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I sketched this scene while visiting Zion National Park in Utah, one of my favorite places.

      “It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.” — Vita Sackville-West

Pen or Computer? Or Both?

My normal early morning routine is to get up, brush my teeth, put moisturizer on my face, dress (or simply put a coat over my pajamas) and walk my canine companion Pepper. Back in my apartment, I sit down with a cup of cream-laced coffee, write at least two pages in my journal, and read the NY Times digital version.

An old Remington typewriter, similar to the one I used to write my first mystery novel draft, which languishes somewhere in my writing files.

The journal writing ritual, I finally learned, clears my head and makes my days more productive. I begin by writing about my walk, the weather, anything significant from the day before, and perhaps my dreams, if they’re still rolling around in my head. This usually takes up a page in my journal. If writer’s block sets in, I start perusing the newspaper, letting the day’s headlines bring into focus my own thoughts on the issues,

This morning, as I was writing, I noted that I let each of the next words roll around in my brain before I scrawled my pen’s bold black ink across the page. When using the computer my thoughts often seem to be more connected to my fingers than my brain. I’m not conscious about what I’m going to write, I just do it.

This effortless means of writing means my fingers tap out thoughts that I didn’t know were in my head.  I’m usually pleased with the outcome. It’s as if my fingers subconsciously know what my brain hasn’t yet acknowledged.

Why do the writing tools affect me so differently, I asked myself this morning, posing the question in ink in my journal? The answer that popped into my brain was that I took the time to think before using my pen because I wanted to keep my journal neat and didn’t want to have to black out a word, or two.

On a computer, if my fingers get ahead of my brain, I can simply delete the wrong words with no fuss or bother – unlike in my early years of writing using a typewriter.

Occasionally, I miss that old Remington. There was a calming satisfaction that came with the act of yanking a sheet of paper out of the typewriter, crumbling it up into a ball, and tossing it into a wastebasket.

It was an action that refreshed the brain, usually for the better.

Bean Pat: Six Word Saturday https://lingeringvisions.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/  The shoe was actually a boot. My favorite piece was the top hat, until the Scottie dog was added to the monopoly pieces in the 1950s. And today I have a Scottie dog, well at least half of her. The other half might be a schnauzer.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book she calls Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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Candy-striped rocks in Badlands National Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Landscape is a piece that is emotional and psychological.” – Jim Hodges

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Remnants of an ancient jungle can be seen in the Badlands. — Photo by Pat Bean

Alone on a Windy Day

In the neighborhood of a million or more people from all over the world annually visit Badlands National Park, a rugged, colorful, wind scoured, sun-bleached, South Dakota landscape that took my mind back through endless eras of time. It felt magical, and the windy autumn day I drove, and hiked a bit, through it seemed as if I had the park’s entire quarter-million acres of rock and prairie to myself.

         I had spent the night at a small campground in Interior, a city of less than 100 residents that sits just outside the park. It is home to the Horseshoe Bar, whose sign out front said: “All Bikes Must Stop,” and a gas station, where I had to go inside to pay. The friendly clerk there old me to drop by for a hot meal later. I bypassed the bar, and did just that.

South Dakota is known as one of this country’s windiest states, and it was living up to the reputation when I awoke the next morning after a night of rocking and rolling in my over-the-cab bed. The smart thing to do was to stay put for the day. But the Badlands, which I had never visited before, was calling me.

My canine companion Maggie and I answered the invitation. We did get bounced around a bit in our undersized, 21-foot class C home on wheels. But, oh was it worth it! As more and more people seek relief from the world’s chaos in nature’s wild places, it is becoming rare to have time alone with Mother Nature. Well, unless you are a backpacker able to truly go into the backcountry, and age has put me at a point where that kind of adventure is behind me.

Besides the kaleidoscope of candy-striped boulders, remnants of an ancient jungle, and fossils of animals, like the saber-toothed tiger that no longer exist, I saw bison, prairie dogs, antelope, rock wrens and prairie falcons.

But the day’s furious winds, which calmed down for a bit every now and then, evidently kept other visitors away. I saw fewer than a dozen cars on the Badlands Highway 240 Loop Road, and only three other people during my several short hikes.

It rained shortly after I arrived back at the Interior campground, and I spent another night rocking and rolling as my RV danced with the wind. Then it was off for another day of exploring the “good” Badlands.

Bean Pat: An invitation https://natureontheedge.com/2018/01/27/ The adventure begins Feb. 16. Sounds like fun and a good cause.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

The sky broke like an egg into full sunset and the water caught fire.” — Pamela Hansford Johnson

Sunset Bay State Park — Oregon State Parks photo

A Moment Not to be Forgotten 

It was a misty, early morning at Sunset Bay Park where I was staying while attending the Oregon Shorebird Festival (See previous post) held nearby.

Sunset Bay State Park near Coos Bay in Oregon. — Wikimedia photo

The Oregon coast campground oozed beauty and peacefulness as I stepped out of my small RV for the morning walk with my canine companion. We strolled down to the beach, where not another soul was yet around. The quiet swishing of the waves against the sand poured calmness into my soul and made me glad to be alive – even though I hadn’t yet had my coffee.

