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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Art: American Bittern

Painting by Pat Bean

Painting by Pat Bean

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” –Picasso

            “A picture is a poem without words.” – Horace

Hiding in Plain Sight

An American bittern in its natural habitat. -- Wikimedia photo

An American bittern in its natural habitat. — Wikimedia photo

I haven’t seen many American bitterns, but the ones I have seen have all been surprises. By that, I mean that I usually had stared at a weedy patch of grass in shallow water for some time before seeing this wading bird.

And then I only saw it because it moved.

The American bittern is one of my favorite birds, perhaps because it’s striped feathers are in themselves art.

Nature is often hidden, sometimes overcome, seldom extinguished. – Francis Bacon      

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Daily Echo http://tinyurl.com/jt9r6rx Meeting on the Moor. My kind of walk.

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Winter gives this tree a stark beauty that spoke to me. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Winter gives this tree a stark beauty that spoke to me. — Photo by Pat Bean

            “If you look closely at a tree you’ll notice it’s knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully. – Matthew Fox

I didn't realize until I got home and compared my photos with ones I had taken earlier at Arivaca Cienega that the same tree had spoken to me when it was decked out in spring finery. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I didn’t realize until I got home and compared my photos with ones I had taken earlier at Arivaca Cienega that the same tree had spoken to me when it was decked out in spring finery.  — Photo by Pat Bean

There’s Beauty in Starkness

            I took a friend and her dog with me and my canine companion Pepper this past weekend to hike the Arivaca-Cienega trail 70 miles southeast of Tucson. It’s an important birding area, and a place where I’ve hiked before, only in the months when everything was lush and verdant..

I realized, looking at the naked branches of trees on the narrow, winding and rough backroad that we traveled to get there, that today was going to be different. It was winter and the color green was almost nowhere to be found.

But as before, beauty was around every corner. It was just different, a starkness that let you see deeper into the heart and soul and bones of Mother Nature.

It was an awesome day, even though we got there late and the birds were taking a nap somewhere out of sight. The exception was a pair of greater roadrunners that scurried across the road ahead of us as we headed back to Tucson.

I will return… Perhaps I can catch the tree in autumn.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Open Suitcase http://tinyurl.com/zohd9u6 Take an armchair train ride through Africa.

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Turtle Rock at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah.

Turtle Rock at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah.

            “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” – John Muir

 

A Turtle and a Lizard

One Saturday morning back in January of 1999, I woke up at o-dark-hundred feeling lazy and bored after a heavy-duty work week. My first inclination, as I noted in my journal that morning and reread for the first time this morning, was to turn over and go back to sleep. That, however, was quickly followed by the words “road trip” jumbling around in my brain.

Lizard petroglyph at ; Dinosaur National Monument, Utah

Lizard petroglyph at ; Dinosaur National Monument, Utah

Knowing which of those two thoughts would reinvigorate me more, my then canine companion Peaches and I set out on a day trip to Dinosaur National Monument, a mere 250 miles away from my Ogden, Utah, home. .

We left in time to see what I think is the most magical moment of the day, those seconds between night and dawn when the world is all gray and silvery and the world recatches its breath – and so do I. But we missed it because of the bright street lights on Harrison Boulevard as we exited the city. I was disappointed, but I consoled myself by knowing the day was young and there were still magical moments ahead that I wouldn’t miss. It’s the same feeling I have at the start of any road trip – and I’ve never been disappointed.

Among the sights I recorded on the drive to the dinosaur quarry were a farmer feeding his cows, snow in Echo Canyon and ice fishermen out on Strawberry Reservoir. I stopped in Heber for breakfast, where I was waited on by a grandmotherly woman who sweetly called me honey. Her words took me back to my Southern-raised origins.

There was more snow after Heber, but the road was mostly a sandy slush as the snowplows had already been out. I passed a guy rubbing snow on his car’s windshield to clear it, and was thankful my wipers and windshield fluid were keeping mine clean. The windshied fluid, however, ran out just as I was coming into Duchesne, where thankfully I stopped at a gas station and replaced it so I could see clearly again.

