Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Happy Thanksgiving All

100 Reasons I Have to be Thankful

My new great-granddaughter, Savannah Kay.

My new great-granddaughter, Savannah Kay.

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” Zig Ziglar

In no particular order, I’m thankful:

  1. I survived the year in good health, and still with an adventurous spirit.
  2. My new great-granddaughter, Savannah Kay.
  3. That nearly 40 years ago I stopped believing I had to be perfect, because I’m surely not.
  4. New friends I’ve made this year. and the old friends who have managed to hang with me. Friends are one of the greatest gifts of life.
  5. Pink and lavender sunrises and orange and gold sunsets (and all the other colored ones) that enrich my days.

    Tucson sunset from my front balcony. -- Photo by Pat Bean

    Tucson sunset from my front balcony. — Photo by Pat Bean

  6. Pepper, my canine companion, who will turn three on December 1.
  7. I’m doing drawing and water coloring again after a 10-year absence – and grateful I don’t think my art has to be perfect.
  8. Authors who write the books I love to read.
  9. I can afford to pay for adequate health insurance when so many can’t.
  10. Mother Nature’s many wonders, which help keep me sane in today’s chaotic world.
  11. My role as matriarch of a family that includes five children, 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, and of course thankful for them as well.
  12. I live in a country where a lone female, like me, can travel across this country alone without a male escort or fear of being stoned.
  13. Story Circle Network, a supportive group of female writing colleagues who daily enrich this writer’s life.
  14. My small, third-floor walkup apartment that sits in the shadow of the Catalina Mountains.

    The Catalina Mountains from my bedroom balcony. -- Photo by Pat Bean

    The Catalina Mountains from my bedroom balcony. — Photo by Pat Bean

  15. The hummingbirds, verdins and finches that almost daily empty my feeders, and for all the other magical birds that flit around my life.
  16. Beautiful blank journals for me to fill.
  17. Learning something new, hopefully every day.
  18. My new car, Cayenne.
  19. The music of rain and thunderstorms, and the rainbows that follow.
  20. Spell check, even if it’s imperfect, too.
  21. Soft pajamas and fleece blankets to snuggle in.
  22. Tie-Dye T-shirts to feed the flower child in me.
  23. Caring people.
  24. The Internet that almost always has an answer to my many questions, and which keep me connected to family, friends and writing colleagues.
  25. A hot bath in a comfortable tub, the one thing I missed during my RV-ing days.
  26. Mornings, with a cup of bold, cream laced coffee and a too-full list of things I want to do.
  27. Tucson’s desert flowers, especially the blooming red bird of paradise bush.
  28. Moisturizing cream.
  29. Manicures and pedicures, when I can afford them.
  30. Smiles and laughter.
  31. Pleasant surprises.
  32. A stiff Jack and Coke with a friend and good conversation.
  33. Maples, redwoods, live oaks and all other trees that reach to the sky while remaining rooted to the earth. Yup, you guessed it. I’m a tree-hugger.

    Autumn in Ramsey Canyon. -- Photo by Pat Bean

    Autumn in Ramsey Canyon. — Photo by Pat Bean

  34. That I overcame my childhood angst and came to love my mother so much that I still miss her.
  35. Being a writer, because it’s through the written word that I get to experience the world twice, and also learn what I really think about it.
  36. Hugs.
  37. The Colorado, Snake, Green and Salmon rivers for all the thrills they gave me during my white-water rafting days, and all the river rats who shared the daytime excitement and the nighttime campfires and tall tales.
  38. Good chocolate .
  39. Scenic byways and back roads.
  40. A great pen, (Uniball Vision Elite, bold black).
  41. Massages.
  42. Hiking trails, easy ones these days.
  43. My almost daily e-mail from a daughter-in-law, and weekly calls from my children.

