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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

“The sound of colors is so definite that it would be hard to find anyone who would express bright yellow with bass notes, or dark lake with the treble.” – Wassily Kandinsky

We watched what looked like was going to be a dud of a sunset. Even when the sun slipped below the horizon, the sky barely glowed yellow. And then suddenly, as if someone finally remembered to turn on the painted gels, the sunset sky exceeded even our expectations. -- Photo by Pat Bean

We watched what looked like was going to be a dud of a sunset. Even when the sun slipped below the horizon, the sky barely glowed yellow. And then suddenly, as if someone finally remembered to turn on the painted gels, the sunset sky exceeded even our expectations. — Photo by Pat Bean

            “I’m an old-fashioned guy … I want to be an old man with a beer belly sitting on a porch, looking at a lake or something.” – Johnny Depp

Point of Interest

            I consider my trip last week – in which my friend Jean and I and our two loveable dogs, Pepper and Dusty, camped overnight beside Theodore Roosevelt Lake — as part of my current lifestyle as a non-wandering wanderer.

Roosevelt Lake Bridge is the longest two-lane, single span, steel arch bridge in North America.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Roosevelt Lake Bridge is the longest two-lane, single span, steel arch bridge in North America. — Photo by Pat Bean

I intend not to be one of those people I met during my travels who never saw the landscape marvels or points of interest in their own backyards.

And since Roosevelt Lake is only a leisurely three-hour, scenic drive from Tucson, I figured it close enough to at least be situated in the South 40 of my rented estate.

The western sky about 10 minutes before it burst into color.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

The western sky about 10 minutes before it burst into color. — Photo by Pat Bean

The lake, located north of Globe alongside Highway 188, was created when the Theodore Roosevelt Dam was erected on the Salt River in 1911.

With a length of 22 miles, a maximum width of two miles, and a maximum depth of almost 350 feet, the lake is Arizona’s largest. That is if you don’t count Lake Mead which sits partially in Nevada and Lake Powell which sits partially in Utah.

One of the best parts of spending the night at a campground is the opportunity to watch the sun go down, and then to sit around a campfire. Somehow tales are taller, and the world’s problems more solvable when you’re dodging smoke by continually moving your lawn chair a bit to the right or left.

Better yet, when the wind’s blowing the smoke away from you, as it was surprisingly doing for us this night as we sat around the fire with the dogs at our feet.

Sometimes life is just damn good.

Jean and I, and I suspect Pepper and Dusty, too, are already looking forward to our next campout. I hope it’s soon.

Bean Pat: A Mixed Bag http://tinyurl.com/padl2g3 When you find yourself in a hole.

 

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Fresh Eyes

             “The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time.” – Bill Bryson

Some days I look out from my bedroom window and see a Cooper's hawk or a great horned owl sitting on a branch in a nearby tree. Or I look down and see a black cat peering up at me from an apartment across the way. Each viewing in a first for the moment.

Some days I look out from my bedroom window and see a Cooper’s hawk or a great horned owl sitting on a branch in a nearby tree. Or I look down and see a black cat peering up at me from an apartment across the way. Each viewing in a first for the moment.

Seeing Things in a Different Light When I travel, I look at things differently. I think it’s because I expect to see something new that I’ve never seen before. The world always seems more interesting when I’m on the road.

Sunlight streams into my apartment on only a few winter days. But each day it flows in, the patterns are slightly different in the view I have from my kitchen. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Sunlight streams into my apartment on only a few winter days. But each day it flows in, the patterns are slightly different in the view I have from my kitchen. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m coming to realize, however, that travel is not a requirement for this to happen. Do the Catalina Mountains, which  currently provide the backdrop to my days, look different to a traveler seeing them for the first time? Would the crisp white blossoms of a saguaro cactus spell-mind the eyes of a traveler more impressively than they do my own eyes that have now been among them for two seasons? While travelers may only see the mountain range on a sunny day, or a misty day, or a rainy day, the joy of first sight can’t help but pump the adrenalin through the veins of any nature enthusiast. I envy those who are seeing these mountains for the first time, as I recall my first view of the Catalinas. . But now I’ve now been blessed to see this mountain range in its many moods.  I’ve watched the rocky mammoths as the morning sun crowned its peaks in a golden light, I’ve seen it as the evening sun has turned its rocky cliffs a glimmering rose hue, and I’ve seen it frosted with the sugary granules of snow. I’ve watched as globules of bright green atop a saguaro plant have opened into a disk of white petals with a pale ochre center. A traveler passing through the saguaro’s Arizona home in March might only see an awesome, statuesque cactus with arms stretching skyward, and might not know that such a beauty is likely to be 100 years old, or that it wears a headdress of white blooms in late May and early June. There are as many advantages to watching the passing landscape while rooted as there are in catching glimpses of Mother Nature’s wonders on the fly. One only has to retain that sense of awe so easily achieved at first sight. I suspect that in this late-blooming season of my life, there are still roads out there I will travel.  But in the meantime, I plan to follow Bill Bryson’s advice and try to look at the world around me be as if for the first time. I don’t think I will be disappointed.           