Just a few of the 1,500 or so dinosaur bones on display at the monument's enclosed quarry exhibit.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Just a few of the 1,500 or so dinosaur bones on display at the monument’s enclosed quarry exhibit. — Photo by Pat Bean

After Duchesne, it was sunny and bright all the way to the Dinosaur Monument, which was located east of Roosevelt. On arriving, I didn’t spend too much time looking at the actual bones of dinosaurs exposed by diggers in the quarry. I was more in the mood to explore the 10-mile Tilted Rocks Road, which is rife with petroglyphs and pictographs, and scenic views of Split Mountain, which a few years earlier I had rafted past on the Green River.

It was memories of a quick drive on this stretch many years earlier that had been in my mind as destination for this morning’s spur-of-the-moment road trip. And this time, as I had not earlier because someone else was in charge, I was able to leisurely enjoy the drive at my own pace. I stopped often to get closer up views of the wall paintings and landscape. I saw mule deer, rabbits and visited a shelter site that may have first been used over 9,000 years ago.

The views of Turtle Rock and the Lizard on the Rock were two of my favorite sightings. They held the magic for me that made up for missing the gray still seconds between day and night.

I didn’t pull back into my driveway until well after dark, and after encountering more snow in the mountains. It had been an invigorating road trip, and I didn’t feel lazy or bored anymore; nor did Peaches, who enjoyed a good romp in the snow on our return drive.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Glenrosa Journeys http://tinyurl.com/htmsjfj Do a bit of bird watching with Candace.

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The view of the Catalina Mountains this morning from the parking lot of my apartment complex. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The view of the Catalina Mountains this morning from the parking lot of my apartment complex. — Photo by Pat Bean

            “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.: — Vivian Green

Days for Being Lazy and Reading

We had snow in Tucson the January month I began nesting here. Three years later, we had snow in Tucson again.

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The peaks a couple of days ago when they were mostly hidden behind a cloud curtain. — Photo by Pat Bean

My first Sonoran Desert snowfall was fairy like, and I got a photograph before it all melted a couple of hours later. This past week’s snowfall never made it down to the valley. But unlike my first one, which dusted the Catalina Mountains fo only a day, this one has provided me with mountain snowfall vistas for a full week. I’m assuming that while we got consistent rain in the foothills where I live, it snowed at higher elevations .

In the meantime, no matter how many things I wrote down each morning on my daily to-do list, by 10 o’clock, all I wanted to do was curl up in my recliner by a window with a book, and watch in total contentment as the cold, overcast, rainy day passed by my window..

And mostly, with occasional outings in the weather to walk my canine companion Pepper, that’s exactly what I did.

Today it’s sunny in the valley, and the Catalinas are losing their frosting. The sun defrosted my lazy ways too. Already I’ve cleaned house; spent an hour on the telephone with Comcast trying to get them not to raise my internet fees as they do every year in January; went to the store and bank; retrieved my mail, which has been sitting in my box for a week, read a bit, painted a bit, crocheted a bit, cooked a bit, and now am writing this blog – and it’s still early afternoon.

The sun and warmer day have recharged my batteries.

Bean Pat: In recognition of the death of David Bowie, my pat on the back today goes to the Wall Street Journal’s article and video on the rock star. http://tinyurl.com/hgagykl   And as a writer, this is one of my favorite quotes by Bowie: “Don’t you love the Oxford Dictionary? When I first read it, I thought it was a really really long poem about everything.”

 

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The color purple makes my world better, especially when it trims up some white flowers and helps attract a butterfly.  Photo by Pat Bean

Flowers make  my world better, especially when they attract a butterfly.           Photo by Pat Bean

 

  “The salvation of America and of the human race depends on the next election … But so it was last year, and so it was the year before, and our fathers believed the same thing 40 years ago.”    