    I'm thankful for hiking trails that lead me into the midst of Mother Nature's wonders. -- Photo by Pat Bean

    I’m thankful for hiking trails that lead me into the midst of Mother Nature’s wonders. — Photo by Pat Bean

  44. My monthly Social Security check.
  45. My digital camera and my old-fashioned cell phone.
  46. Audible books that let me listen far into the night and still rest my tired eyes and be comfortable.
  47. A virus and malware-free computer.
  48. Kind people.
  49. WordPress for hosting this blog.
  50. Comfortable shoes and clean white sox
  51. The wolf tattoo that I was brave enough to get on my 75th birthday this year – and for the wolves return to Yellowstone.
  52. For art and music that touches my soul, and their creators.
  53. That despite evidence to the contrary, I still believe peace might someday be the norm on this planet we share with a multitude of cultures and religions.
  54. For the aurora borealis, which I still hope one day to see.
  55. For my writing desk that looks out onto trees and a red-tiled roof visited often by ravens.
  56. A sky full of stars.
  57. My Kindle.
  58. Scented candles.
  59. My curiosity, which hopefully I’ll never lose.
  60. Clean kitchen drawers, which reminds me of something that should go on my to-do list for next week.
  61. Waterfalls and lake reflections.
  62. New experiences.
  63. A long snail mail from a friend.

    purple mountain

    Purple mountain majesty. — Photo by Pat Bean

  64. National and state parks.
  65. Board games with competitive people.
  66. My small crockpot.
  67. Electricity, hot water, heaters and air conditioners.
  68. My African safari, and other travels, that live on in my little gray cells.
  69. Glasses that let these old eyes continue to read.
  70. Stained glass windows.
  71. The nighttime howls of coyotes, as long as they don’t eat my Pepper in the daytime.
  72. Libraries and bookstores.
  73. Good movies, like “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
  74. Christmas Trees.
  75. A good haircut.
  76. Live theater.
  77. A gift of flowers.
  78. The pair of Cooper hawks that I saw grow from egg, to chick, to free flying this past year. They were raised in a tall tree I could see from my living room balcony.
  79. The color red.
  80. Butterflies.

    I'm thankful for butterflies and flowers. -- Photo by Pat Bean

    I’m thankful for butterflies and flowers. — Photo by Pat Bean

  81. Agatha Christie mysteries. I’m currently reading all of the Hercule Poirot books in order and am once again enchanted by her masterful writing.
  82. Wildlife and nature sanctuaries, like Ramsey Canyon that I recently visited.
  83. Texas bluebonnets, which I saw in April, and the always colorful front garden flowers here at my apartment complex. .
  84. My armchair travels of the world.
  85. Thanksgiving dinner with family.
  86. Dragons and castles in a cloudy sky.
  87. Good ice cream. Blue Bell in Texas and Blue Bunny here in Tucson.
  88. Helen Reddy singing “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar.”
  89. My wrinkles, because I earned them.
  90. America’s purple mountain majesties and fields of amber grain.

    ge3

    I’m thankful for my curiosity, and for this planet’s nearly 10,000 bird species.

  91. Shade on a sunny day.
  92. My trip to the zoo this week with a three-year-old great-grandson.
  93. Cheesecake.
  94. For completing the fourth rewrite of my book, “Travels with Maggie,” hopefully leaving only a fifth proofreading task ahead.
  95. The strong women who came before me.
  96. The overhead honking of Canada geese.
  97. A comfortable bed.
  98. The scent of gardenia, which always makes me think of my grandmother.
  99. Wind chimes.
  100. And all my blog followers.

 

Read Full Post »

fall leaves

Autumn in Ramsey Canyon. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

  “I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me — I am happy.” — Hamlin Garland, McClure’s, February 1899

Point of Interest for a Non-Wandering Wanderer           

Miniature waterfalls were around every bend. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Miniature waterfalls were around every bend. — Photo by Pat Bean

  Ramsey Canyon, south of Tucson, is one of North America’s hottest birding spots – but not in November. In November, it is just a delightful place for a hike and a delicious feast for the eyes.

My son Lewis and I got to the  Nature Conservancy visitor center early, and paid our $6 to gain access to the canyon. The first two amazing things I noticed different from the usual Sonoran Desert landscape was water in the form of a spring-fed stream bubbling down the canyon — and trees, lots of tall, stately giants, and broad-branched monarchs that made me want to clamber up into their arms.

My son Lewis near the start of the trail. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My son Lewis near the start of the trail. — Photo by Pat Bean

Lewis said it was the trees, which Tucson lacked, that kept me oohing and ahhing almost continually.

But we have trees in Tucson, I said.

“Not like these, or this many,” he replied

He was right. While my apartment complex does have a few, out-of-habitat and bedraggled evergreens, and a few black olive trees, most of the ones I see around Tucson are short mesquites and leafless, green-trunked palo verdes. .

