He’s OUT!!! (Desert tortoise update!)

Exciting exciting exciting news, my friends! Geronimo and I were reunited yesterday!!

It was no surprise, really, but still thrilling. I actually found him further toward the front in his burrow earlier in the week, on Wednesday when I got home from work. He was facing in, and facing in means that he’d been out. I couldn’t be sure that he was out out for the season, though, because the nighttime/early morning low temps were still down in the 40’s! I thought he might have come out for a day-visit.

But I had strong suspicions. I was almost sure that he was emerging to bask in the sun for a few hours every day, and that I was just missing him. I couldn’t wait for the weekend! This is the first spring with him here that I’m not at home all day during the week, so I’d figured I’d have to wait for the weekend before I could really greet him.

So yesterday was Saturday, and it was later in the afternoon when I saw him. He was half-way back in his burrow. I don’t know how, but I almost missed him again, even though I was here all day! I’d gone out periodically to check, too.

 

My first pic of Geronimo this year! [06 March 2021]

 

I ran into the house to grab my phone so I could take pics. He was already heading back in! I was afraid he was going to be gone when I got back out, but I found him all the way out again and coming toward me. He was sleepy and slow, but I could tell that he was truckin’. We were both so excited. My little scale-baby!!

I filled his large plant dish and set him in to soak. He needed to rehydrate after his long winter underground. He immediately stuck his head underwater and drank and drank and drank and blew bubbles through his nostrils.

 

Thirsty tortoise.

 

Oh. Hello.

 

Then we were off on our first spring trek together through the yard!

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

WHY HELLO.

 

Hello Hello Hello Hello Hello

 

Hello.

 

mmffnomghnomHello.

 

Good-bye.

 

We went around the yard together for the next half-hour, and I fed him flowers every other step of the way. He was HUNGRY for those hibiscus flowers!

 

Hello.

 

He also munched happily on the young spring grasses and weeds growing everywhere.

 

Hello.

 

And we bonded!

 

Hello.

 

He snuggled up to my leg, then climbed over me. My son is a climber.

 

Hello.

 

Cuddles on the gravel.

 

Cuddles and pets and scritches!

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

GOODBYE.

 

Bye.

 

Eat my dust.

 

He likes to kick dirt out behind him as he goes into his burrow. That’s the nature of Geronimo. He digs, climbs, eats, snuggles, and loves with his whole huge, gentle tortoise heart.

He’s not out in full turbo-Geronimo force yet, though. He’s still sleepy. This morning he dozed contentedly under my finger as I rubbed slow circles on the top of his head. I’m seeing low temps in the 40’s forecasted for the next few nights, so we’re still in the process! He’ll be in, he’ll be out, but he’s definitely not hibernating anymore, especially since he’s hydrated and eaten.

I hope you’re all happy and well, too!

 

 

 

Last night’s Snow Moon, the last full moon of winter.

A full moon rose last night: the Snow Moon, also known as the “Quickening Moon.” It’s February’s full moon, and it’s risen in Virgo as the sun is positioned in Pisces… a lunation that comes just as we’ve exited the beautiful but unpredictable gustiness of air sign Aquarius, not to mention a Mercury retrograde. It’s a powerful lunation for cleaning up in the aftermath of a Mercury retrograde/air sign season double-whammy.

If this is Greek to you, I’ll put it simply: We’ve made it through a period of cosmic disarray, and the full moon that rose last night is here to help put things back in order. It’s up to us to harness its grounding energy in our individual lives so we can do better as humans out in the world. With such a moon inspiring introspection and self-evaluation, we have a blessing of an opportunity to make adjustments and gain perspective!

I performed my full-moon ritual for clarity, grounding, and self-improvement, but not before I went out to do some moon-gazing in the backyard. The moon was brilliant in the clear desert sky.

 

The full moon in Virgo, the Snow Moon, 27 Feb. 2021

 

Salem sat with me in the moonlight, as she does. She loves the full moon, too!

This weekend I’ve felt the energy of spring quite keenly, and it’s been amazing. Yesterday morning I kept my office and bedroom windows open, and Nenette divided her time between the two. There are different birds and scents in the front yard (office window) and backyard (bedroom window), you see. She had to keep it all covered.