As I walked along the water’s edge, I saw a flock of western sandpipers in the shallows ahead, marching slowly along and constantly dipping their tiny beaks in and out of the water in search of breakfast tidbits. I watched them through my binoculars, staying far enough behind them that they wouldn’t startle and fly off. Maggie was too interested in sniffing at the water’s edge to even notice. But then something, I’m not sure what, did disturb them. In what seemed like less than a second, as a unity of one, they soared into the air, circled for a moment, then flew farther down the beach, their feathers flashing silver when catching the morning sun.

As I stood there, I recalled  a quote by Cesare Pavese that I had written in my journal: “We do not remember days, we remember moments.”  My heart told me that this was a moment I did not want to forget.

Bean Pat: A strange bird story  https://apetcher.wordpress.com/2018/02/08/ This qualifies as my learning something new for the day. The post both made me laugh, and made me sad, first for the caged bird and then for the unethical humans. I know for a fact that there are more ethical people in the world than the other way around. But boy do the rotten ones leave a bad taste in the soul.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

Birds: Marbled Murrelet

“Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often find uncertainty fascinating.” – Carl von Clausewitz.

Marbled murrelet — Wikimedia photo by Gus van Vliet

Drifting Among the Waves

During the first year of living in my home on wheels, I headed to the West Coast, letting

The simple whims of the moment dictate my journey’s path. I was in Northern Idaho, when I met a couple of birders who told me about Oregon’s Shorebird Festival they had attended a few years earlier.

Marbled murrelet chick. — Photo by Alaska Fish and Game

It sounded interesting, so when I learned the year’s upcoming festival, which has been held yearly now for over 30 years, was just a week away, I recalculated my driving plans so I would arrive in the Coos Bay area in time to attend. It was a great decision as I added 12 new birds to my life list.

One of the new birds that truly excited me was the marbled murrelet, a plump seabird about the size of a robin. I was especially pleased about the sighting because, serendipitously,  I had just learned about the murrelet’s breeding habits, a mystery that had stumped ornithologists for years. And then, in the early 1970s. a tree climbing maintenance worker in Big Basin State Park, finally discovered the answer for them. He found a murrelet nest high in an inland redwood tree – and I had been standing in a majestic redwood grove when I learned the story.

The female marbled murrelet lays a single egg on a mossy branch in old growth trees. The egg is incubated for a month, then fed by both parents until it is about 40 days old, when it flies off to sea and feeds itself.

Because of logging practices and loss of habitat, the marbled murrelet is on the endangered species list, which is another reason I was excited to see one.

I made the sighting during a rainy day. The bird was on the water, with waves playing peek-a-boo with us, but a strong scope and patience finally gave me good view.

Bean Pat: Texas Tweeties  https://bobzeller.wordpress.com/2018/02/06/shooting-from-a-blind-or-in-the-wild/

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

“I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore … I hear it in the deep heart’s core.”  – William Butler Yates.

A tree full of double-crested cormorants at Lake End Campground. — Photo by Pat Bean  

Water and Birds for Double the Pleasure

A walk among the moss-dripping trees. — Photo by Pat Bean

One of my favorite things to do when I traveled across this country in my RV was to spend the night parked where I could be lulled to sleep at night by the sounds of water gurgling, lapping and laughing. It was better than any sleeping pill, assuring me a good night’s sleep, and a morning eager to take a walk by the water.

It didn’t hurt either that lakes and ponds and oceans were also the stomping grounds of birds to feed my birdwatching passion.

Great Blue Heron at Lake End Campground, Louisiana. — Photo by Pat Bean

So, it was that I found myself spending a few nights on the western edge of Louisiana’s Lake Palourde at Lake End Campground, sharing it with an abundance of double-crested cormorants and great blue herons. An additional bonus was its scenic walking trail.

Palourde is an 11,250-acre lake near Morgan City, Louisiana. It was originally called Lac Palourde by early French settlers, which means Lake Clam. The name came because of the abundance of clams that once lined the shore.

I didn’t see any clams, but I did see lots of birds – and I slept well.

Bean Pat:  Living outside the lines https://tinyurl.com/y9ho6t7r Be sure and listen to the music. I really loved this blog

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

Long-billed Curlews

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” – Cesare Pavese     

The long-billed curlew — Wikimedia photo by Jerry Kirkhart

AKA the Candlestick Bird

It was a June Day in 1998 and photographer Kurt Duce and I were on the unpaved, closed to the public, south causeway to Antelope Island. We had permission to four-wheel it on the rough passage because I was doing a series of newspaper articles on Great Salt Lake.

Long-billed curlew_– Wikimedia photo by Frank Schulenburg.

Since the road was rarely driven, a pair of long-billed curlews had built their nest right beside the one-lane passage. We stopped and got out for a better look, and several young chicks began and skittering to and fro in front of us. It was a great opportunity for me to quietly observe with my notebook in hand, and for Kort to get some rare photographs of this large shorebird and young.