While these words might have been written just yesterday, they were actually written 168 years ago by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The color blue cheers up my world too, especially when used by glass artist Chihuly in this outdoor sculpture piece. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The color blue cheers up my world too, especially when used by glass artist Chihuly in this outdoor sculpture piece. — Photo by Pat Bean

I came across the quote when I was reading my 1998 journal, some of which was written at the same time I was reading Emerson’s journals and, at the same time, ranting about talk show hosts like Jerry Springer and narrow-minded windbags who preach of Christian values but seem to have no Christianity in them.

I was a reporter at the time and so couldn’t turn off what was going on in the world, which some days I now do for the sake of my sanity. Instead, back then, I comforted myself with the thoughts of writers like Emerson, who recognized the world has its cruel side, always has and probably always will, but focused more on its positive attributes.

“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, and hospitable the splendor of sun and star. I will play by game out,” he wrote, as well as: “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 sun is raining light.”

            For me, it’s been writers like Maya Angelou, who believed God put rainbows in the sky to give us hope, and Charles Kuralt, who saw the everyday kindness of the back roads as making up for the acts of greed in the headlines, who have made my world better.

It does no harm just once in a while to acknowledge that the whole country isn’t in flames, that there are people in the country besides politicians, entertainers and criminals,” wrote Kuralt.

If, as my grandmother would say, it looks like the world is going to hell in a hand basket – and I can’t disagree in these troubling times – there is good out there, too. Neighbors helping neighbors when hard times fall, kindness and thoughtfulness as part of everyday, ordinary lives, and friendships and partnerships that last a lifetime.

Yes. Nothing ever seems to change.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: CindyKnoke http://tinyurl.com/jsbmjdl I’ve always wanted to live for six months on a houseboat on the Mississippi River. It’s on my bucket list. But this houseboat in Amsterdam looks pretty cool, too. What do you think?

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100 Things I’m Thankful For

“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.” — Alphonse Karr
I'm thankful I got to ride a camel with my 4-year-old great-grandson Kaiden. It was a first for both of us. -- Photo by my granddaughter, Keri.

I’m thankful I got to ride a camel with my 4-year-old great-grandson Kaiden. It was a first for both of us. — Photo by my granddaughter, Keri.

In No Particular Order

1, That at 76, I rode a camel for the first time – and with a four-year-old great-grandson.

  1. America’s soldiers, who fight for my freedom, especially the ones I have as a woman able to travel alone and voice my opinion without fear of being stoned. I think daily of my sisters across the ocean who suffer the tyranny of men.
  2. The vivid colors that sunrises and sunsets paint the canvas sky.
  3. My canine companion, Pepper, my shadow who is full of joy and who keeps me from ever feeling lonely.
  4. Listening to a storm rage outside while I’m cozily standing on my third-floor balcony looking out over the Sonoran Desert, for which I am also thankful.

    I'm even thankful for Pepper after she's killed a stuffed cat and I have to pick up the mess. -- Photo by Pat Bean

    I’m even thankful for Pepper after she’s killed a stuffed cat and I have to pick up the mess. — Photo by Pat Bean

  5. Friends, far and near, who know and accept me for who I am, an old broad who is now trying to live life so there will be no regrets.
  6. That magic, silent gray minute between which night becomes day.
  7. A new journal and a good pen.
  8. Learning something new every day.
  9. Air conditioning, heaters, washing machines, soft blankets, a comfortable chair with a good reading lamp, hot baths and all the other comforts of life so abundant to me.
  10. The humming birds, verdins, finches and even woodpeckers that visit my nectar feeder daily, as well as all the other species of these winged creatures that live beside us, often unseen.
  11. Books and the authors who write them. Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley 
  12. Road trips.