Geronimo’s been stirring in his burrow more and more. I saw him two more times last week, deep in the back pocket of the burrow in the space that leads down into his tunnels. That’s what he does. He comes up to the ground floor, dozes in the back, then descends into his basement tunnels again. It’s thrilling to catch sight of him! I’m looking at the weather forecast and figuring that he’ll emerge completely by the end of next weekend.

This last stretch is the hardest. It’s difficult to be patient what with our balmy afternoon temperatures up in the 70’s and every day typically sunny and bright; I have to remind myself that our nighttime/early morning temperatures are still too cold for Geronimo. With our nighttime lows down in the 40’s, he won’t come out.

Starting on Friday, though, our low temperatures are predicted to hit at 56, 64, 68, and 65 – Friday through Monday, all I can see in my weather app as of now – and desert tortoises will come out of hibernation once the nighttime temps hold in the mid-upper 50’s for four-five consecutive nights. SO!

I might have a Geronimo post for you not this week, but next!

May this find you all healthy and well, my friends.

 

 

Geronimo is sleep-walking in his burrow?! (Desert tortoise update – pre-post-hibernation appearance!)

He was still in his burrow, and he was still sleeping, and then he was gone again, but still… I got to see Geronimo today!

I saw him stir in his sleep. Then I stepped away for a moment. When I came back, he was gone.

It was toward the middle of November when I realized that Geronimo had gone into hibernation. Since then, I’ve spoken to him every day, no matter the weather or the time. I know he can hear me. He’s heard my voice in the cold rain and in the dark of night and in the brilliant, warm glare of the late-afternoon sun… mostly the latter. (We’ve had very little weather this winter.)

Geronimo’s entire burrow seems to be alive with the warming of the new year, its hollowed-out domed structure of earth energetically aware. I crouch in front of his doorway and talk, and so his burrow’s back interior wall knows how cute and sweet and loved and missed Geronimo is, and what a good boy he is, and how I hope that he’s enjoying a restful hibernation, sleeping well, having wonderful dreams, and not letting the bedbugs bite. As his mother, I’m 100% certain that Geronimo is receiving my messages. I know that my scalebaby can hear me deep in his hibernating brain, wherever he is in his underground labyrinth.

Lately, I’ve been telling him excitedly about the warmth of the afternoons and the lengthening of the days. I’ll see you soon, Geronimo. I can’t wait to see you again!

And lo, when I went to address the inside of his burrow today, I found myself addressing him directly. He’s still asleep, but still. There he was.

I couldn’t believe it when I saw him!

 

Hello.

 

His sleeping face!

 

HELLO.

 

I knew that he wasn’t going to come out all the way today, and he didn’t. When the chill of dusk started to settle, I went back out to check on him and found that he’d retreated into his cozy winter digs.

He made his first appearance, though, and I’m still so thrilled. My little scalebaby is getting ready, making his moves, gradually waking up.

With hibernation emergence already underway, it’s looking like he’ll come out earlier than usual, maybe, just as he went in earlier than usual. It’s only February Week One!

Salem is going to be happy to see Geronimo again, too. I wanted to take some pics of her today, but when I went out with that in mind, I found her devouring a freshly killed dove behind one of the large hibiscus plants. So, yeah… no pics of her.

In indoor furbaby news, though, I took this micro-video of Nenette last night:

 

 

I hope to post about Geronimo again soon! His pre-post-hibernation surprise brightened My year.

Happy Sunday, friends.

 

 

Welcome to the Hotel Arizona – such a lovely place. (Desert tortoise update! Hibernation 2020.)

October is over. Short Horror October is over. Michael Myers is once again in the house, in pieces piled up on the bed in the spare bedroom (pending my decision on where to store him). You know I seriously considered leaving him out year-round. I had to talk myself out of it, as the mail carrier was visibly skittish bringing the mail up to the box.

At October’s end, I had a few requests for a Geronimo update. What’s going on with Geronimo’s hibernation? When are we getting a pre-hibernation updates post? I was eager to provide the updates, too, but it’d been a few weeks since I’d seen him. I’d had to cancel his pre-hibernation exam because he wasn’t out that morning (it was a Saturday), though he’d been out a few days before that.

