In the pre-dawn hour, I’m sitting at a picnic table in a little neighborhood park, a plastic kids playground behind me, thick green lawn reaching across the gentle slope to the east, all of it overlooking the bathtub-ringed reservoir called Lake Mead. Huge jackrabbits sleep on the park’s edge. On the other side, I see the soft slumbering lumps of desert cottontails.
It’s 76 degrees, before the sun rises over the brown-red mountains on the Arizona side. In the dim purple light, I see the first Desert Bighorn Sheep step daintily down the rocky hill and underneath the great metal legs of the electric-transmission tower behind this Boulder City suburban park. It’s a tall ram with huge winding horns. A half-dozen more follow him down. They cautiously look around the empty park and settle in for breakfast.
Magnificent creatures! The males are huge and sturdy, the patriarchs with thick curling horns that wrap down and around the head, some ending with ragged points from their mating wars. Long ears, horselike muzzles neatly capped in white hair, huge calm eyes, the short rough coat exactly the color of the desert rocks they call home, and here they are in a suburb. (more…)