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.           “Time passes too fast. Like a hummingbird flying by, it’s just a blur to my eyes.” – Amanda Leigh

A male Anna's hummingbird. But the one I saw this morning was a less colorful female. Wikimedia photo, Brocken Inaglory

A male Anna’s hummingbird. But the one I saw this morning was a less colorful female. Wikimedia photo, Brocken Inaglory

Life is Good

Female Anna's hummingbird. -- Wikimedia photo

Female Anna’s hummingbird. — Wikimedia photo

Last night, at around 9 o’clock, I sat on my bedroom’s third-floor balcony and watched lightning flash across the sky like fireworks. Sometimes a deep rumbling followed, but mostly it was a silent event, until I moved to the living room balcony where the rumbling was more consistent. The air smelled musty with the rain that never fell, and I was awed by the deep magenta hue of the sky, wondering how that was possible.

The show was long, and so I fixed myself a Jack and Coke and settled into a patio chair to watch in leisure, afterwards falling into a relaxed sleep that held me until a sliver of light seeped through my bedroom shutters.

Broad-billed Hummingbird at the San Diego Zoo. -- Wikimedia photo

Broad-billed Hummingbird at the San Diego Zoo. — Wikimedia photo

The morning was muggy, but still cool enough here in Tucson for me to sit again on my balcony and sky watch, this time with my morning ritual of cream-laced coffee and my journal. As I watched, through my usually handy binoculars, a broad-billed hummingbird landed on a nearby tree and then zoomed straight to my nectar feeder that sat above my head. Seeing me, it zoomed away, but soon returned, and after deciding I was harmless, fed.

Then there were two hummingbirds flitting about in competition for the feeder. The second one was a black-chinned hummingbird, the species I see most often. After they had left, a third hummingbird appeared and drank. It was an Anna’s, although because it was a female, it took me a while to identify. The males, with their spectacular pinkish-purplish heads are an identification no-brainer.

Black-chinned hummingbird -- Wikimedia photo

Black-chinned hummingbird — Wikimedia photo

Seeing these three hummingbird species took me back to the morning I awoke to find three hummingbirds flitting in my ten. It happened in 1991, during a rafting trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon – before I became addicted to bird watching. I had no idea what species of hummingbirds they were at that time. I’m not sure I even knew then that hummingbirds came in different races.

While seeing those three hummingbirds flitting above my head in the tent 25 years ago thrilled me, seeing the trio this morning, and being able to identify each of them, was just as thrilling.

Life is good. And I am blessed.

Sax Zim Bog

             “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” Jawaharial Nehru

Great gray owl in flight. -- Wikimedia photo, Arne List.

Great gray owl in flight. — Wikimedia photo, Arne List.

Feeding my Wanderlust

            I’ve had wanderlust in my soul since reading “I Married Adventure” by Osa Johnson when I was 10 years old. Going on an African Safari in 2007, and finally seeing the wildlife she so vividly describes in her book, was the fulfillment of a life-long dream, as was traveling the United States from border-to-border and coast-to-coast for nine years in a small RV.

Great gray owl, Ontario, Canada. -- Wikimedia photo

North America’s largest owl, the great gray owl in Ontario, Canada. — Wikimedia photo

While my traveling days are not over, they are currently put on hold because of age and lack of deep pockets. I compensate by reading travel blogs and books. I also read a lot about birds, as birding is a late-blooming passion that addicted me at exactly the right time in my life.

Both birding and my wanderlust came together when I picked up Neil Hayward’s book Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year. The passage I was reading this morning was Neil’s account of chasing a Connecticut warbler in Sax Zim Bog. The name stopped me cold, tickling and delighting my wanderlust the same as hearing the names of places like Timbuctoo, Shangri-La and Zanzibar.

So of course I had to find my atlas, and then explore the Internet to learn more about the bog. The exotic sounding place is about 300 square miles of not just bog, but also aspen uplands, rivers, lakes, meadows, farms and a couple of towns in Northern Minnesota. Neil, doused liberally with mosquito repellant, visited a quite boggy patch of Sax Zim to successfully find his target bird, allowing me to follow him along in my armchair without getting bitten.