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Monica Devine http://tinyurl.com/ot8bqdb This blogger has an eye for seeing things in a new and exciting

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           “I am a wanderer passionately in love with life.” — Aleksandr Kuprin … Me, too.

Even gray days are colorful on a fall day traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Appalachian Mountains. -- Photo b Pat Bean

Even gray days are colorful on a fall day traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Appalachian Mountains. — Photo b Pat Bean

Rainy Fall Mornings

I woke up to a gentle rain this morning, with the hazy light of a gray sunrise streaming in through the slats of the shutters on my bedroom window. At night the narrow, rectangular blank spaces of this wooden curtain cast a pattern of light and shadow on the ceiling above my head.

Virginia creeper alongside the parkway. I do so love the color red -- Photo by Pat Bean

Virginia creeper alongside the parkway. I do so love the color red — Photo by Pat Bean

I often lie away and study this artful illumination, letting my mind drift into fantasy worlds. I don’t like sleeping in the dark, so I never close the shutters, preferring to let the  pale light that flows into my bedroom comfort me.

The first thing I do on awakening this morning is to go out on my balcony and stare at the mountains to the north of my third floor apartment. They are one of the reasons I have stayed put now for nearly two years.

These tall peaks that stretch nearly 10,000 feet up to the sky bring peace to my nest of bright new furniture and growing stacks of  books. I tried to take a photo of this morning’s misty mountain scene, but my camera battery was dead – and by the time I charged it, the mountains had been eaten by the mist, a sure sign it’s going to be a full gray day.

But that’s OK. I love gray days. They turn the mind inward and slow down the chaos of the world.

On this day two years ago, it was also raining. I was in Front Royal, Virginia, waiting at an almost deserted RV park for the rain to stop before I headed south on Skyline Trail through Shenandoah National Park and down the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Appalachian Mountains.

What a grand adventure that autumn was. But then this fall is charming, too. While my body may remain rooted to one place these days, my mind still travels the road. And autumn is a great time to travel wherever you are.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Things I love http://tinyurl.com/pcqvnhk One of my favorite bloggers captures nature at her artful best.

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            “What is the purpose of the giant sequoia tree? The purpose of the giant sequoia tree is to provide shade for the tiny titmouse.” – Edward Abbey

I've seen rainbows almost every day for the past week. I'm glad I took time to enjoy them. This one was seen from my bedroom balcony. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I’ve seen rainbows almost every day for the past week. I’m glad I took time to enjoy them. This one was seen from my bedroom balcony. — Photo by Pat Bean

And We’ve Had Rain        

Flowers pop out everywhere in the desert after a rain, and I tried to capture the transformation in this quick watercolor. -- Art by Pat Bean

Flowers pop out everywhere in the desert after a rain, and I think this old painting of mine well captures the excitement of such a transformation. 

     I finally got caught up on my e-mail, household chores and a few other things yesterday after doing little for the past week but watching old Survivor seasons (recently added to Amazon Prime) on my computer, reading a lot, and walking dogs.

I’m retired, and so I shouldn’t feel guilty – but I do.

I wonder what my purpose in life is these days?  It’s a question I’ve long pondered without coming up with a good answer.

Meanwhile, it feels good to once again have my fingers playing on my computer keyboard. And for today that’s enough. I’ve always found it best to simply live in the moment.

Bean Pat: Write like Han Solo http://tinyurl.com/kkuw8gs I found this to be a thought-provoking blog on writing.

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“You cannot forget, if you would, those golden kisses all over the cheeks of the meadow, queerly called dandelions.” – Henry Ward Beecher

I think a dandelion blooming on a manicured lawn is perfect. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I think a dandelion blooming on a manicured lawn is perfect. — Photo by Pat Bean

For Weedy Brains

There’s something in me that loves dandelions. Perhaps it is their cheery yellow petals that glimmer in the sun. Or maybe it’s their fragile, snow-like seeds that scatter after those petals have vanished.  I’ve long tried to capture that fanciful seed-blown storm in a sketches –- but always without success.

 

And I marvel at the miracle of rebirth that occurs wen the golden orb has turned to snowy seeds.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

And I marvel at the miracle of rebirth that occurs when the golden orb has turned to snowy seeds. — Photo by Pat Bean

I enjoy seeing a meadow of dandelions lightning up the side of a hill. But even more I enjoy seeing a single dandelion poking on a manicured lawn. Such  imperfection speaks to my heart because it makes the imperfect perfect.

I think I must have weeds growing in my brain. But that’s OK. I’ll water them anyway.

