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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

My grandson, JJ, found Ramsey Canyon a treat from the normal Sonoran Desert Landscape. So did I. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My grandson, JJ, found Ramsey Canyon a treat from the normal Sonoran Desert Landscape. So did I. — Photo by Pat Bean

Painted Redstart -- Wikimedia Photo

Painted Redstart — Wikimedia Photo

“Solitary converse with nature; for thence are ejaculated sweet and dreadful words never uttered in libraries. Ah! the spring days, the summer dawns, and October woods!” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Desert Oasis – And a Red-Faced Warbler         

If numbers counted, the painted redstart was the bird of the day when my 16-year-old grandson, JJ, and I hiked Ramsey Canyon this past weekend. But in my book, the bird of the day was the one in which I got a brief glimpse, just long enough to see its striking face before it resumed flittering high among the thick leafy branches of a half-dozen tall trees.

It was a red-faced warbler, and a lifer for me, the 708th bird species I have seen. While I watched it, and another, flitting about for at least 10 minutes, that one glimpse as it settled briefly on a tree limb that was in the open, was the only one in which I could identify it.

Warbler, red-faced. I saw one up Ramsey Canyon

Red-faced warbler. — Wikimedia photo

The warblers were flying with about a half-dozen redstarts, and it was impossible for me to tell which was which when they were moving. Both birds are similar in size, although the redstart is slightly larger. The two species are rarely seen outside of Southeast Arizona or Southwest New Mexico when they migrate up from Mexico and South America for the spring and summer.

I saw my first painted redstart, back in 2006, in Zion National Park, which is located in Southern Utah.

This day, in Arizona’s Ramsey Canyon, these beautiful redstarts, with their black bodies, red bellies and distinctive white wing bars, were just about everywhere along the creek-side hike. It wasn’t until the trail reached the top of the main trail, where it looped across Ramsey Creek before heading back down to the trailhead, that I saw the warblers.

My grandson and I joined a half-dozen other birders on the lookout for them after someone noted they had spotted a red-faced warbler. Thankfully, I had my binoculars focused on the branch when the only one I could identify landed briefly.

What a treat.

My grandson, however, was more excited about seeing four white-tailed deer as we hiked, and the fantastic giant trees that grew beside the creek, which laughed and gurgled its way over rocks and down small waterfalls as it made its way down the canyon.

These things excited me, too. The red-faced warbler was just the chocolate syrup on rich French vanilla ice cream, which is always good enough to eat without any topping.

            Bean Pat: A Totem Town http://tinyurl.com/nn6gqxj A great armchair travel blog. I’ve been to this town, and loved it, too.

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            Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. –Charles Richard

This day, standing beneath a covered shelter on a bridge across a pond at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge with my son, Lewis, was a seized day that left me with special memories. -- Photo by Pat Bean.

This day, standing beneath a covered shelter on a bridge across a pond at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge during a storm, with my son, Lewis, was a seized day that left me with special memories. — Photo by Pat Bean.

Seize the Day

            Just a few quotations that hopefully will inspire you to not let today pass by unnoticed.

Enduring that same storm was a scissor-tailed flycatcher that I captured with my camera through the rain. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Enduring that same storm was a scissor-tailed flycatcher that I captured with my camera through the rain. — Photo by Pat Bean

Live every day as if it were going to be your last; for one day you’re sure to be right.” — Harry “Breaker” Harbord Morant

            “Go for it now. The future is promised to no one.” — Wayne Dyer

            Just FYI, I’m currently reading Dyer’s recent book, I Can See Clearly Now. His much earlier Your Erroneous Zones had a major impact on making my life better back in the 1970s. Dyer is one of my heroes.

“Every man dies. Not every man really lives.”Braveheart

            This final is a quote from the toast my son, Michael, made at his older sister’s wedding. “May you live, so that when you die, you know the difference.” It’s one of my favorite quotes.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Eagle flight http://tinyurl.com/ng5s3ca WOW! Also, Cecil the Lion http://tinyurl.com/njcg2n2 NY Times Opinion Peace. Well said.

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Once upon a Time

“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.” — Steven Spielberg

When not looking at my cell phone, I see the amazing details of Mother Nature's wonders all around me. -- Photo by Pat Bean

When not looking at my cell phone, I see the amazing details of Mother Nature’s wonders all around me. — Photo by Pat Bean

Before Phones Depended on Air Waves

            I’ve lived long enough to remember when phone numbers began with words and were only five digits long. If my memory serves me well, but no excuses if it doesn’t, the first word of my grandmother’s heavy black phone was Wright, which meant that the first number you dialed was a 9.