My bonus for taking the journey with Neil, followed by my online research, was to discover a You Tube video of a great gray owl sighting in Sax Zim Bog. It was so beautiful I almost cried. Sadly this bird is not on my life list of over 700 birds. But who knows what the future may hold?

Bean Pat: Great gray owl sighting at Sax Zim Bog http://tinyurl.com/gopkqt7 I hope this video thrills you as much as it did me.

Photo Challenge

A small patch of bank beside the Gunnison River in Colorado. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A small patch of bank beside the Gunnison River in Colorado. — Photo by Pat Bean

Details

Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another. Ernest Hemingway

Kinship and Surprises

Agatha Christie on her world tour in 1922.

Agatha Christie on her world tour in 1922.

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” — Sophia Loren

 

The Wonderful World of Books

I’m currently reading Diana Athill’s “Somewhere towards the End,” which was written when she was in her late 80s. She’s now 98 and still going. While I’m only in my 70s, I find that Diana’s reflections on life expressed in her book often mirror my own.

Agatha Christie with her surf board in Hawaii.

Agatha Christie with her surf board in Hawaii.

For example, both of us are big readers, and both started our reading adventures focused heavily on fiction. But we both find ourselves reading more and more non-fiction books with each passing year.

Writes Diana: “I am puzzled by something which I believe I share with a good many other oldies. I have gone off novels.” She then goes on to ponder, with no definitive answer, why this is?

Of course I had to ponder the same question. I think it’s because I no longer need to escape from life but am more fully willing to embrace it. But then it’s also because I love surprises, and real life seems to contain just as many, if not more, of them than the make-believe worlds.

For example, I’m a big fan of Agatha Christie’s, whose mysteries often hold many surprises. But the book about her that I’m now reading – The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery – has also held a few surprises.

The book, which mostly consists of letters to her mother, written while she was on a world tour with her husband in 1922, has also been full of surprises, completely changing my preconceived idea of who Christie was. I think I saw her as an extension of Jane Marple.

But Jane Marple never went surfing, and Agatha Christie loved to surf. I’m not sure why I thought this was so absurd, but the book contained illustrations to prove it.

I don’t know about anyone else, but learning to read is one of the greatest gifts life has bestowed on me. So what’s everyone else reading these days?

Bean Pat: The Iris and the Lily http://tinyurl.com/jy6sqkf This blogger is just beginning her retirement years and she’s off to a great start.

 

Looking Back

The Standard-Examine's new building, where I spent the final years as a journalist, reflects the surrounding mountains that I so loved. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The Standard-Examiner’s new building, where I spent my final years as a journalist, reflects the surrounding mountains that I so loved. — Photo by Pat Bean

       “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey

But Living Forward

Back on July 14, 1979 – a time of upheaval in my life – I wrote down a list of things I wanted to accomplish. On that list were the expected things such as be a better parent, live healthier, remarriage, financial security and advance in my career. Perhaps less expected desires were write a book, live in the mountains, take up an exciting hobby and meet interesting people.

A view of Mount Ogden from Ogden's 25th Street. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A view of Mount Ogden from Ogden’s 25th Street. — Photo by Pat Bean

I came across that list this morning, and realized I had achieved many of those goals. I have written a book, and while it’s not published yet, I have had a very successful writing life. And as a journalist for 37 years, meeting interesting people happened almost daily

While I carry around a few more pounds than I should, I’m quite healthy and active for my age, I did briefly remarry but after that didn’t work out, I realized how much I enjoyed being single.

In 1983, I took up white-water rafting, which gave me many adventures for almost 20 years. Financially, I’ve never had much money but it’s always been enough to feed and house me, let me buy books and still have a little leftover for travel.

