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A magical moment at W.F. Jackson Park in Alabama -- at crepuscular.

A magical moment at W.F. Jackson Park in Alabama — at crepuscular. — Photo by Pat Bean

   “Every spring I hear the thrush singing in the glowing woods. He is only passing through. His voice is deep, then he lifts it until it seems to fall from the sky. I am thrilled. I am grateful. Then, by the end of morning, he’s gone, nothing but silence out of the tree where he rested for a night. And this I find acceptable. Not enough is a poor life. But too much is, well, too much. Imagine Verdi or Mahler every day, all day. It would exhaust anyone.” – Mary Oliver

My Curiosity Never Killed a Cat  

            I’m reading Luke Dempsey’s “A Supremely Bad Idea,” which I had checked out from the local Tucson Audubon Library. It’s a book along the lines of Mark Obmascik’s “The Big Year,” which is about three’s men’s obsession to see the most bird species in 1998. Bad Idea is also about three birders chasing birds. .

A tri-colored heron, once known as a Louisiana heron, spotted on the Blue Water Highway between Surfside and Galveston, Texas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A tri-colored heron, once known as a Louisiana heron, spotted on the Blue Water Highway between Surfside and Galveston, Texas. — Photo by Pat Bean

Anyway, Dempsey mentions seeing a Louisiana heron, which sets my mind roiling. I’ve seen every species of herons this country has to offer, and I had never heard of a Louisiana heron. So off I chase to Bing it, which is the same as Googling it, only I use Bing as my internet explorer. In no time at all, my curiosity is slated. A Louisiana heron is what a tri-colored heron was once called.

The discovery left me pleased that I had learned something new. Then Dempsey used the word crepuscular, which sent back to my computer and my online dictionary. Crepuscular, I learned, means twilight, and can refer to animals that come out at twilight, and which are often wrongly referred to as nocturnal.

I don’t know about you, but I love it when writers send me to a dictionary.

Bean’s Pat: Dawn Downey’s Blog http://tinyurl.com/q3l3vvb A blog that will make you thankful for only having to walk to exercise. I also love this author’s book, “Stumbling Toward the Buddha,” which I recently read.

Looking down at the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.-- Photo by Pat Bean

Looking down at the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.– Photo by Pat Bean

“The river is another world, which means that one’s senses and reflexes must begin to live another life.” – Wendell Barry

Texas Flooding got me Thinking

I grew up near the Trinity River in Dallas, which has been overflowing its banks the past few days. It was the first river in my life. The current flooding made me remember when I was a kid, sitting in the backseat  our car looking out the window, as we drove over a huge viaduct with just a skinny stream surrounded by huge patches of dry land beneath us.

The Virgin River in Zion National Park. I remember when this river tore out the Zion Canyon Road after a heavy rain. The time is fondly remembered as the camping trip from hell. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The Virgin River in Zion National Park. I remember when this river tore out the Zion Canyon Road after a heavy rain. The time is fondly remembered as the camping trip from hell. — Photo by Pat Bean

I wondered, back then, why the bridge was so long and high. And then the rains came, and I understood the necessity of the bridge and the vacant land, which had suddenly become part of the river.

The Trinity River was the reason John Neely Bryan decided to establish the settlement, which would become Dallas. He thought the site would be a great place for a great port, but he was wrong. The Trinity River’s ebbs and flows were too fickle to allow reliable navigation. But if you knew where to go, one could find a cool, quiet place to swim on a hot summer day back in the 1940s and early ‘50s — when I was a kid.

The next river in my life was the Brazos. I met it when I lived on the Texas Gulf Coast for 15 years during the late 1950s, all of the’ 60s and the early ‘70s. I swam in it, fished in it, caught crabs in it, sat beside it and canoed it. It was also the river in which I saw my first water moccasin and first alligator.

The waters of these two Texas rivers were usually brown and muddy, which is why I was so surprised at the next two streams that became a part of my life, Utah’s Logan and Ogden rivers. Bubbling down from mountain springs fed by snow melt, these smaller rivers were cold and clear as a crystal glass. They gurgled and sang as they made their way downstream.

Nothing gave me more pleasure than finding a hiking trail that ran beside them, or the joy of tubing a stretch of these rivers through a narrow canyon

The Snake River below Jackson, Wyoming. Photo by Pat Bean

The Snake River below Jackson, Wyoming. Photo by Pat Bean

It wasn’t until 1983, however, when I became acquainted with the river that would turn me into a passionate white-water rafter. For the next 20 years, after that first introduction to a six-mile stretch of the Snake between Hagerman and Bliss, every summer would find me floating the Snake (an annual trip below Jackson, Wyoming), and other rivers as well.

