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Benches

The Blue Bench — painted by Pat Bean

“Truly the bench is a boon to idlers. Whoever first came up with the idea is a genius: free public resting places where you can take time out from the bustle and brouhaha of the city, and simply watch and reflect.” – Tom Hodgkinson

Sitting, Watching and Listening

Dock benches at Tom’s Cove Campground on Chincoteague Island in Virginia. — Photo by Pat Bean

When I was a beginning birdwatcher, I thought patience was only an activity for couch potatoes. This non-activity simply wasn’t part of my vocabulary – or my life. But the birds I wanted to see didn’t always, in fact seldom, showed up in a timely fashion.

“Learn to sit quietly for half an hour and you won’t be disappointed,” a birding mentor told me. But 10 minutes was all I could manage for the first couple of years. I had to work up to it, but finally I caught on.

A bench at the Amherstburg Navy Yard in Ontario, Canada.

 

And once I did that, I began looking for places with interesting views to sit. And lo and behold I discovered the joy of benches. The blue one above, which I painted from a photograph (below left),

was located at Lake Walcott State Park in Southern Idaho. It looked out over a meadow filled with tall, grassy reeds where yellow-headed blackbirds could frequently be found.

The benches on the top left were located on a dock on Chincoteague Island in Virginia, where I spent a week. Gulls and boat-tail grackles liked to gather here.

And the photo on the right above was taken in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada, where I watched a blue-winged teal swim about in the harbor and house sparrows pecking about in flowerbeds.

Sitting on a bench, in a delectable nature setting, has now become one of my “activities.”

It is much better any day than sitting meditation, which so far, I haven’t managed to do for more than five minutes at a time. My busy brain just won’t turn off when Mother Nature, and birds, aren’t around to keep my attention focused.

I guess you can now call me a bench potato.

Bean Pat: The Page Turner http://tinyurl.com/y9b2y3z3 Enjoy the photography of John Macdonald. I did.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is soon to be released. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

Cavanal Mountain

A great egret fishing the Poteau River below the Lake Wister Dam near Poteau, Oklahoma. — Photo by Pat Bean

Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!” – William Butler Yeats  

Making a Mountain out of a Hill 

           For the nine years in which my home was on the road in a small RV with my canine companion, Maggie, I called myself a wondering-wanderer. It’s because as I drove across North America, through its golden fields of grain and mind-boggling redwood forests, and often went to sleep beside a gurgling body of water, my mind was always asking questions.

Cavanal: World’s Tallest Hill in Poteau, Oklahoma

A week spent at Lake Wister State Park near Poteau, Oklahoma, got me thinking about the difference between a mountain and a hill. That’s because Poteau’s Chamber of Commerce promotes the city as home of the world’s tallest hill, but that hill is officially called Cavanal Mountain.

What I easily learned, from bit of geological research, is that a landscape feature is a mountain if it is 2,000 feet or taller, and a hill if it is less than 2,000 feet tall. Cavanal Mountain is 1,999-feet tall.

The road up to the top of Cavanal Mountain.

Once I put my wondering mind at ease, I was able to enjoy my stay on the park’s tiny Quarry Island, which was accessed by a short bridge.

I awoke each morning to the sound of a chipper mockingbird greeting the day from the top of the picnic table outside my window. Lake Wister, created when a dam on the Poteau River was completed in 1949, also greeted me every morning. It was visible out both my front and rear windows as Quarry Island was quite narrow.

Maggie and I took frequent walks around the island. It was a great week in which my wondering mind did a lot of wandering.

Bean Pat: Deep in my Bones http://tinyurl.com/yayrrvgf A lot to howl about. This reminds me of the night I howled with the wolves, which I write about in Travels with Maggie.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is soon to be released. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

Goodie Two-Shoes

 

The cover of the 1888 edition of Goody Two-Shoes. — Wikimedia photo

“Enjoy the satisfaction that comes from doing little things well.” — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I No Longer is One, Thank Gawd!

By my own naming, I was a goodie two-shoes until I was in my mid-30s. By this, I mean I followed all the rules, never skipped school, made straight As, didn’t cuss or drink, and thought I had to be — and tried to be — the perfect wife and mother, which of course any sane person knows is impossible. I also thought the world was fair and justice would always triumph.