    I'm thankful for the color yellow. -- Photo by Pat Bean

    I’m thankful for the color yellow. — Photo by Pat Bean

  13. The multiple moods of the Catalina Mountains that form the backdrop for my view from my bedroom balcony. They shimmer in sunlight, take on a green hue after a heavy rain, and play hide-and-seek among the clouds on stormy days.
  14. The amazing and supportive women of Story Circle Network, a group of writing women to which I belong. .
  15. Fields of colorful wild flowers, especially Texas’ bluebonnets.
  16. Lake reflections, especially those that let you enjoy the vivid color of autumn trees twice.
  17. My passion for nature and wildlife that makes each and every day amazing with surprises that range from a double rainbow to a speckled fawn stepping out from the trees.
  18. Every morning I awake ready for another day.
  19. All National Parks, but especially my beloved Zion in Southern Utah.

    A Texas sunrise

    A Texas sunrise

  20. That I’m a writer and can capture life on the wing and live through the good times twice.
  21. Comfortable shoes, cargo pants and bright-colored T-shirts, my wardrobe of choice.
  22. My life, the hard of it and the joy of it, which has made me the person I am today.
  23. Heartfelt hugs
  24. That I got to see the return of California condors to the wild and wolves to Yellowstone
  25. Ibuprofen to relieve aching bones and muscles after hikes and on cold wet days.
  26. Holding hands with family at Thanksgiving while everyone tells what they are thankful for.
  27. That I am reasonably healthy, and that I can pay for decent health insurance, even if it takes a huge bite out of my limited budget.
  28. The pair of great-horned owls that mated in a tree in my apartment complex and gave us three young ones who posed for my camera.
  29. My good women friends, Kim, Kris and Jean, who know all my secrets and won’t tell because I know theirs, too. And my good male friend and former colleague Charlie, who kept me sane when we worked together and who still cheers me on.

    Acadia National Park in Maine

    Acadia National Park in Maine

  30. African, cream-laced coffee, something I became addicted to in 2007 when I visited Kenya and Tanzania and went on safari.
  31. Large, gnarly live oak trees that provide beauty to the soul and shade on a hot summer day in Texas.
  32. Gurgling brooks, flowing rivers, memories of giant rapids I’ve survived and waterfalls.
  33. Personal achievements of family members and friends – and of course my own, too. .
  34. Scented candles
  35. Completing a difficult task.
  36. Smiles and belly laughs
  37. My small apartment in which I’ve nested now for three years without my feet getting too itchy.
  38. Happy hour on my balcony with a good friend and a stiff Jack and Coke.
  39. When the Palo Verde trees bloom and the roadsides turn yellow.
  40. My pocket Canon digital camera with its great zoom – and stabilizer that allows this amateur photographer to take good, sometimes great, photos.
  41. Antibiotics and vaccinations
  42. Helen Reddy singing “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar.”
  43. That the price of gas has dropped.
  44.   My wrinkles, flabby belly and sagging boobs that are well-earned and name me survivor. I’m just happy to still have some go in me.
  45. The journey between destinations
  46. People who still believe that despite all the wars and chaos in the world, there is still hope for peace, even if not in our lifetimes.
  47. Moisturizing cream for my dry skin.
  48. The almost daily e-mails I share with a daughter-in-law.
  49. Time to read, and good glasses that make it possible.
  50. Short hikes that are still within my ability, like the one to Emerald Pools in Zion, which I did on my birthday this year.
  51. Good memories of my mother.
  52. My daily walks with Pepper
  53. WordPress for hosting this blog
  54. An evening spent in a clean hotel room after a long day’s drive
  55. Aspens in fall, when their colors twinkle in the air and the leaves sing to you, which happened to me last month when I took a road trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
  56. Waking up to a world made pristine by an overnight snowfall.
  57. People who like and comment on my blog.
  58. The honking of geese as they fly overhead
  59. Butterflies
  60. Board games with competitive people who are as good losers as they are winners.
  61. Full moon nights, or dark nights with thousands of stars
  62. A good haircut, which was almost a rarity this past year.
  63. That I now have a great-granddaughter to go with my three great grandsons.
  64. That I haven’t had any recent dental problems, especially since I have no dental insurance.
  65. Bra-less days.
  66. The fun I have with my watercolor paintings, even if they aren’t masterpieces.
  67. My curiosity
  68. Roger Tory Peterson, who created the first user-friendly field guides for identifying birds, a hobby that has given me many hours of enjoyment. .
  69. That Pepper, unlike my former canine companion Maggie, likes to cuddle up close on cold nights – warm nights too, which is OK because I have air conditioning.
  70. Chocolate and ice cream.
  71. Scenic byways and backroads – which I promise myself I’m going to travel more of in 2016.
  72. Days when my mutual funds make money instead of losing it.
  73. Time alone with my thoughts.
  74. Audible books, especially on nights when my eyes are tired but I can’t sleep.
  75. The GPS, which I finally got this year.
  76. My brother Robert, who moved to Tucson this year, and who hasn’t once pushed my buttons the wrong way. We’ve done that to each other over the years.
  77. The many opportunities to see live plays in Tucson. I’ve gone to quite a few this year, and not once been disappointed.
  78. Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and his sunflower paintings, and all the other artists who charge my creative battery.
  79. My writing desk with its window view and computer that has behaved all this past year.
  80. The fun stationary a granddaughter gave me, and our notes back and forth to each other.
  81. The many long talks I’ve had with my oldest daughter this past year while she drove to work. They’ve brought us closer than we’ve ever been.
  82. Pedicures and French manicures.
  83. Going to sports events and other activities involving my three grandsons, ages 14, 15 and 16, who live in Tucson.
  84. My good non-stick skillet and favorite pan

