sparkling water to drink instead of tea.
From Amado, we drive across a desert plain of ocotillo and scrub where birds sing. Rabbits start among the cholla as we approach. Adrian catches a glimpse of a javelina. We drive into mountains.
In a lush wash bordered by oaks and poison ivy, young seedlings of a Mentzelia stand about two inches tall. These may be Mentzelia isolata, a species that reaches its northernmost distribution in the mountains of southern Arizona. We also find a lovely cloak fern, perhaps Notholaena lemmoni, tucked among the thick layers of dried oak leaves and strands of club moss on the shaded higher banks of the wash.