The Catalina Mountains: Babad Do’ag I and II (with audio)

Truth: I’m in a love affair with the mountains bordering Tucson to the north, the Catalinas, Babad Do’ag (‘Frog Mountain’) to the Tohono O’odham who rightfully belong to this valley.

When I first moved to Tucson back in 2013, for a Masters program at UofA, I rented a place with a flat-roofed carport and a ladder built-in to climb up. The view was breath-taking every time I’d go up there no matter what time of day or night, so I’d go up there nearly every day, but almost always at sunset in order to witness the radiance of the Catalinas.

They turn an unimaginable orange, rosier by the minute, down to a deep purple, then indigo. And the way they light up, almost literally glow, also astonishes me, their brightness matched only by any clouds in the sky. The promise of that spectacle in the sky is an antidote to cloud-covered days: it helps on a miserable sunless day to know that at the end of it there will probably be a spectacular show.

But no matter what, at the end of the day, there are the Catalinas, resplendent, awing.

Babad Do'ag I                                        15 December 2022
Lucca Daniel Green
These mountains awaken with the dawn,
a refulgent Tyrian fantasy across the sky,
deep-hued and hazily hewn, uncaffeinated.

At dusk they flare, vibrantly luminous,
a spectacle of clementines and blood,
greetings given twice daily, to the Sun,
Father of all beneath Earth's blue barrier.

I feel these mountains inside myself, and their daily rituals to the sun have become mine as well. By these mountains I was trained to honor the sun, trained frankly by my wonder at their sheer brilliance every evening. Even after I moved back to Michigan in 2015, I still went outside at sunset for a moment for reflection and awe. These mountains are one of the seeds planted in me that have grown into my urge for reintegration with the natural world.

Even better, ever since I managed to finally shift my natural alarm to 6-7ish, I’ve been able to experience sunrise as I rise—as opposed to sunrises interrupting another all-night vigil or else happening before I wake up—and so I’ve become even more like these mountains.

The mountains and I rise as dawn rises with our dreams whispered into the sky, only half-realizing groggily that we are our own dreams, that we are each other’s dreams. Then as the sun begins to set, the mountains and I come fully to life, awash in our powers and energetically urgent; we stand facing the setting sun beaming his last onto our faces, and all that is me and all that is mountain and all that is sun blend together in a feverish delirium.

Babad Do'ag II                                        21 December 2022
Lucca Daniel Green
Like that mountain, I stand tall, as if unencumbered
despite the weight of the sky overhead.
I am the adamantine core of that mountain,
an unseen determination, an unexpected endurance.
Like that mountain, I was raised on strife's frictions.

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