Picture Rocks Pride

Volume 7, Number 2 February, 2009

Welcome to the Picture Rocks Digest, a free newsletter about issues and events in the community. The print version of this all-volunteer publication is distributed at area businesses and community sites. If you have calendar events or news items, or if you would like to be added to our email list, please contact us at PictureRocksDigest@comcast.net.

The Picture Rocks Digest is a publication of Citizens for Picture Rocks, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(4) civic organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in the community. Citizens for Picture Rocks meets the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm in the Picture Rocks Community Center, 5615 N. Sanders Road. Meetings are free and open to the public. The next meeting is February 17, 2009. Everyone is welcome to attend. Membership not required, but highly recommended. Dues are $20/year for an individual or $25/year for a family.

Monthly Meeting

Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Social Time at 6:30 p.m.
Meeting begins at 7:00 p.m.

Picture Rocks Community Center
5615 N. Sanders Road

Guest Speaker: Philip Jenkins
Botany Dept., University of Arizona
"Spring Wildflowers of the Sonoran Desert"

Free and open to the public.


Sherryl Volpone, a Picture Rocks neighbor who is also a librarian at the new Wheeler Taft Abbett, Sr. Library near Silverbell and Cortaro Roads, was the guest speaker at the Jan. 20 C4PR meeting. She talked about the many programs for readers of all ages available at the library, including Homework Help, Storytime, Kids Book Club, Family Craft Night, Teen Movie Night and Book Club, Computer Classes, AARP Tax Assistance, Senior Wii Bowling, and more. The Bookmobile stops at Picture Rocks and Sandario Roads on third Saturdays from 11 a.m. to noon.

view of library inside of library

view from library
The bright and spacious new library at Cortaro and Silverbell has books, of course, and also CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, computers, and a variety of programs for all ages

The Abbett Library has 56 public computers and free WiFi access. The library system's Info Line (791- 4010) will answer just about any question, from research to recipes. Neighbors can sign up for library cards at the May 9 Picture Rocks Community Faire, and activate them on their next trip to the library. For more information on Abbett Library programs, call 594-5200.

Part One: The First People

People have lived in the Avra Valley for thousands of years. Archaeologists call the first people Paleoindians. They were hunter-gatherers who took down mammoths with stone-tipped spears at least 14,000 years ago. Experts argue about how the first people arrived, but evidence is growing that there were a number of migrations from Asia: by boat along the Alaskan and Canadian coasts, by land across the Bering Strait when it was frozen, and by boat to Central and/or South America moving up into the Southwest. The oldest known human site in the New World, dated at 30,000 years ago, is in southern Chile.

petroglyph petroglyph petroglyph

These petroglyphs atop Signal Hill are some of many to be found in and around the community of Picture Rocks

After climate changes - which may have resulted from a meteor strike or from volcanic eruptions - killed off the large megafauna like mammoths and camels, the Paleoindian culture was replaced by the Archaic peoples about 11,000 years ago. They were probably descendants of the Paleoindians. Also hunter-gatherers, traveling in small bands and living off the desert, these people left rock art behind, petroglyphs carved or pecked into rock faces, and pictographs, paintings. What look like abstract designs to us had deep meaning to them, combining stories, prayers, maps, history, and the human urge to create art.

Agriculture came north from Mexico, where it is likely that young women gatherers domesticated the teosinte plant into corn. The oldest corn in the Southwest, about 4,000 years old, comes from the Tucson area. Squash, beans and cotton were also planted as people started becoming more settled and building villages. About 2,000 years ago clay pottery technology also made its way up from Mexico. (To be continued.)


SPRING!?!?!?! IN FEBRUARY?!?!?!?

Spring is springing into life this month, even though the calendar says it's the dead of winter. With almost three inches of rain in December and January, wildflowers are starting to blossom, creating bright splotches of color. White flowers are joined by pink and fuchsia, then yellow and purple blossoms.

Sara orange-tip butterflies move the colors around, glimpses of white wings with bright orange spots. Lizards come out to soak up the sun's warmth. Antelope ground squirrels are giving birth in their underground nests. Gila woodpeckers are marking their territory by pounding on metal satellite dishes and pipes. The noise might give you a headache, but the birds seem not to mind. Incidentally, those fake owls don't seem to faze the woodpeckers one bit, but hanging old CDs where they turn in the breeze will keep them away.

Costa's hummingbirds join the resident Anna's for the next five months. Great horned owls begin nesting, including, hopefully, the pair at Desert Winds Elementary School. Desert tortoises will be poking their heads out of their burrows to catch some rays. On the south slopes of rocky hillsides, rattlesnakes will also be emerging from hibernation and sunning themselves, so tread carefully.

There's still a chance of several days of cold winter rain, and even a couple of freezing nights. December and January saw eight freezing nights, but also four 80-degree days. In February 1939 temperatures dropped into the mid-20s and stayed there, causing serious damage to saguaro cacti. Since the cactus can be as much as 90 percent water, freezing hurts the plant deeply and weakens its resistance to bacterial infection. Absent a repeat deep freeze, the renewal of spring will take firm hold of the Sonoran Desert this month, which is called "Moon of the Deer-mating Odor," or Uhwalig Mashath, by the O'odham people.

The Picture Rocks Digest is written by Albert Lannon (email: bluemoon@dakotacom.net; phone: 622-3561). Additional materials and design by Karen J. Zopf.