A quiet pond reflecting the world above and around. May I never be engrossed with a cell phone when I pass it by. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A quiet pone reflecting the world above and around. May I never be engrossed with a cell phone when I pass it by. — Photo by Pat Bean

I balked at getting a cell phone until my work, which wanted to reach me at all hours of the day and night, finally bought me one and paid for the service. Actually you didn’t usually have to purchase a phone back then. You got a free one when you signed a contract for a year or two of service.

Not too long ago, I watched a Verizon customer come in with a stupid phone that he had for many years, and which had died. The only free phone they would give him was a smart phone, which of course came with a higher monthly service charge. He opted to pay for a dumber version. Then they charged him to download what he had saved on his old phone to his new phone.

My son bought me one of those smart phones when I was traveling around the country in an RV so he could track my movements. But when I settled down here in the Sonoran Desert, I put the smart phone in the closet and reconnected my old cell phone. It texts, but if I want to write a W I have to punch 9 (and so on) as my phone doesn’t have a keyboard.

I chose to go back to my dumb phone because the monthly charge is less and everything smart phones can do, I can do on my laptop. Well except take photos, and I have a good, pocket digital, PowerShot Canon for that. And besides I’m not sure I want my kids tracking my every movement.

My problem is that, more often than not, I forget to take my cell phone with me when I go somewhere. It wouldn’t be a problem unless I needed to call someone, like if my car wouldn’t start. There are no phone books for cell phone numbers, and the only number I have memorized in my head is my own, and sometimes I have to think hard to remember it. All the phone numbers of friends, family, and care providers are saved on my dumb phone.

The upside of my forgetfulness is that I’m not missing the world around me.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Before I Forget http://tinyurl.com/obk8j96 Dishpans and Buckets – and Joy – another trip down memory lane.

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These two trees captured my attention along the Arivaca Cienega Trail because they so accurately represent the circle of life. -- Photo by Pat Bean

These two trees captured my attention along the Arivaca Cienega Trail because they so accurately represent the circle of life. — Photo by Pat Bean

I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods. Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup. ~Wendell Berry

Birdy Backroad Heaven

I woke up restless the other morning, and solved it by reviving a weekend morning tradition from back when I was putting in 50-hour work weeks. I packed a picnic lunch, gathered up my canine companion, Pepper, and we took off looking for a backroad and hoping it took us someplace where we could be away from the crowds and in one of Mother Nature’s wondrous landscapes.

Not the best picture, but in person it was magnificent. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Not the best picture, but in person it was magnificent. — Photo by Pat Bean

I found my backroad off Interstate 19 near Arizona’s border with Mexico. It led to the small town of Arivaca 23 miles away. I passed a Border Patrol stop near the interstate, but was waved on and told I only had to stop on the way back.

Speed limit on the narrow, twisting and bumpy back lane was mostly 45 mph, but it wasn’t often I was able to go that fast. But traffic, except for a couple of pickup trucks and a half-dozen motorcyclists traveling together, was non-existent. It was exactly what I had been hoping to find.

I didn't have to search hard to find this abode of Mother Nature. This sign set right beside the road just east of Arivaca. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I didn’t have to search hard to find this abode of Mother Nature. This sign set right beside the road just east of Arivaca. — Photo by Pat Bean

I found myself singing “On the Road Again.” I couldn’t belt it out with the grace of Willie Nelson but, it was good enough to put me in a yippy-I-got-away-from-the-world mood, especially when I had to dodge a greater roadrunner dashing across the road.

Just outside downtown Arivaca, which sits on the edge of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Pepper and I stopped at the refuge’s Arivaca Cienega site, which is a designated Audubon Important Birding Area. Thankfully, leashed pets were allowed on the trail, which cut through what was clearly a marsh during the desert area’s monsoon season. Cienega, in fact, translates as swamp. Birds twittered all around us, and among others I identified song sparrows, cardinals, Bell’s vireos and western kingbirds. A deer watched us a minute or two as we rounded a bend in the trail before scampering out of sight.

I didn’t think my morning, which was cooled by a light breeze still fresh from the desert night, could have been any more perfect. Then a pair of red-tailed hawks circled overhead and it did.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Luckenbach Loop http://tinyurl.com/n9cgt9v One of my favorite bloggers also enjoys a backroad trip.

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A thermal pool on the Morning Glory Trail in Yellowstone, which was on Budget Magazine's list of most beautiful sites.