Wood cut from the 1768 edition of Good Two-Shoes. — Wikimedia photo

While it hurt deeply for me to accept that the world wasn’t fair, one of the best days of my life was the one in which I not only accepted that I didn’t have to be perfect, but that I no longer even wanted to be perfect.

Sometimes I ponder in amazement, and disbelief, about that person I used to be. Then, this morning, my wondering mind asked itself where the term goodie two-shoes originated.

Back in my goodie two-shoes’ days, and even for many years following, such wondering would have involved a long search at the library. Today I simply typed the words into the search engine on my computer and came up with the answer.

Goody Two-Shoes was the name of a children’s book published in London in 1765 by John Newbery, the Father of Children’s Literature, and for whom the Newbery Medal for children’s books is named.

The story, which was published anonymously, is a variation of the Cinderella tale. Goody Two-Shoes is the nickname of an orphan girl who goes through life with only one shoe. In the end, she becomes a teacher and marries a rich man as reward for her goodness.

Not like my life at all, is all this old-broad has to say to that. I just hope Goody ended up as happy with her life in the end as I am with my far-from-perfect life.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Tsawout Trails http://tinyurl.com/ydgpg8uj I took a refreshing armchair trail hike with the Old Plaid Camper this morning. Perhaps you would enjoy the scenic walk, too

The Purple Cow

Pepper and the Purple Cow. — Photo by Pat Bean

If you’re of an age like me, or even perhaps younger, you’ve probably quoted The Purple Cow Poem by Gelett Burgess. Written in 1895, one writer said it might be the most oft quoted poem of the 20th Century after The Night Before Christmas.

I never saw a purple cow

I never hope to see one;

But I can tell you, anyhow,

I’d rather see than be one!

Burgess, who published the poem in his 1895 wit and humor journal, finally grew tired of the poem. And so he wrote, in the 1897 final issue of The Lark,

Ah, yes, I wrote the “Purple Co

I’m Sorry, now, I wrote it;

But I can tell you Anyhow

I’ll Kill you if you Quote it!

Well, I’ve seen a purple cow, and so has my canine companion Pepper. She was a bit stumped by it, as you can see from the above photo. You can see it, to, if you visit The Waynesboro N. 340 Campground in Waynesboro, Virginia.

Bean Pat: The Shame of It. http://tinyurl.com/ydgd3gu4 This blog is long, and aimed at writers and ends with something to sell. In other words, it’s the kind of blog, well except for being aimed at writers, that I never give a shout out. But there is so much to ponder in it that I broke my own rules. I love this blog.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is soon to be released. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com 

A Green Desert?

 

The desert landscape from my daughter’s Marana home on the southwest outskirts of Tucson. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Just sometimes every damned thing goes right? – Yhprum’s Law

Yup! It’s Monsoon Season in the Sonoran Desert

The ocotillos are lush-leafed and the saguaros are pumped. That’s what happens when you get a week or so of heavy downpours.

An ocotillo in bloom at Catalina State Park north of Tucson. I took this photo while I was still traveling full-time in my RV, and before I ever dreamed I would end up living in Tucson. — Photo by Pat Bean

These two cacti abound in Tucson, whose human development, especially in the Catalina foothills where I live, is tucked between and above the washes and arroyos that have been allowed to remain undeveloped so as to carry the falling water away quickly. The fact that there’s a bit of wildness remaining in the city, some of which is just seconds away from my apartment complex, is one of the reasons I’ve come to love Tucson.

I also enjoy the mountain ranges that encircle the city: The Tucson Mountains to the west. the Rincon Mountains to the east, the Santa Rita Mountains to the south, and the Catalina Mountains that are my backyard to the northeast. The sides of these mountains are now tinged a verdant green because of all the rain. It’s a cool view, especially after the 115 plus temperatures that plagued Southeastern Arizona for weeks.

I’ll enjoy it while I can, as soon the ocotillos will lose their green leaves to conserve the little water they’ll get in the coming months. They will become simply brown, tall thorny stems sticking up from the ground. The saguaros, meanwhile, will grow skinnier again, using the rain water they inhaled to maintain themselves through the waterless desert months.

Watching the changes that take place in the landscape around me, from day-to-day and season to season, gives me great pleasure. It connects me to Mother Earth.

