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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

This is just a fraction of the sandhills that were whirring through the air before landing, and joining hundreds that were already on the shore. -- Photo by Pat Bean

This is just a fraction of the sandhills that were whirring through the air before landing, and joining hundreds that were already on the shore. — Photo by Pat Bean

            “Sense the blessings of the earth in the perfect arc of a ripe tangerine, the taste of warm, fresh bread, the circling flight of birds, the lavender color of the sky shining in a late afternoon rain puddle, the million times we pass other beings in our cars and shops and out among the trees without crashing, conflict or harm.” – Jack Kornfield

Sandhill Cranes Galore

It was a peaceful walk through the wetlands area with a cool breeze blowing through my hair. I loved every second of my time spent at the National Recreational Area. -- Photo by Pat Bean

It was a peaceful walk through the wetlands area with a cool breeze blowing through my hair. I loved every second of my time spent at the National Recreational Area. — Photo by Pat Bean

The first sandhill cranes I ever saw were alongside the Sawtooth Scenic Highway somewhere north of Ketchum, Idaho in 1983. I was taking a drive with a forest ranger for a story I was writing for the Twin Falls Times-News. There were about a dozen of the large birds, but I wouldn’t have known what they were if the forest ranger hadn’t identified them.

The next time I saw sandhill cranes was more than 10 years later when I was doing a story on the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Northern Utah. By this time I had become an avid birder, and I could identify birds on my own – well at least with my Roger Tory Peterson birding field guide, There were only four sandhill cranesthis time, two pairs. The sighting, however, was special because the two pairs were doing their courting dance.

The line of sandhills stretched almost out of sight. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The line of sandhills stretched almost out of sight. — Photo by Pat Bean

I saw sandhill cranes pretty regularly after that, both in Utah and Texas. The one other time that stands out was when a small flock of sandhill cranes did a flyby over by head at the Morgan (Utah) Sewage Ponds.

But it wasn’t until this past week, when this non-wandering wanderer took a road trip to Whitewater Draw southeast of Tucson, that I saw thousands of sandhill cranes at one time. Between 20,000 to 30,000 sandhill cranes make this 600-acre wetlands their winter home.

I watched this awesome cinnamon teal groom itself for a good 10 minutes. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I watched this awesome cinnamon teal groom itself for a good 10 minutes. — Photo by Pat Bean

I visited the site in the early afternoon, when the cranes stretched out for probably a quarter mile on opposite shorelines. And they were still coming in when I left about 4 p.m., after taking a loop hike through the wetlands.

In addition to sandhill cranes, I saw coots, ruddy ducks, lesser scaup, common yellowthroats, robins, northern shovelers and cinnamon teal. What a great day!

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park http://tinyurl.com/p5mupnk And here’s a good place to visit to see winter wildflowers.

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Sunrise in a Different Place

“Know where to find the sunrise and sunset times and note how the sky looks at those times — at least once.” — Marilyn vos Savant

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Sunrise at my apartment in northeast Tucson. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Sunrise at my apartment in northeast Tucson. — Photo by Pat Bean

“What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?” E.M.Forster

Fuel for a Wanderlust Soul 

I spent the night at my daughter’s home last night. We live 13 miles apart, she on the southwest side of Tucson, and me on the northeast side of Tucson. When I took Pepper outside to do her business this morning here, the sky was still dark, but with a creeping streak of blood-orange color barely peeping through swaths of low-lying inky black clouds.

A more fiery Texas sunrise. (I didn't have my camera with me to photograph this morning's sunrise here in southwest Tucson.) -- Photo by Pat Bean

A more fiery Texas sunrise. (I didn’t have my camera with me to photograph this morning’s sunrise here in southwest Tucson.) — Photo by Pat Bean

Fifteen minutes later, when I rechecked how the sunrise was progressing, the entire eastern horizon was ablaze with streaks of fiery orange color and purple swaths of clouds set beneath a deep blue sky. It was a magnificent sight that took my breath away.