Growing tall and regal between Ramsey’s Canyon walls were maples and sycamores. The towering and mottled-white limbs of the sycamores were enchanting, as were the autumn leaves of the maple trees, sights I don’t normally see in Tucson proper.

Located in the Huachuca Mountains, the canyon is renowned for its scenic beauty, its diversity of plants, and the birds that visit it in the spring and summer. The one other time I visited it, about eight years ago on an April day, I went for the birds – and was not disappointed. While I only saw a few birds this trip, I was still not disappointed.

Painted redstart.

Painted redstart.

The Ramsey Canyon hike is only a mile up and back, although hikers can add some length to the trail by continuing on to the top of a ridge, which Lewis did. I chose to hike back down canyon slowly, taking time to breathe in Mother Nature’s beauty and to take some photographs.

As I crossed a bridge near a splash and play area, I was rewarded with the sight of a pair of painted redstarts. I felt that Lewis, also an avid birder, would be put out that he hadn’t seen them. Thankfully the bird wouldn’t be a lifer for him. And when I told him about the redstart, he was too happy he had seen an Arizona woodpecker, which was a lifer, to envy my sighting.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat A Window into the Woods http://tinyurl.com/k2wrq5a Now that my son, Lewis, is back home in Texas, these are birds he can see every day.

Read Full Post »

This singer is a common yellowthroat that I usually come across in marshy areas near water, which hums its own melodies as it swishes against a bank or over rocks. -- Art by Pat Bean

This singer is a common yellowthroat that I usually come across in marshy areas near water, which hums its own melodies as it swishes against a bank or over rocks. — Art by Pat Bean

And a Song

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”  — Harriet Tubman

And a Song   

            Bean Pat: http://tinyurl.com/p9rzz9g I came across this blog this morning and found myself transplanted back in time by words that ring even truer to me today. I marveled at younger faces of singers whose music continues to be sung. How many of them can you recognize?

 

Read Full Post »

Mornings

            “It is in the early morning hour that the unseen is seen, and that the far-off beauty and glory, vanquishing all their vagueness, move down upon us till they stand clear as crystal close over against the soul.” ~Sarah Smiley

I find mornings magical, a gift to me from Mother Nature. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I find mornings magical, a gift to me from Mother Nature. — Photo by Pat Bean

The Peaceful Time

I filled my nectar feeder this morning for the first time in weeks, having stopped the ritual because of summer bee season here at my apartment complex.

Verdins feed more at my nectar feeder than hummingbirds. I love watching them. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Verdins feed more at my nectar feeder than hummingbirds. I love watching them. — Photo by Pat Bean

As I sat in my living room chair, staring out at it through the open balcony door, a black-chinned hummingbird, perhaps the same one that has been regularly checking the empty feeder, stopped by for breakfast. It was soon joined by a verdin, a tiny bird that is as common as hummingbirds at my feeder.

While hummingbirds usually chase off their own species wanting to feed at the same time, these two peacefully shared the wealth. I wondered why I had taken so long to start filling the feeder again.

And then I drank in my favorite time of day. Too often it’s the only time of day my chaotic brain ceases to race through life. The desert morning was cool and still, making me feel as if I were the only human up and moving around at this moment  in time – just seconds before the sun would bring reality to a world full of good and evil, and beauty and ugliness. The air was tinged with magic, and my soul filled with peace as I gratefully accepted Mother Nature’s gift.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: The rest of the story http://tinyurl.com/lkx3jz9  I guess Ruth never heard about Paul Harvey. By the way, I’m laughing with this blogger because I’ve been in her position. Sometimes what we think is interesting, readers find less so.

Woman of the Mountain http://tinyurl.com/kpuqh4w A  Blue Ridge Parkway hero.  

            .

Read Full Post »

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”  — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was 43 years old when I experienced my first white water adventure. Within the next week, I had bought my own raft, and for the next 20 years running rapids was my passion. The river taught me much about myself.

I was 43 years old when I experienced my first white water adventure. Within the next week, I had bought my own raft, and for the next 20 years running rapids was my passion. The river taught me much about myself.

A Long Swim

Being a writer and journal keeper, the artifacts of my life are found in words, like those that popped up yesterday when I was going through a box of photographs. Among the pictures was a faded proof of a story I wrote as a personal newspaper column back in 1988.