Bean Pat: So Much Yarn https://theeternaltraveller.wordpress.com/2017/07/19 Take an armchair tour of England’s Yorkshire Market.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is soon to be released. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

 

This photograph represents a magical moment in time that I relived when I came across this picture earlier today. — Photo by Pat Bean

“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.” – J.B. Priestly

Reliving a Magical Moment

Bridge to an island in the lake at Frank Jackson State Park in Alabama. — Photo by Pat Bean

There are magical moments in your life that you hold dear, and always want to remember. For me, those memories include the feeling I had when I held each of my five children for the first time, moments of watching them grow up and achieve, my own sense of achievements during my 37 years as a journalist, and the feeling I get at the end of any day in which I feel I accomplished something good.

Beyond this stuff of everyday life, however, there are the moments of joy and wonder that I’ve experienced in nature, experiences that I have had, and still do have, that keep me sane in a chaotic world that does not always make sense.

There are hundreds of such moments, but the one I will tell you about today took place at Frank Jackson State Park in Alabama.

My camping site at the park. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Wow,” I wrote in my journal when I came across this place. While southern state parks usually impressed me when I came across them while traveling this country in a small RV with my canine companion, Maggie, this one outdid itself. I had a tree-shaded site with full hookups that backed up to the 1,000-acre W. F. Jackson Lake – and a cable TV outlet, a first for me at a public park.

The one night I had planned to stay turned into three, during which I took daily hikes across a wooden walkway to an island in the middle of the lake. One day I hiked it twice, first to catch the reflecting pink and soft orange glow over the lake as a sunrise welcomed the day, and a second to see bolder orange and red rays of the sunset that ended it.

A photograph I snapped at the perfect moment, after the sun had set and the glow had faded, captured a couple of fisherman silhouetted in a small boat floating on a lavender lake beneath a darkening sky.

This was the magical moment I relived this morning when I was looking through

my photos. Looking at the peaceful scene left me feeling as if I had captured a whole life time of living and reduced it to a single memory.

Bean Pat: The Path of the Spirit http://tinyurl.com/htrh8e5 Unweeded Edges

Frank Jackson State Park: 100 Jerry Adams Drive, Opp, Alabama (334) 493-6988. A 2,050-acre park with a 1,000-acre lake and three plus miles of trails. Entrance fee: $2-$4, Camping fee: $19 to $36 nightly, cabins $85 and up. Activities include boating ($4 launch fee), hiking, birdwatching, fishing. For more information go to: http://alapark.com/frank-jackson-state-park

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is soon to be released. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

 

Reading Stack

 

A Funky Bird: Just a fun painting to get your attention. — By Pat Bean

“The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think.” Harper Lee            

Three of a Kind

            I enjoy reading pretty much all genres of books except horror and true crime. Usually, I have about five books that are in my reading stack and a dozen or more eagerly waiting to be moved up to it. Most often the books in the reading stack include a mystery, a travel book, a fantasy novel, a book on writing and one other.

I just noticed, however, that my current reading stack includes three books on writing and journaling. I’m not sure exactly how this came about, but all three are by writers I admire.

The first is The Sound of Paper by artist and author Julia Cameron, who also wrote the Artist’s Way and many other books. She urges writers to do morning pages. This was something I was sometimes doing, but since picking up Julia’s book, I have been doing it faithfully. She urges three pages, but my goal is only two, although once I get started and let the brain take over, I usually end up with three or more. I find this morning journal writing helps focus my day. Her second rule is that we make an artist’s date with ourselves once a week, and the third is that we take daily walks. I already do the latter, and agree that it’s the best time in the world for thinking. As for the artist’s date with myself, I think that’s a great idea.

The second book in my stack is Long Quiet Highway by Natalie Goldberg, whose books Wild Mind and Writing Down the Bones I have also read. This is Natalie’s memoir in which she talks about finding her way as a writer. It echoes many of my own writing thoughts, and is a delight to read. I especially love Natalie’s vivid way with words

The third book in my stack is A Trail Through Leaves by Hannah Hinchman, whose A Life in Hand I have also read. While I found the first two books at my local library, I got Hannah’s secondhand on line after being unable to find one at the library. Like Julia, Hannah is also an artist and encourages the use of art work in journaling. Since it is full of illustrations, I’m glad I will be able to add it to my own library, or to pass it along to someone else who will enjoy it. My small apartment simply can’t keep all the books that come into my possession.

So, what are you reading?

Bean Pat: Lighthouse on a Cliff http://tinyurl.com/y8fj75pg