On my side of Tucson, sunrise comes a few minutes later, usually rising up above a landscape ridge in a golden glow. It offers a quieter awakening to the day. But sunsets as seen from my apartment’s balcony usually go out with a bang that rivals any fireworks display.

I find no better way to welcome the day than by watching the sunrise, nor a better to way to end it than by watching a sunset. I’ve watched many in my lifetime, and have found each one beautiful in its own way. No two are ever alike.

Watching these miracles of nature makes me feel good to be alive — and  thankful for my many blessings.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Medicine Lake http://tinyurl.com/l55ztkk Jasper National Park. Beautiful photos that rekindled my memories of when I visited this awesome landscape.

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            “… letting life just happen without control … It’s much less painful than fighting every step of the way … and so much more delightful than trying to arrange life like a table setting, which one can never do anyway. Really, it’s quite exciting to see what will happen along next …” – Dorothy Gilman

In searching for my place in life, I found myself most happy when I was in places where Mother Nature ruled, like this marsh in Maine. -- Photo by Pat Bean

In searching for my place in life, I found myself most happy when I was in places where Mother Nature ruled, like this marsh in Maine. — Photo by Pat Bean

The Wise Words of Dorothy Gilman

            I’m rereading my journal of 1980, a year I spent trying to find out who this woman was that inhabited my body.  It wasn’t a bad year. In fact, it was a really good year after a few bad ones.

However, many of my journal posts saw me whining about not knowing what I wanted – or knowing what I wanted but couldn’t have.  I was yearning at the time for both a soul mate and to discover the place where I fit into life.

... and beneath a tree in which a bird perched and sang. -- Photo by Pat Bean

… and beneath a tree in which a bird perched and sang. — Photo by Pat Bean

I980 was also the year in which I discovered Dorothy Gilman and her Mrs. Polifax mystery series. After discovering The Unexpected Mrs Polifax, published in 1966, I quickly searched out and read The Amazing Mrs.Polifax (1970), The Elusive Mrs. Polifax (1971). A Palm for Mrs. Polifax (1973), and Mrs. Polifax on Safari (1976).

The fictional Mrs. Polifax, a widow in her 60s, was, like me, discovering herself and, also like me, having adventures while doing so. I bonded with Mrs. Polifax as if she were my lifelong friend.

On June 4, 1980, I wrote: Spent the night with Mrs. Polifax, Just the thoughts I needed. Marvelous you are Dorothy Gilman.

I discovered many Polifax/Gilman quotes scattered throughout my 1980 journal. But none has stuck with me more thoroughly than the quote about our not being able to arrange life like a table setting. I could even quote it verbatim because of how many times I thought about it when things didn’t go as planned in my own life.

This wonderful author, Dorothy Gilman, died at the age of 88 in 2012, after writing another nine Mrs. Polifax books between 1983 and 2000. I read every one almost as soon as they came out.

Mrs. Polifax changed over the years, and so did I. I now know my place and “Marvelous” it is.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Rolbos http://tinyurl.com/my4swzd The Extinct Instinct of Trust, a blog that leaves you with much to think about. At least it did me.

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It was love at first sight when Pepper and I met at a Dallas area rescue shelter. -- Photo by Pat Bean

It was love at first sight when Pepper and I met at a Dallas area rescue shelter. — Photo by Pat Bean

Love is a Multiple Splendid Thing

I married the wrong man because I felt no one else would ever love me – and oh how I had ached to be loved.

Keri and Kaiden, granddaughter and grandson, and just two of the many loves in my life. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Keri and Kaiden, granddaughter and grandson, and just two of the many loves in my life. — Photo by Pat Bean

Thankfully I discovered that love isn’t confined to couple relationships. When, at 38, I was finally willing to spend the rest of my life alone and without the love of one man, I discovered its magic was all around me. My children, my friends, the love I had for Mother Nature and for learning, the virtual love of caring people all around the world, and even love for myself.

