While not exactly a castle, it was certainly a well-defended home...
...perched amid the upper branches of one of the prickliest of plants, a well-grown cholla cactus armed with long thorns and, less visible, the tiny, vicious glochids that characterize the Opuntia species.
I'm not sure what kind of bird built the nest, which is covered over the top and has only a small round entrance.
It did not appear to be in use just now in early August, but it had certainly been a fine home, built with care.
Thanks to my sister for discovering this dwelling down in a nearby arroyo. See also my post at the Small Sunny Garden for a more complete look at the desert on a dry August morning.
For weeks it has been hot. Harsh, stale heat, made of sun beating relentlessly on stone and gravel. Beating down across miles of empty mountain and lowland. Barren, dead winds, anxiously hurrying eastward, oblivious of anything beneath them. Withering, suffocating winds that dry the mouth and make the heart faint.
The change began this morning, when the sun shone through a gray veil that made all brilliant beneath it. The intensity of the rays were tempered at last by moisture in the far reaches of the sky. The air was still hot, but more grateful. There was movement high above the earth.
And now it is night. Different scents are in the air now. It is cool, warm, cool, warm, as the breezes move or fail.
The wind is no longer a dead, hostile thing. It is a living, breathing, fluttering thing. It hovers about, wrapping itself in my hair. It seems to live as birds live, fly as they fly, caress as they caress.
It is faintly moist, and it is water that lies behind all life. How many hundred miles lie between me and the ocean? Yet these winds bring its promise and fulfilment, the rumor of mighty waters in another world. In a few hours, a few days, rain comes...
Last night and tonight I heard toads beginning to tune their songs. This is their time of year, when love and birth and growth are all completed within a week or two.
The coyotes are unusually quiet.
Far away in the east, along the horizon, there is lightning, and it is red.