A Few More Weedy Thoughts        

“A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.” – Doug Lawson

            “Roses are red, violets are blue; But they don’t get around, like the dandelions do.” — Slim Acres

            “Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” — A.A. Milne

            “What would the world be, once bereft of wet and wildness? Let them be left … Long live the weeds and the wildness yet.” – Gerard Manley Hopkins        

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

    Bean Pat: The Iris and the Lily http://tinyurl.com/qd9kqby Step outside and take a walk through your garden . Or check out the Ghost Bear Photography,  http://tinyurl.com/k8a88d7 if you’re more ambitious. Nearby or far away, Mother Nature awes us.

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A Rainy Day in Tucson

      “Poetry is not the most important thing in life. I’d much rather lie in a hot bath reading Agatha  Christie and sucking sweets.” – Dylan Thomas

I was doing sky exercises with my watercolors, and came up with this one for a stormy day.

I was doing sky exercises with my watercolors, and came up with this one for a stormy day.

And It Captured too Much of my Attention 

It rained here in Tucson yesterday, a hard downpour that pretty much kept up a steady pace from early morning until mid-afternoon. I got drenched twice trying to walk dogs during pauses in the rain. But each time it began raining again before I could get back under a roof.

I  titled this one "After the Storm."

I titled this one “After the Storm.”

I’ve always loved rainstorms, but there seems to be something magical when rain falls in the desert. My neighbor said she watched the patterns of raindrops as they flowed on and off the leaves of the tree that shades her balcony for hours.

I also watched the rain — but only for a few minutes at a time. Even as an old broad, it’s hard for me to stay still doing nothing for long.

Instead, I found myself frequently glancing at the rain out the window that sits in front of my computer, while I tried to do a serious job of line-proofing my book, “Travels With Maggie.” It seemed like a good occupation for a rainy day.

Or maybe not.

I just reread some of what I had proofed yesterday, and found missed mistakes. Some days I don’t think there is an end in sight.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Martha died 100 years ago this month.  http://tinyurl.com/pvoaxsk Who is Martha, you ask? Check out this blog and find out.

 

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Ugly Furniture

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose.” – Arthur Conan Doyle

Be it a string of berries or a colorful sunrise, Mother Nature always has beauty to share. -- Photo by Pat Bean.

Be it a string of berries or a colorful sunrise, Mother Nature always has beauty to share. — Photo by Pat Bean.

But I Didn’t Complain

            One of the things I told myself, when getting rid of all my furniture and stuff in preparation for living in a small RV so I could fulfill my lifetime travel dreams, was that when I finally settled down again, I would have the fun of decorating my new home from scratch.

I love this photo of my and my daughter, Deborah, taken when she was only five days old -- but not the chair I'm sitting in.

I love this photo of me and my daughter, Deborah, taken when she was only five days old — but not the chair I’m sitting in.

And that’s exactly what I did nine years later, nine years in which I learned that I didn’t need much “stuff,” because I had no room for it. My new goal was not to bring a single item of furniture into my newly rented small apartment unless I absolutely loved it.

I thought about that the other day when I came across a picture of me holding my precious first child when she was only five days old. In the past, all I’ve seen when I looked at this valued photo was a too-young-mother, who was coming to realize she had married the wrong man, a fact she wouldn’t undo for four more babies and another 21 years.

This time, however, I noticed the chair I was sitting in for the picture. That set off a string of different memories.

 

Everything is light and bright, with lots of red, in the nest I've created for myself since giving up the RV life. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Everything is light and bright, with lots of red, in the nest I’ve created for myself since giving up the RV life. — Photo by Pat Bean

Three weeks before my baby was due, my husband had found a new job that would require us to move from Houston to Lake Jackson, 50 miles south on the Texas Gulf Coast. His parents had arrived from Dallas to help us move, but that same night I went into labor. By morning, I was holding my daughter in my arms. We were going to name her Debra Leigh, and I had spelled it out for my husband. Instead,  he signed her birth certificate and named her Deborah Lee.

Then, while I remained in the hospital in Houston, he and his parents moved the few belongings from our furnished Houston apartment to an unfurnished apartment in Lake Jackson. The three of them then went shopping. and bought brand new living room, dining room and bedroom furniture.

I almost cried when I finally saw the furniture, especially the couch and chair, which were a drab, grayish brown plaid that already looked old. But in those days, I kept my feelings to myself. The dinette set was gray with gray plastic covered aluminum chairs, and the bedroom set a plain, pale blonde without any distinguishing features.

I had to live with that furniture for years. But I never complained. I think the latter is the sad part.

Bean Pat:  A little tune http://tinyurl.com/lwg37fc Just a cheerful photo to cheer your day. Mother Nature is so awesome. I hope you always have time to enjoy her. It was her beauty that helped sustain me when I had little beauty to enjoy behind walls.

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