While not as heady as that of a man for a woman, I learned that these people and things were still love – and less fickle and quite wonderful. While I never found my perfect soul mate, and believe me I searched, I did come to realize I had plenty of love in my life. And this is why I celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Bean Pat: Check out this web site if you’re a female writer, and want to be a better one. http://tinyurl.com/7bez4o2  Story Circle Network is my personal writer’s support group.

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            “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

If you traveled Route 66, before it was replaced by Interstate 40, you might have seen these rock faces along side the road. The rocks are in Arizona's Painted Desert, which old Route 66 passed through. Interstate 40 bypasses the scenic landscape.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

If you traveled Route 66, before it was replaced by Interstate 40, you might have seen these rock faces alongside the road. The rocks are in Arizona’s Painted Desert, which old Route 66 passed through. Interstate 40 bypasses the scenic landscape. — Photo by Pat Bean

How Do You Travel

I was 13 when I went on my first road trip, an adventure on Route 66 when it was in its prime. My uncle drove his new 1952 Oldsmobile 100 mph across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona into California, my aunt by his side and me in the back seat with my 18-month-old cousin Barbara. I got invited on the trip, my first time out of Texas, to babysit.

I had lunch in a diner on Route 66, just across from this sign, which stands along of the bits and pieces of the old Mother Road that still exists. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I had lunch in a diner on Route 66, just across from this sign, which stands along of the bits and pieces of the old Mother Road that still exists. — Photo by Pat Bean

It was a long, two-day drive there, and two days back, but I was never bored. Nor did I do anything to entertain myself but to stare out the window. Watching the world go by out the window is still what I do when I’m in a car, either as driver or passenger. The passing sights, be they strange, new and scenic or familiar, decaying and nondescript, continually fascinate me. I’m always expecting to see something wonderful.

That wasn’t the case with my children, who read comic books or slept on long drives; or my grandchildren, who watch videos or play games on their phones constantly when they are in the car.

So now I ask myself, is the world different, or kids different. Or does the wanderlust in my soul make me different? How do you travel?

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Best Super Bowl blog of them all http://tinyurl.com/on6kcmb

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“Then I beheld the river … journeying out of the grey past into the green future.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Then I beheld the river … journeying out of the grey past into the green future.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson — Photo by Pat Bean

“Come, let us not be an appendage to Alexander, Charles V., or any of history’s heroes. Dead men all! For me, the earth is new today, and the sun is raining light.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Thoughts from the Past

            I have 50 years of journals stashed away in bins, most of which, once finished, have never been opened again. The early years of my journaling were a haphazard kind of thing, cheap steno pads, sometimes with only a few pages filled and more dates missing than captured.

Sometime in the 1980s, I switched to fancy journals, and filled them more faithfully. By the 1990s, journaling had become almost a daily routine. Recently I decided I should try reading my past thoughts, and so I randomly chose a journal in which to begin.

Me and Peaches on one of many hikes. She loved hiking as much as she loved tennis balls. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

Me and Peaches on one of many hikes. She loved hiking as much as she loved tennis balls. — Photo by Kim Perrin

The journal I picked chronicled the end of 1998 and the beginning of 1999. It was a time when my canine companion was a golden cocker spaniel named Peaches, who was addicted to tennis balls.

Dec. 19, 1998. It’s snowing outside, steady, tiny flakes that stuck to Peaches fur.… I feel as if I would like to sit here all day, curled up in the comfy, warm quilt Cindi (my daughter-in-law) gave me, and simply watch the snow fall. No such luck. Instead, I’ll read a few pages of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Journal, throw a few tennis balls for Peaches, then go to work.”

In various forms, the above was pretty much the gist of what I wrote again and again for the next few days, always mentioning the tennis ball routine with Peaches, and the snowy weather in Northern Utah.