Who knows what is going to pop up when you're going through artifacts of your life? == Photo by Pat Bean

Who knows what is going to pop up when you’re going through artifacts of your life? == Photo by Pat Bean

While the story is about an incident that will forever be hazily embedded in my brain, the words I had written, when the details were fresh and new, brought back the memory in vivid, living color. I just love being a writer.

Here’s what I wrote over a quarter of a century ago – with a bit of judicious editing because I’m a better writer, if not a better rafter, these days.

            PIECE-OF-CAKE RAPID, SALMON, RIVER, IDAHO – I knew before it happened that it was going to happen. I was going swimming. Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy swimming. But I didn’t have the slightest yen to take a dip in a fast-flowing, bubbling, chilly rapid.

            The last piece of advice given me by White Otter River guide, Randy Hess, as I stepped for the very first time into a one-person, inflatable kayak, was “Just keep it straight. These babies are steady and designed so they slice nicely through the water.”

            Somehow he forgot to say: “But don’t let the kayak get turned broadside to the rapid or it will flip.”

            Actually I already knew that. I had even been down this stretch of the Salmon River before, only in a large paddle raft with six people to keep the rubber boat pointed downstream.          

An eagle on shore spotted during one of my annual floats down the Snake River below Jackson Wyoming. -- Photo by Pat Bean

An eagle on shore spotted during one of my annual floats down the Snake River below Jackson Wyoming. — Photo by Pat Bean

   Today, however, I quickly realized that I didn’t have the hang of maneuvering my wobbly (Randy lied. It wasn’t steady) craft, or the skill to easily use the two-bladed paddle, which was also a first for me.

            I might have had a chance to overcome the learning curve if the first rapid, Piece-of-Cake, named I’m sure by some maniacal jokester, hadn’t been within sight of the launch point.

            “Stay to the left,” I heard Randy, who was nearby in his hard-body kayak, yell at me.

            I was able do that, but I didn’t have enough control to swing the raft around to meet the oncoming second wave – and so I flipped.

            “Sh-ee-it!” I uttered as I flew out of the boat just a couple of minutes after getting into it. As the water drowned my exclamation, I told myself to just go with the flow, and almost immediately I bounced off the river bottom and back up to where the air was less thick to breathe – until a mean wave reburied me beneath the water again.

            But finally I managed to get my life-jacketed, and thankfully wet-suited body above the waves, and then quickly pointed my feet downstream, so they, and not my head, would hit any rock obstacle in the way. This wasn’t my first time being dumped in fast-flowing water.

            The current, however, stramded me in a patch of tricky backwash.  Sh-ee-it! I managed to get my favorite “I’m-gonna-die” word out this time before another kayaker came up beside me.

            “Grab on,” she said. I didn’t have to be asked twice. But with my weight hanging on to her hard-shelled kayak, she couldn’t escape the backwash, and although my kayak was just on the other side of her, I couldn’t get to it.

            Finally the expert, Randy, comes in to save the day, maneuvering his kayak so I can grab hold of it. I breathe a sigh of relief, figuring I’m now in capable hands.   

            The feeling was short-lived. In a rare, slow-motion moment, Randy’s kayak flips When I realize I still have hold of the boat, and am hindering Randy’s attempts to roll up, I let go. The rapid immediately takes me to the middle of the river, shoving more water down my throat until the waves subsist and I’m floating in calm water. Exhausted now, I wait to be rescued.

            I ride in the group’s raft with the lunch supplies for a while, but then get back in that dang inflatable kayak and spend the rest of the day without mishap.

            The kayakers later congratulate me for dumping Randy, a “pretty sight” they say they had never seen before. An abashed Randy then gives me “The Salmon River Swimming Championship Award,”

            “I think the river,” he said, “was a bit high today.” And then he grins.  –30

A few years later, when the water wasn’t quite so high, I got back in another dang inflatable kayak and with a granddaughter by my side in a second inflatable kayak, stayed in the boat through Piece-of-Cake Rapid and the rest of the day’s float trip. No rewards for me this day, only a deeply felt satisfaction in my soul.          

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

  Bean Pat: A new mindset http://tinyurl.com/ovy7yh9 Ditto what this blogger wrote.

Read Full Post »

“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.

 

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 724 other followers