I wanted to oblige your requests right away, but I also wanted to wait, because I wasn’t sure what was going on. Maybe he would come out again, like he did after I thought he’d gone in last year! False hibernations happen.

In the weeks following Geronimo’s canceled pre-hibernation appointment, I searched for him every day when I was home. Eventually, I had to assume that he’d already tucked himself in for the year.

To tell you the truth, I’ve been a little sad about it. His departure was so unexpected! I didn’t have a chance to tuck him in, myself, and wish him a good night. I wasn’t ready. I never am, but this year, I really wasn’t. Last year and the year before, he went into hibernation toward the end of November. This year, it was mid-October-ish.

If I had to guess, I’d say that Geronimo was eager to hibernate because he wanted to retire to his new digs. (Pun totally intended.)

In 2018, he wasn’t 100% out of sight during hibernation. The edge of his heel could be seen in the shadows of the deep turn from the back of his burrow where it dips down and veers off to the right into the tunnel he’d dug. It was his first year here. His burrow was new.

In 2019, he dug a little more while he was out in the spring and summer, and he couldn’t be seen at all during his hibernation.

In 2020, Geronimo went on an obvious mission in the spring, spending even more of his warm-weather time digging. It can be assumed that he’s now got a sprawling labyrinth of a subterranean tortoise mansion in a network of tunnels beneath the backyard, an occluded, wondrous interior that’s fit for Architectural Digest.

I’m thinking that Geronimo was eager to move into the dream home that he’d built for himself. He wanted to get settled in down there at the first lick of cold weather, not knowing (or caring) that the weather was a cold front that would give way to a week back up in the 90’s. If my suspicions are correct, I don’t blame him for wanting to go in early. His burrow looks exactly the same from the outside, but on the inside, his achievements probably match those of Frank Lloyd Wright’s.

I would love to behold Geronimo’s architectural wonder with my own eyes. I’m still planning to look into what sort of camera one can use for such purposes.

I’m sorry that a real hibernation post isn’t going to happen this year. I remember the last time I saw Geronimo: I’d just gotten home to grab lunch, and he was out on the patio. As always, I wanted so badly to go to him, but I couldn’t, because I had to get back to work. After work, I’d thought… but I haven’t seen him since.

 

SNACKS! [18 September 2020]

 

I talk to Geronimo for a few minutes every evening, sitting outside of his burrow. Maybe he can hear me down there, in some part of his resting brain, wherever he is in the depths of his splendiferous winter abode. I hope that he can, so he can know how much I love him and miss him and wish him sweet dreams.

The post I look forward to writing the most is the one where I tell you about Geronimo’s emergence in spring 2021!

 

 

He’s out! Geronimo’s post-hibernation report, 2020. (Desert tortoise update!)

February 22, 2020 (02/22/2020!) was a cold and dreary day. By this, I mean that it was raining… and it was overcast… and the temps being in the 50’s made it cold by Phoenix standards. It is said that one can expect a desert tortoise to emerge from hibernation when nighttime temps hit the high 50’s four-five consecutive nights, and daytime temps hit the high 60’s four-five consecutive days, and there’s sunlight.

So OF COURSE we discovered Geronimo hunkered down in a puddle of cold water on that gray, dismal day, right in the middle of the yard. Because Geronimo is Geronimo.

 

Hello.

 

My hibernating-reptile-Mommy heart melted in the cold. I was an empty-nester no more!

Geronimo abides by no rules of scaly thumb. He lives by the motto rules are made to be broken. He wasn’t about to wait for consecutive nights and days of certain temperatures, nor did he care to choose a sunshiny moment for basking, which is usually the first order of business for a tortoise coming out of hibernation.

He just loves the rain! Being the little barometer that he is, he woke up that day, I guess, and came out to hydrate himself. (Tortoises are very thirsty upon waking up from hibernation.) Like last year, he hit four months and said, I’m good. I’m OUT.

(Average hibernation period for desert tortoises: four-six months.)

Here I’ve got a slew of pics of Geronimo I’ve taken since then. Geronimo has been busy patrolling and surveying every corner of his domain.

Checking to see that his beloved hibiscus were in good shape:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the length of the east fence:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the south side of his burrow:

 

Hello.

 

Heading back into his burrow after a long day of surveying:

 

Good-bye.

