If there is still daylight after dinner I like to go for a walk with my dog Kenai. He is a superb walk partner, as long as he feels safe from loud noises. If he senses something akin to a gunshot, he hightails it home, or at least far away from whatever he percieves to be the source of the noise. Quite near to our house are washes created to divert the deluges of monsoon rain in the summer months. The washes are a great place to let Kenai wander and investigate every smell he can find. These areas have become catch-alls for plants and animals that see disturbed area as opportunity. Prickly pear, especially cow-tongue variety, Baccharis, palo verde, mesquite, and yard escapees dominate.
Once I found coyote melons growing in our wash and brought the fruits home to harvest the seeds. Since I became so familiar with cucurbits in learning about hand-pollination, their presence outside of a garden delights me. A coy jealousy arises in me when I see them producing handsomely in spite of the decline in bees. I think, "What secret do they keep that lets them attract pollinators while my own fruits tended to wither without the magic spark of life?"
The coyote melons were one thing, but when I saw a pumpkin plant growing in a heap of sand, covered over with browning bermuda grass, I was astounded. For one thing, sand holds very little water, and my squash plants have always been heavy drinkers. Furthermore, the plant had no problem attracting pollinators; it had four pumpkins growing on it! Did this plant spring forth from a seed born in last year's jack-o-lantern that got smashed in the street by some rowdy young boys? How did the seed manage to germinate at just the right time to make the pumpkins ripen in time for the holiday? Did the roots dig deep underground to some cool pocket of moisture? Only the pumpkin and the wash know the answers. I brought home two of the four pumpkins to celebrate the harvest season with. Maybe these seeds will do well in my garden as well.