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Butterfly flourish

Below are photos and descriptions of the prairie dogs and terrain I saw when I visited Arizona to research my novel Yakimali’s Gift.

ground squirrel

These are black-tailed prairie dogs, or grassland squirrels, I saw at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a fabulous 20-acre site that includes a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden. The prairie dogs create quite a few holes and mounds, as you can see here, which made traveling difficult for the colonists and animals. Father Font, one of the priests on the Anza expedition, noted in his ground squirrel 2diary: “The footing on today’s journey was somewhat bad because of the squirrel mounds which abound.”


The next picture shows the saguaro cacti that are common in the Sonoran Desert where Yakimali’s Gift takes place. The saguaro, the largest cactus in the U.S., can grow as tall as 60 feet and live as long as 200 years. In Yakimali’s Gift, late one night Fernanda and her brother sneak a pair of horses away from camp and ride out to the Casa Grande ruins. The moonlight shines on the tall saguaros, reminding Fernanda of “soldiers frozen in a stiff salute.”

barrel cactus etcHere are other cacti and plants of the Sonoran desert. The plant in the foreground with the yellow flowers is a creosote bush, or hediondilla, which translates from Spanish to “the little stinker” because of the plant’s pungent smell. On the colonization expedition, the horses and mules were discouraged from eating the plant because the resinous leaves would burn their mouths.

mountainsThis is a picture showing the typical terrain that the colonists would have traveled through at the beginning of their journey. They left Tubac (at that time Mexico, New Spain and now Arizona) in October and endured extreme heat, wind, sandstorms and, later, severe snowstorms. Many of the colonists saw snow for the first time. In Yakimali’s Gift, after a snowstorm the night before, Fernanda ventures from her tent in the early morning to marvel at the silent snowy scene before her:

“Although the sky was overcast with a steel gray, she squinted against the glaring whiteness that covered the ground, rocks, and shrubs—as bright as an expanse of sand in the sunlight, but oh, so cold! And so quiet. Once, wishing for privacy away from her family, she snuck to the back room of their hut and covered her ears to seal out all noise. Still she heard something—her breathing, her heartbeat, her thoughts. But here, now, there was not a single sound.”

44 Responses to Home

  1. Mary Beth says:

    I love the countdown calendar; even happier that it isn’t Mayan. Eager to have one of my own copies.

  2. lindacovella says:

    Thanks, Mary Beth! Yes, glad the Mayan calendar was wrong :-) That is, that someone interpreted it wrong!

  3. Liza Scully says:

    So happy for you Linda. Great website and look forward to reading the book!

  4. Brad Handzel says:

    Way To Go ! The first one is the hardest.

  5. Hi Linda! Congrats are in order! I am so happy to see you accomplish this goal. I know this has been a labor of love of yours for many years and I can’t wait to see the bound beauty and read it to our grand kids. Gee, I don’t think I have known a real author before.
    Please accept all my love and wishes of good luck.
    Dave Davison

  6. Maureen Davis says:

    Congratulations Mom Linda! Morgan and I are very proud of you! I better get a signed copy of your book when it comes out :) we love you!

    • lindacovella says:

      Thanks so much to you and Morgan! You’ll definitely get a signed copy. I’ve loved discussing books with you since you were a little tyke. :-) Love you!

  7. You have been nominated for a blogger award here http://wp.me/p2D9RS-2m best of luck

  8. Claudia says:

    I have been to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum it is a great place to visit. Your description is wonderful. I hope others visit.

  9. Linda, thank you for sharing these beautiful images! I hope you do an interview on Twitter with me soon. I’m sure others would love to learn more about you too!

  10. Elsie says:

    Hi Linda! I love how cute prairie dogs look but the chaos they create – crazy. Way to go on all the research for your book. I’m excited for you. I’m editing my first one now. Slow process for sure! I have been busy writing my A-Z Challenge posts though, so it’s been even slower. But, it’s well worth it. I think the Challenge is going to rock!

    Be well,

    AJ’s wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

  11. Just posted my A for the A-Z Challenge. I never knew prairie dogs looked like that, but I live in the UK. I’ll try to call again.

  12. Stopping by on the 7th day of the #Challenge. Looking for other writers and here you are.I appreciate your writing for an age that can be difficult and hopefully turning them into life long readers. Know you are going to make new blogging friends. If you have time or interest, I am writing about gardening and related topics this month. Stop by.

    • lindacovella says:

      Stepheny, thanks so much for stopping by. I enjoyed your guest blogger’s post today. Gardening is probably my second love to writing. I planted some flowers this weekend, and the veggies are next!

  13. I look forward to reading your book, lovely images by the way. Nice to meet and connect through atozchallenge. http://aimingforapublishingdeal.blogspot.co.uk/

  14. stephie5741 says:

    Research trips are the best. I haven’t taken nearly enough of them…and the ones I have taken haven’t been this adventurous, at all!


  15. Congratulations! WE DID IT :)

    Thanks for stopping by at mine Linda during the challenge xx

  16. Sammy D. says:

    Hi Linda – I saw your hauntingly beautiful trailer on Silvia’s blog, and I’ve got Yakimalli’s Gift on my Amazon List for my next order – who can resist an Indie author recommended by one of my favorite bloggers, coupled with Native American flute music and historic photos of “our Ancients”?!?

    I live in Colorado, but have always felt at home in the Arizona desert. The Sonoran Desert Museum is one of my favorite places to visit. And I love, love, love the saguaros. You wrote such a comprehensive intriguing description of that part of Arizona. Now I need to be there!

  17. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on one. Regards

  18. Dawn says:

    Hey Linda, great pics..saw lots of prairie dogs in North Dakota/south dakota…..Enjoyed your site

  19. dana michael says:

    I’m looking forward to reading your books. I’m a bit of a bookworm.

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