 

Checking out the space between the fence and some aloe and ice plants:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the space between the fence and some ruella:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out alternate paths to the spaces between the fence and the plants:

 

Hello.

 

Heading toward the south fence:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the gravel path heading toward the south fence:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the ice plants along the west side of his burrow:

 

Hello.

 

Taking one of a million breaks for mommy cuddles:

 

Hello.

 

Exiting his beloved laundry room after checking it out thoroughly:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the west side of his domain:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out every square inch of gravel on the west side:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the path from the patio to his burrow:

 

Hello.

 

Basking in the grass:

 

Hello.

 

Chomping through new growth of spring grasses and weeds:

 

Hello.

 

Eating and eating:

 

Hello.

 

Going in for some hibiscus treats:

 

Hello.

 

[Me plucking a young hibiscus bud]:

 

[Hi, from me]

 

[Presenting him with the bud]:

 

Hello.

 

Loving being hand-fed:

 

Hello.

 

Off and running after another mommy-cuddle break:

 

Hello.

 

Surveying his domain from the entrance of his burrow:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the border around the lawn:

 

Hello.

 

Crossing from the grass to the back of his burrow:

 

Hello.

 

Taking another break for mommy cuddles:

 

Hello.

 

(This pic is weird. It looks like I’m wearing bronzer or blush or contour or something on the side of my face, and I’m totally not. I don’t understand how shadows and lighting work.)

Being fed Romaine lettuce by his daddy:

 

Hello.

 

Still eating lettuce:

 

Hello.

 

Basking in the late-afternoon sun in front of his burrow, even as the sun moved:

 

Hello.

 

Soaking, bathing, and hydrating (the next time I saw him after his emergence):

 

Hello.

 

All is clear in the laundry room today.

 

Hello.

 

The End. Or, “Good-bye,” as Geronimo would say.

 

 

Geronimo update: Hibernation, then not, and now for real. (Desert tortoise update!)

A week after I posted my last Geronimo update post, we stopped seeing our little guy nighttime temperatures had dropped below the mid-50’s. He was right on schedule for hibernation. I thought it’d be months before I’d see my little boy again. Then, about four weeks later, I went outside to find that he was out!! SURPRISE!

 

Hello.

 

It was November 11, Veteran’s Day. Of course I thought he’d come out to wish his mommy a happy Veteran’s Day. He’d been out of sight for weeks, and then suddenly, there he was! The temps had risen again. It was like a false hibernation had happened.

My day was totally made. Geronimo roamed around his universe (our yard his yard) and ate everything in sight. I helped.

I fed him hibiscus flowers.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

I fed him hibiscus leaves.

 

Hello.

 

CHOMP.

 

Hello.

 

He went around eating weeds. I shadowed him everywhere he went, and he loved it. “Where are we going, Geronimo?”

He loves all of the weeds in the yard.

 

Hello.

 

ALL of the weeds.

 

Hello.

 

He loves the grass.

 

Hello.

 

ALL of the grass.

 

Hello.

 

He loves plowing through fallen Bougainvillea petals!

 

Hello.

 

He loves to see me sitting on the patio. If I stop following him, he comes to me.

 

Hello.

 

He loves, he loves, he loves. That’s what Geronimo does. (And he says “hello.”)

When he finally made his way to the path behind his burrow, I knew he was heading in… maybe for good, this time. I went around the front and crouched down in my usual spot so he could meet me at his doorway.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

My heart!

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Then I watched his butt disappear into his burrow. I haven’t seen it since.

 

Good-bye.

 

That was just about two weeks ago, and I know that my precious scale-son is in for the winter for real this time. These last two days, we’ve been having some weather (AZ-speak for “rain”), and once we get weather in the colder months, the desert tortoises settle in for their long sleep.

Sweet dreams, Geronimo. See you in 2020!

 

 

Guess who came out of hibernation?!! Hint: it starts with GERONIMO. (Desert tortoise update!)

Last week Thursday afternoon, the last day of February, I was walking back into the house from the laundry room when I saw something out of the ordinary from the corner of my eye. Something on the rocks. Something large. It was dome-shaped, lumpy, and vaguely dappled in dusty earth tones. It looked like…

GERONIMO.

It was Geronimo!!!!