I’ve rafted through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River twice, paddled the River of No Return (the Salmon), taken a wild ride down the South Fork of the Payette, and captained a raft down the Green River through Dinosaur National Park.

I feel as if these rivers are a part of who I am. They have made me stronger because I’ve challenged them, humbled because I’ve tasted their power and been lucky to escape alive, and thoughtful about their tenacity to keep rolling on, wearing down obstacles through eons of time in their effort to reach the sea and start the process all over again.

 

Bean Pat: The Outer Banks after a storm http://tinyurl.com/k37fyjd

 

 

Change Your Seat

The view from the west side of my patio table after a rain storm. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The view from the west side of my patio table after a rain storm. — Photo by Pat Bean

“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.”  — Ivy Baker Priest

It’s All About Perspective

I sit on the east side of my patio table to have my first cup of cream-laced coffee for the day. In this seat, I have a grand view of the Catalina Mountains as the sun comes up.

A winter view of the Catalinas from the east side of my patio table. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A winter view of the Catalinas from the east side of my patio table. — Photo by Pat Bean

But in the late afternoons, when  I and my friend Jean – whose dog Dusty is Pepper’s best friend – sit on my balcony to discuss the day’s events over a Jack and Coke, I’ve been plopping down on the west side of the table. From this vantage point, I have a view of red roof tiles, and the sky through the lacy pattern of tree leaves..

Both views are pleasant.

A few days ago, I took the west side of the table in the late afternoon because I had left my journal and some papers on that side. What I quickly noticed was that the shadowy patches on the mountain’s cliffs as the sun rose in the morning were now the patches that were highlighted as the sun began its dip below the horizon.

From her side of the table, in addition to the red-tiled roof and sky through the trees, Jean had a great view of Pepper and Dusty playing on my bed, a delightful sight that only I usually got to see while we’re laughing and chatting.

“I’m sitting on this side of the table from now on,” Jean said. Since it’s my table, and I can normally sit on either side of the table I want, that was fine with me.

What a different place the world can be when we look at it from a different perspective, I thought, sort of like walking in another person’s shoes.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Brevity http://tinyurl.com/lclbale As a writer, this is one of my favorite blogs. And I take today’s advice seriously to heart.

The Unexpected

            “Things never go the way you expect them to. That’s both the joy and frustration in life. I’m finding as I get older that I don’t mind, though. It’s the surprises that tickle me the most, the things you don’t see coming.” – Michael Stuhlbarg

While I didn't get a photograph of the two javelina visitors this morning. I did get photos of some when I visited Bentsen State Park in Texas a few years ago.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

While I didn’t get a photograph of the two javelina visitors this morning. I did get photos of some when I visited Bentsen State Park in Texas a few years ago. — Photo by Pat Bean

I Love Surprises

This morning, shortly before 6 a.m., as Pepper and I were taking a turn around our fenced apartment’s courtyard with its gurgling, three tiered fountain, we came upon a surprising sight. Casually grazing on the manicured lawn were two javelinas. Pepper gave a low growl, and I quickly switched direction.

While I wasn't really surprised to see the javelinas, coming around the corner and seeing this cormorant and its reflection in a pond was a bit surprising. -- Photo by Pat Bean

While I wasn’t really surprised to see the javelinas, coming around the corner and seeing this cormorant and its reflection in a pond was a bit surprising. — Photo by Pat Bean

The javelinas were still calmly grazing when Pepper’s business was finished, and I returned her to our third-floor apartment, where I grabbed my camera and rushed back down the stairs to take a photo of the wild pair. The javelinas, however, had vanished, back into the slender patches of undisturbed desert that dot the surrounding landscape.

I was sorry not to have been able to photograph the two bits of wildness that had come to visit, but I was still elated at their appearance so close to my usually civilized habitat. I’ve come to treasure surprises in life, be it in the art I view, in the books I read, on the journeys I take, in the revelations of friends, or even in the taste of varied ingredients I mix together in my kitchen in hopes of overcoming sameness and blandness.

Surprises, in whatever form they take, keep life from being boring.

Of course, I prefer the surprise of waking up and seeing javelinas better than waking up to discover my car has a flat tire.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Pete Scully  http://tinyurl.com/pov26k2 I love following Pete’s blog. He makes sketching look easy and inspires me to do more of it. Perhaps he’ll inspire you, too.

A Butterfly

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” — Nathaniel Hawthorne

Birdhouse and butterfly atop my bookcase.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Birdhouse and butterfly atop my bookcase. — Photo by Pat Bean

And the Perfect Morning

            As always, the first thing on awakening, I took Pepper for a walk. When we returned from this early morning rejuvenation, I gave her a treat and fixed myself a cup of coffee. This morning, as I waited for the coffee to brew, I looked around for a place to put the butterfly my friend Kim had given me – and suddenly saw it.

