Chorale, Cul-de-sac and . . . Chupacabra?

To maintain safe social distance, my chorus has been meeting outside in a neighborhood cul-de-sac.  We’re masked and standing six feet apart. We meet after dark and we each bring an illumination device, such as a clip-on light, or a head lamp or maybe even a wrap-around flashlight you wear on your neck. Whatever type we use, it only illuminates the music we are holding – even combined they do nothing to dispel the darkness around us.

One of the chorus members brings her service dog with her. He sits quietly at her feet, usually gazing into the darkness behind us. But every now and then, he’ll growl, sometimes barking at something unseen behind us.

phWhat is in the darkness? One of the usual nocturnal desert creatures? Perhaps a Great Horned Owl, a coyote or a Gila Monster.  We stop, look and listen, but the intruder is not identified.

photo of gila monster
Image courtesy of jessiegirl413 from Pixabay

Of course, my murder-mystery-writer’s-imagination suspects it isn’t merely an ordinary animal, but something much more sinister. Is it one of the infamous el chupacabra? Or perhaps a thunderbird? Maybe it is merely a ghost or evil spirit.

illustration of a dragon monster
Monster image courtesy of Eric Labayle from Pixabay

Chupacabra translates to “goat sucker.” The story goes that sheep and goats were found with puncture wounds in their chests with their blood drained out. Initially, descriptions were of a reptilian creature with spikes. Red eyes and fangs enhanced its fierceness. However, more recently the chupacabra is described as a breed of wild, hairless dog with a prominent ridge and, of course, fangs.

Or it might be a Thunderbird. I like large birds, but none of them, not even the golden eagle, can produce thunder from its wings and lightning from its beak. In some story versions, the feathers are knives. In the Sonoran Desert, my neighborhood, the thunderbird lived in a mountain cave. From its lair, the creature preyed upon Pima Indians, including men, women and children. Fortunately, the Pima warriors were able to defeat the thunderbirds.

So far, our chorus has emerged unscathed by the unseen dangers. But I’ll continue to be on alert, along with the canine chorus member. He’ll do his best to protect us, and I’ll fight by his side–even if it’s only a kangaroo rat.

#elaineapowers  #AZmyths  #Chupacabra  #Curtis Curly-tail  #LimeLizardLads

Book Note: I weave science into adventure tales, figuring if the learning is fun, the knowledge will stick. I’ve created three adventure series, Curtis Curly-tail Lizard, the Lime Lizard Lads, and Clarissa Catfish. The characters do not stay at home, they make mischief, and they have to face dangers–with the science of the animals and their ecosystems written into the stories. I hope you’ll check out these adventure tales today and weave some fun science into your children’s lives. See the book descriptions by clicking on the links below.

book covers curtis curly-tail
Four adventures so far! I meet Allison Andros Iguana in Curtis Curly-tail is Lizardnapped!
book covers lime lizard lads
Gene and Bony refuse to stay close to their den!
book covers clarissa catfish
All the humans get to see the wonders of the museums. So, Clarissa the Catfish decides she must, also!


Now That Dog Can Bark On Pitch!

I am a retired biologist who writes rhyming children’s science books. I’ve been questioned about this and I believe the rhyming happens because I’m also a musician and singer. I still sing in community choruses and one of them had to get creative with rehearsals and performances due to the pandemic. Many musical organizations have used video streaming services, creating combined videos (requiring expert technical ability).

My chorus sang outside in a cul-de-sac, masked and social distanced at least six feet apart. We gathered in the director’s neighborhood with our reading lights since the sun had long set. It was often a bit nippy and we had to dress accordingly. It was nice to be able to hear other singers, however muffled they were.

One of the other sopranos brought her Scottish terrier along. He was a well-behaved dog that sat quietly at her feet. However, the dog was aware of moving creatures going bump in the night. When one was detected, he would start with a low growl, then a short bark, alerting us to the approaching danger. One night his growling crescendoed to a series of barks, almost on pitch with the song we were singing. Since the director was recording us for a virtual concert, the terrier’s ad lib contribution was not appreciated.

The following week, the chorus sang a concert in another neighborhood. We stood in one of the yards.  We gathered and sorted ourselves into our voice-part groups, i.e. all the first sopranos together, second sopranos, first altos and second altos. The terrier had joined us, so I asked him what part he was singing.  The reply was…


Book Note: One of the educational books I set to rhyme is called Don’t Make Me Fly! Can you guess what it’s about?

Roadrunners, of course! It’s full of fun facts about them and fun to read and hear because of the rhyming verses. It’s also vividly illustrated and kids, young and old alike, really appreciate the powerful drawings. It makes a great book for the family, and for a book report on roadrunners. It’s available at

illustration of a desert roadrunner
Strong. Fast and Courageous, Roadrunner Doesn’t Need To Fly