Who knew we’d see him again as early as February?! Well, it was the last day of February, but still. We were thinking he’d emerge in late March, maybe early April.

For some reason, I’d envisioned him stepping out of his burrow as if on a red carpet with trumpeters on each side to herald his return. He would march out to reclaim his domain in full Geronimo fashion.

Instead, I found him sitting still on the rocks, covered in dirt and nearly blending in, as desert tortoises are wont to do. His manner of return was perfect.

I went running to him, of course, and his adorable little face poked out of his shell as he blinked “hello” at me. He stretched out his neck and tilted his head up when I petted his nose. I stroked one side of his neck for a while, and then he turned his head in the opposite direction so I could get the other side.

I flew back into tortoise mom mode. A good soaking was in order! Geronimo needed to be hydrated after his long sleep. Hot water gushed from the garden hose for a few minutes before it gave way to the lukewarm temperature Geronimo requires. He sat in his bath and drank water and squirted it through his nostrils.

He got his second soaking today. He likes to soak in the shade, so I propped a parasol on the ground to make an awning over his bath.

Six days post-hibernation, he’s still moving a little slowly; he’s not quite back to his tall, robust, rowdy self. He’ll walk a little, plop down and doze off, then wake up and walk again. He shuffles hither and yon in search of snacks, which are everywhere. He eats the spring grasses on the lawn and the weeds in the rocks with impressive appetite. When he’s not eating, he spends most of his time near his burrow, on and around his burrow’s terrain. He also naps in the entrance of his burrow. At sundown, he goes all the way back in for the night.

THIS GUY. IS SO. CUTE.

Geronimo’s been coming out of his burrow for six days now. Of course, I’ve been taking all kinds of pics. Here he is in all his 2019 glory. He’s 21 years old now!

Geronimo says “hello.”

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello and good night.

 

Hello and good morning.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Good-bye.

 

Good-bye.

 

Good-bye.

 

How I missed his little elephant legs!!!!

 

 

Good night and good luck, Geronimo. (Desert tortoise update!)

Let’s talk about Geronimo one last time in 2018!

Geronimo has left the building. I mean, he’s gone into the building. He’s gone into his building. He’s gone into his burrow. He’s gone… for the rest of the year, and for the first few months of next year. Our beloved Sonoran desert tortoise has gone into hibernation. We won’t see him again until April or May.

The last time we saw him was November the 7th.

This is absolutely natural and expected, and it’s uneventful as such. However, I’m a new tortoise mom entering our first hibernation cycle, and as such, the next five months are going to go slowly. I’m not used to having animal babies who leave for five months. I miss him already! He’s spoiled us with his robust energy and affectionate personality, his always wanting to be with us and loving to be hand-fed and getting pets and scritches on his head and neck and under his chin and on the sides of his face and the tip of his nose. He loves human company and he loves to interact, so his absence is palpable.

It was interesting watching him progress to this point… to watch him gently fade away.

He ate with great appetite throughout the summer, growing more voracious as September gave way to October. Our yard – his yard – is a bottomless buffet of grasses, hibiscus flowers, hibiscus leaves, and weeds. He loves it all. He continued eating heartily throughout October, but with the last ten days of the month came cooler nights, and he slowed down with his eating. He hung out in his burrow more, even though daytime temperatures still registered in the 80’s. Sometimes he’d come out and bask in the sun for a little while before going back in.

Toward the end of the first week of November – last week – we’d look in and talk to him as he sat in his burrow. He wouldn’t come out. He sat just inside, toward the entrance, but not down at the bottom. Then we’d see him at the bottom with just his face visible. He’d take a few steps out toward us, then turn around and sit with his back to us.

On November 7, I looked in and saw his little face. He was looking at me. He blinked as I spoke to him, as he seems to do as a way of interacting with us. And that was it. He’s turned the corner at the bottom of his burrow to snuggle in for the winter, completely undetectable.

Here are some pics from mid-October:

 

Making his way up the path to his burrow…

 

Geronimo in the early fall

 

This guy will be so missed during hibernation!

 

It’s a relief that he’s been deemed healthy to hibernate and he can now do his natural thing, but of course I’m wringing my hands just a little. As I said, I’m not used to having animal babies who go away for five months out of the year.

See you next year, Geronimo!