I also recorded numerous RWE quotes into my journal from his journal. Here are a few:

If Milton, if Burns, if Bryant, is in the world, we have more tolerance, and more love for the changing sky, the mist, the rain, the bleak, overcast day, the indescribable sunrise and the immortal stars. If we believed no poet survived on the planet, nature would be tedious.”

            “There is creative reading as well as creative writing.”

            “My life is a May game. I will live as I like. I defy your strait-laced, weary, social ways and modes. Blue is the sky, green the fields and groves, fresh the springs, glad the rivers, hospitable the splendor of sun and star. I will play my game out.”

            “Some books leave us free and some books make us free.”

            “The gates of thought – how slow and late they discover themselves. Yet when they appear, we see that they were always there, always open.”

I was amazed, reading Emerson, how alike were so many of my own thoughts, especially the one that would find its way onto my resolution list for 1999: “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.”

And through all this journaling, Peaches was there with me, sometimes sharing my chair, but mostly standing before me with a tennis ball in her mouth that she wanted me to throw for her to fetch. I am so blessed to have had her in my life, and for Ralph Waldo Emerson, too.

Bean Pat: Express yourself http://tinyurl.com/q93e2pn I like this blog because it encourages me to express myself more with my words. I hope it encourages you to be more expressive in your own way, too.

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     “Sometimes you have got to look at things really positively – without putting your head in the sand, you have got to manage the negatives and keep putting a positive slant on it. Keep trying to find answers.” – Brian McDermot

I just got a glimpse of these white sand dunes as I passed by them just outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico. -- Wikimedia photo

I just got a glimpse of these white sand dunes as I passed by them just outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico. — Wikimedia photo

White Sands: Beauty and Missiles  

            When you think of White Sands in New Mexico, what’s the first thought that pops up in your brain? Monument or Missiles?

White Sands National Monument, whose dunes of glistening gypsum sands I passed on the final leg of my trip home after three weeks in Texas, is a place of both. I didn’t stop this day, but have taken the time to explore the 275 square miles of glistening white sand on past road trips.

But I did stop long enough in Texas Canyon, 50 miles east of Tucson, to snap a few pictures of the area's rocky landscape. == Photo by Pat Bean

But I did stop long enough in Texas Canyon, 50 miles east of Tucson, to snap a few pictures of the area’s rocky landscape. == Photo by Pat Bean

The National Park Service claims that this is the world’s largest gypsum dune field, and that its rising  from the heart of the desert in the Tularosa Basin is like no place else on earth. The Park Service also notes that occasionally the monument is closed to the public because of testing events at the nearby White Sands Missile Range, which Wikipedia claims is the largest military installation in the United States.

The seemingly oxymoron of beauty and missiles crossed my mind, sending me back in time to when my youngest daughter served on a destroyer tender during the Gulf War. Her ship was the USS Acadia, named after Acadia National Park in Maine.

Whose bright idea was it to name military ships after National Parks, I wondered at the time?

Such thoughts occupied my mine again during the next hundred miles or so driven beneath low-hanging clouds. I hit the rain at Texas Canyon in Arizona, with its own unique landscape of giant granite boulders. Although eager to get home, which was just 50 miles away, Pepper and I took a brief, damp break at the canyon rest stop.

By the time we did reach home, the drizzling rain that accompanied our last leg of the journey had turned into a downpour. I took it as a sign that Mother Nature was welcoming us back to Tucson.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Blood-Red Pencil: Breaking up is good to do http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/ I like this writing advice, probably because I still have a journalistic habit of short paragraphs. Some editors like it, and some don’t. It just goes to show that writing is never like math. Two and two are never four when it comes to words. What one editor thinks is wrong, another editor loves.  So sometimes you have to choose between pleasing yourself, and pleasing the editor who wants to publish your writing. At various times in my life I’ve done both.

“You can’t sit around thinking. You have to sit around writing.” – David Long

 

 

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