We weren’t out of the car for more than about 30 seconds, however, when the two parents began dive-bombing us. It took off Kort’s hat with one pass. In less than 30 seconds the two of us were both back in our vehicle. I dare say you would have ducked for cover, too, if you got a close-up look at this bird’s wicked bill.

But it was one of those remembered moments that claim a prominent place in the file cabinets of my brain.

According to Wikipedia, the long-billed curlew was once known as the candlestick bird, and Candlestick Park and Candlestick Point in San Francisco, where these birds once inhabited, were named after this bird, which, however, disappeared from this landscape in the early 1900s.

Thankfully, however, it found other habitat and is currently not in danger of becoming extinct, as did its cousin, the Eskimo curlew, which has not been seen in over 30 years.

Serendipitously, a short time after I was dive-bombed by the angry bird parents, I heard a talk by author and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams,  who remarked: “I can’t help but believe that as long as the world supports the life of the long-billed curlew, we can be supported, too.”

I certainly agree.

Bean Pat: Watch a YouTube video of a long-billed curlew at https://tinyurl.com/y9tzvygf

         Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

Travels with Maggie

“What is the feeling when you’re driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their flecks dispersing?  It’s the too huge world vaulting us, and its good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” – Jack Kerouac, author of “On the Road.”

Maggie in her favorite spot on the over the cab bed in my RV. She had an attitude, as you can see from this photo. This photo was taken near the end of our journeys when my canine companion was almost 15 years old. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

Five-Star Reading

In July I wrote a blog about putting the finishing touches on my book, Travels with Maggie, and mentioned how hard it was going to be to let “my baby” go out for the world to read. But I knew if I kept thinking that it was not perfect, it would never get published.

So, I finally let it go.

It’s now been up on Amazon for a couple of months, and even has garnered a few five-star reviews. But this morning I remembered that July post when I shared the back of the book blurb and list of contents and asked my blog followers if they would read this book.

I know some of those who responded have, but not all. So, I decided to use my blog to blatantly promote my book a second time.

Maggie didn’t like it when a passenger took her co-pilot seat, but when I stepped out of the RV she always got in the driver’s seat. The above photo was taken near the beginning of our journeys when Maggie was not yet seven years old. — Photo by Pat Bean.

Travels with Maggie is a book about one woman’s fulfillment of a dream that began when she was 10 years old. It chronicles a 7,000-mile RV journey, mostly on backroads, through 23 states and Canada. The odyssey begins in May of 2006 from a daughter’s home in Arkansas, and ends in time for Thanksgiving at another daughter’s home in Texas.

I think my writing voice brings a much-needed feminine voice to the world of such travel writer greats as John Steinbeck, William Least Heat Moon, Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson and Charles Kuralt. It’s a book about chasing birds across American, and a book about my relationship with Maggie, my on-the-road companion for eight years.

Never an early riser, like me, Maggie preferred to sleep in until about 10 a.m. – Photo by Pat Bean

And this is the table of contents: How it all Began … Letting Go of the World’s Worries … What Queen Wilhelmina Missed … Yes, Virginia, There is a Silver Lining … Two More Oklahoma Parks – And a Lifer …  Childhood Memories, A Kindred Soul and Marlin Perkins    Heart of the Ozarks …  Roy Rogers, A Tragic Past and an Ouch … A Scenic Riverway, a German Town, and a Margarita Night … Saint Louis: Chihuly, a Birdcage, an Arch and Beer … In the Footsteps of Mark Twain … Meandering Through Illinois Where Kickapoos Once Roamed… The Prophet – And Howling with Tristan … Hotter than Hell in Indiana …  Highway 12, Cade Lake, The Brick Dick and Henry Ford … Celebrating a Summer Halloween … Traveling Beside Lake Erie … Niagara Falls and New In-Laws …The Adirondacks … Ticonderoga, Norman Rockwell and Rainy Vermont … The Stone Man … Good-Bye White Mountains, Hello Maine …  A Week on Desert Island … Strong Women and Paul Bunyan … It’s a Log … Or a Moose …  Scarborough Marsh, Bad Vibes and Boston … Help! My RV’s Lost at the Airport … An Embarrassing Moment and a Hug from a Granddaughter … Hawk Mountain and the Big Apple … Sitting out a Storm in a Wal-Mart Parking Lot … Lost and Found in Philadelphia …  All Dressed up for Pony Watching … Crossing Chesapeake Bay and a Sick Dog … Dismal Swamp, Roanoke Rapids and Simple Things …  The Carolinas – Books, Tobacco and Art …  Georgia on my Mind …  Alabama: Home of the Bible Belt and a Boll Weevil Monument … Mississippi Bird Encounters and a Historic Trail … Know When to Hold ‘Em and Know When to Fold ‘Em… Memories of a Dear Friend …   Epilogue.

So, would you please buy and read this book? And if you’ve read it, would you please write a review.

Bean Pat: Bo’s Café Life:

https://boscafelife.wordpress.com/2018/01/23/bos-cafe-life-flashback-25/

A daily cartoon about writing.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now upon Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com