Morning cream-laced coffee, with my journal and a book. The perfect start to any day. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Morning cream-laced coffee, with my journal and a book. The perfect start to any day. — Photo by Pat Bean

I had recently moved a planter birdhouse that had been hanging on my back balcony to the top of my bookcase. It needed a bit of brightening. By the time my coffee had brewed, the butterfly had a new home, a place where I could daily observe its beauty. I’m fascinated by butterflies, both because of their beauty and because  they represent rebirth.

I then took my coffee out to my bedroom balcony, where I sat down at the patio table set, a recent gift from my youngest daughter. There, with my cream-laced coffee, my journal and a book checked out from the Tucson Audubon’s library, I enjoyed my morning – and reflected on my life – and all the things I hadn’t been doing lately.

Perhaps, I thought, I had just gotten too comfortable. But then, since I had promised to stop beating up on myself for things I hadn’t done, I took a few moments to reflect on the things I had done. One of these, I realized, was making my small apartment a home filled with the love of simple things, like a silk butterfly.

I’m not sure it was the pep talk I needed to attack the chores I had set for myself, the things that give me a sense of accomplishment at the end of a day, but at least I’ve written this blog – and it’s not yet 8 a.m.

Time, I think, for a second cup of coffee and more reflection.

Bean Pat: Dandelions http://tinyurl.com/peocats I saw some sprinkled across the grass this morning, and I, too, wondered why some people abhor them on their lawns.

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

Vincent van Gogh liked the color yellow, too.

Vincent van Gogh liked the color yellow, too.

The Hue of Sunshine

I’ve watched this past month as cacti and palo verde trees have burst forth with yellow blossoms. I’ve come to think of this buttery splash on the landscape as a likely subject for a Van Gogh painting – well, if he had lived in Tucson.

Palo verdes, the state tree of Arizona, heavily dot the Catalina Foothills where I live. I love the color.

Palo verdes, the state tree of Arizona, heavily dot the Catalina Foothills where I live. I love the color.

Sometimes, as I observe the miracle of the desert coming to life, I find myself singing John Denver’s “Sunshine on my Shoulder Makes Me Happy” – Because it does.

It’s just one more reason I start each day thankful for my life – and extra thankful that I live in a country where a woman is free to enjoy the bounties of Mother Nature anytime she wants. I wish it were true for all men and women alive in the world today. And I grieve because it isn’t, especially for the women who make up the majority of the oppressed in many countries.  Don’t you?*

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Portrait of Wildflowers http://tinyurl.com/ojb29cy I’m not the only one who enjoys the color of sunshine.

*This topic crept its way into my blog, not at all where I intended the end of my writing to go. It is, however, a topic that is much on my mind. I often feel guilty because of my simple luck of not being born in a country where an outspoken woman has to fear for her life. I seriously doubt I would have survived to become the old broad I am today if not for my birth-place luck.   

           

Reflections

 

The trail led beside and beneath the waterfalls. I do so love Zion. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The trail led beside and beneath the waterfalls. I do so love Zion. — Photo by Pat Bean

         “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! – Dr. Seuss

Runoff from the Emerald Pools' waterfalls created this small puddle of water, which reflected the nearby landscape. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Runoff from the Emerald Pools’ waterfalls created this small puddle of water, which reflected the nearby landscape. — Photo by Pat Bean

On a Birthday Hike   

It felt fantastic to be back in Zion National Park to celebrate my recent birthday with some of the same friends who have celebrated it with me in this awesome place for three decades.

A good-sized lizard near the start of he hike. I barely captured him with my camera before he slithered away.

A good-sized lizard near the start of he hike. I barely captured him with my camera before he slithered away.

While my body wasn’t up to the grueling 5.5-mile roundtrip hike to the top of Angel’s Landing, which I have done about 30 times in my life, it was up to a moderate three-mile hike on the Kayenta and Emerald Pools’ trails. The two trails join at the waterfalls junction.

I originally started the tradition of spending my birthday in Zion because I didn’t live near any family members, and I figured it was much better to do something I enjoyed than stay home and feel lonely.

 

My friend Kim near the start of the hike. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My friend Kim near the start of the hike. — Photo by Pat Bean

I had hiked it alone or with varying friends for several years before Kim and her son began joining me almost every year. This year she called me about three days before my birthday and told me to get my butt to Zion. The message wasn’t exactly expressed in those exact words but I got the meaning.

I drove up to Zion, a nine-hour journey, in Cayenne on Friday, hiked and partied on Saturday, and drove back on Sunday. It turned out to be one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: A Writer’s Path http://tinyurl.com/ps647fp  This blogger chose his favorite 10 opening lines of books. I agreed with a couple, but the blog made me want to go and list my favorite opening lines. Perhaps it will do the same for you.

 

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