At the time I wrote the list, I was working for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It was a prestigious job, but there wasn’t a mountain in sight. A few months later, I moved to Utah, where the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains became my backyard. It meant that I went from being a tiny fish in a large lake to being a slightly bigger fish in a smaller pond – but I never regretted the decision.

“Dare to be different” was the final item on that 37-year-old-list. When I wrote that wish down, I hadn’t yet learned that this desire was a no-brainer. Everybody is different in their own way. And that is one of the most beautiful things about this world.

Bean Pat: Ralie Travels http://tinyurl.com/zrgtbmo Great armchair travel through Arizona’s Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. Having visited here, this brought back great memories.

It’s a Raven!

“I believed then – in a deep, easy way that is impossible for me as an adult – that there was more to this world than meets the eye. Trees had spirits; the wind spoke. If you followed a toad or raven deep into the heart of the forest, they were sure to lead you to something magical.” – Jennifer McMahon

            “I’m so sorry Jennifer. I’ve long been an adult – and I still believe.” – Pat Bean

Life outside my window. -- Watercolor by Pat Bean

Life outside my window. — Watercolor by Pat Bean

Or is it a Crow?

            Ravens didn’t live in Dallas, where I grew up. It was only after I moved West that I began seeing them. They looked just like crows to me. But being the curious person that I am, I soon wanted to know how to tell a raven from a crow.

Note the wedge-shaped tail on this raven Also, except for once during breeding season, I've never seen more than one or two ravens together. Crows, on the other hand, most often flock together. -- Wikimedia photo

Note the wedge-shaped tail on this raven Also, except for once during breeding season, I’ve never seen more than one or two ravens together. Crows, on the other hand, most often flock together. — Wikimedia photo

While ravens are larger, unless you see them side by side you can’t really identify them by that clue. But it’s easy to tell them apart if you see them flying. The raven’s tail is wedge-shaped, while the end of the crow’s tail is straight.

I see a pair of ravens almost daily here in Tucson, They land in the trees outside my windows and hop about on the roof opposite my back balcony – and they inspired my latest watercolor.

Bean Pat: Daily Echo http://tinyurl.com/hjeleff This blog so reminds me of the way I traveled and dawdled when I lived in my RV and was exploring North America. U think my wanderlust is getting to me. I need to take a road trip soon.

Fireworks

            “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln

My life has had moments like this -- and they're still vivid in my memories.

My life has had moments like this — and they’re still vivid in my memories.

We All Need Some Sparkle in our Lives

From my daughter’s backyard patio on the western outskirts of Tucson, I had a front row seat to a fireworks show Monday night. Rockets burst in the air, sending showers of sparkling stars and streaks high and wide – over and over. It was the longest firework show I’ve ever seen.

Finally, however, I tired of the extravaganza, realizing that one can only endure so much splendidness.

White-water rafting was my fireworks for almost 20 years.

White-water rafting was my fireworks for almost 20 years.

Afterwards, as I was feeding carrots to my daughter’s horse, Hondo, who hadn’t liked the explosive lighting show at all, I thought about the fireworks in my life – from late-blooming delicious relationships to facing down  giant rapids from the front seat of a paddle boat on the Colorado River.

My life started out complicated and difficult, then exploded with adventures, and is now moving in slow motion.  I’ve lived a full circle. And what I find strange is that the ending is every bit as fulfilling as the middle.

But it was the beginning, when I was a child of an alcoholic, the outcast in school, too young married to the wrong man, and an unprepared mother, that formed me into the person I am today. My children and grandchildren are the bonuses from that time, as is this person I have become.

I can’t regret any of my life.

While it’s the fireworks’ years that dominate my memories, it’s these years toward the end that are giving me my greatest contentment. Of course, I can’t help but hope there are a few fireworks’ memories still out there for me to create.

But no way do I want to go back to the beginning stage. Once was enough for that period in my life.

Bean Pat: Hairy Puccoon http://tinyurl.com/gtoxu2e Portraits of Wildflowers, one of my favorite bloggers.

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