A thermal pool on the Morning Glory Trail in Yellowstone, which was on Budget Magazine’s list of most beautiful sites. — Photo by Pat Bean

Awesome is Everywhere You Look

Budget Travel recently had an article listing the 33 most beautiful sights in the United States. I counted my blessings when I saw that I had seen 28 of the magazine’s 33 selected sites.

It seems that during the nine years I lived in and drove across this country in a small RV, I didn’t miss much. And to make up for those five sites I missed, I saw hundreds of other that easily could have made the list.

Taggart Lake in Teton National Park, which wasn't on the magazine's list.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Taggart Lake in Teton National Park, which wasn’t on the magazine’s list. — Photo by Pat Bean

            What was your most favorite place? I’m often asked this question when people learn about my travels. And I’m always stuck for an answer. How do you choose one from so many?    The truth is, I look out my third-floor balcony window and see beauty almost every day. This morning it was two brown-headed cowbirds flitting in a tree.  Every time the sun caught their black, back feathers, iridescent greens and purples shimmered in the air.

I guess I’m blessed because I saw beauty in these two unpopular birds just as I saw beauty in places like Yellowstone, Grand Canyon or Glacier national Parks.

Bean Pat: the ancient eavesdropper http://tinyurl.com/o8h4avw Degrees of shade. Another blogger who looks at the world as I do.

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Names

“You’ve got to invest in the world, you’ve got to read, you’ve got to go to art galleries, you’ve to find out the names of plants. You’ve got to start to love the world and know about the whole genius of the human race. We’re amazing people.” — Vivienne Westwood.

The name of this butterfly is  orange sulfur alfalfa, and while I know that the flower (I don't like to think of them as weeds), I have no idea which of the 150 varieties of dandelions this is. Do you? -- Photo by Pat Bean

The name of this butterfly is orange sulfur alfalfa, and while I know that the flower is a dandelion (I don’t like to think of them as weeds), I have no idea which of the 150 varieties of dandelions this is. Do you? — Photo by Pat Bean

Mine Fits
One of  the traits of a good writer is that he or she quickly learns that a tree is not a tree. It’s a cypress or a live oak, and a bird is not a bird, it’s a red-tailed hawk or a black-capped chickadee. Such proper names paint clearer images for readers to add pictures to your go with your words.
I thought about this when the recent writing prompt for my Story Circle Network online writing group was to explain the meaning of our names.  I wondered if  my name explains me.  I think it does. This is what I wrote:
And this mountain, the tallest in North America, has two names: Denali and Mount McKinley.-- Wikimedia photo

And this mountain, the tallest in North America, has two names: Denali and Mount McKinley.– Wikimedia photo

I was named Patricia Lee Joseph, the last name being a gift from my great- great-grandfather, who was a Portuguese sailor who jumped ship in Connecticut. The choice of Patricia  was because it was the name my mother had randomly punched out on a once-popular raffle board. She paid a quarter for the punch in hopes of winning a small cedar box.

My mother, who was pregnant with me at the time, said if she won she would name me Patricia. She won, and that box was part of her possessions for as long as I knew her. My middle name is my mother’s maiden name. She used to say it was quite appropriate because I had inherited  my wanderlust from her father, and my grandfather, Charles Forest Lee.

I have never been called Patricia, however. Well, except for the few times my mother was extremely angry at me and yelled: Patricia Lee Joseph!!!

Growing up, I was called the very southern Patsy Lee, which was OK until my first-grade valentine day when someone wrote Pasty instead of Patsy on my card.  One kid noticed, and for the rest of the week, I was taunted by kids calling me Pasty. Usually they called me Cootie Brain.

I realize now how well that unkindly moniker fit. I was like Hermione in Harry Potter, the girl who was a know-it-all who constantly waved her hand in the air to answer every question posed by a teacher. And my hair was always tangled with knots in it that could easily have hidden cooties.

I laugh at the image these days, but back then the nickname was the source of daily tears.

I always wanted to be called Pat in school, but a popular classmate already had claimed that name. I wasn’t called Pat until the sixth grade, when my family moved and I attended another school. From that time forward, I’ve always been Pat — and I never uttered Cootie Brain again until I was almost 40 and the hurt of my younger years had vanished.

By the time I divorced my wrong choice of a mate, when I also was almost 40,  I was already published as Pat Bean, and I chose to keep Bean instead of reverting back to my maiden name. I think Pat Bean makes a great byline, and it feels like me.

Bean Pat: Brevity http://tinyurl.com/ot64fuz One of my very favorite writing blogs

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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.

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