88 The two hikes I’ve taken up Ramsey Canyon this year, one of which gave me a red-faced warbler, which is now the 707th species on my life bird list.

  1. That there are still plenty of birds to add to my life list
  2. My monthly Social Security check.
  3. Soft flannel pajamas
  4. The color purple.
  5. The new recliner I bought this year when I was suffering from back pain, but I’m thankful I don’t have to sleep in it any more.
  6. That I can wake up without an alarm clock, even if it’s at 5:30 a.m.
  7. Maps to dream over. .
  8. The public library, which gives me endless books to read when my budget is strained to the breaking point.
  9. Fireflies
  10. The fragrant scent of a blooming gardenia bush, which always reminds me of my grandmother.
  11. Mosquito repellant.
  12. Last, but certainly least, my family, which includes five children, 15 grandchildren, 4 ½ great-grandchildren, and my adopted grandchildren, Cory and his wonderful family. And BJ, who recently graduated from high school, and whom I haven’t seen in way too long

 

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, whn contc

The first aspens I saw were off in the distance, where their golden deliciousness stood out in contrast to the dark evergreens -- Photo by Pat Bean

The first aspens I saw were off in the distance, where their golden deliciousness stood out in contrast to the dark evergreens — Photo by Pat Bean

“Willows whiten, aspens quiver, Little breezes dusk and shiver” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Late in August the lure of the mountains becomes irresistible. Seared by the everlasting sunfire, I want to see running water again, embrace a pine tree, cut my initials in the bark of an aspen, bet bit by a mosquitos, see a mountain bluebird, find a big blue columbine, get lost in the firs, hike above timberline, sunbathe on snow and eat some ice, climb the rocks and stand in the wind at the top of the world on the peak of Tukuhnikivats. – Edward Abbey            

Aspens at Last

            Jacob Lake, a tiny community that sits at the junction of Highway 89A and State Road 67 and which is the turnoff to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, sits at an elevation of 8,000 feet.   I had expected to see aspen trees by this elevation, but none came into my view, although I usually began seeing these scarred, white-trunk trees around 7,000 feet. Of course that was when I lived in Utah, and now I’m in Arizona.

The second grove of aspens was right next to the road. I stood beneath this one and let it sing to me.

The second grove of aspens was right next to the road. I stood beneath this one and let it sing to me. — Photo by Pat Bean

Still hopeful that the goal of this particular road trip, to see aspen trees in their golden autumn colors, would be met, I took the turnoff  for the Grand Canyon. There was still 44 miles to go before I reached the rim of what many people consider to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world, so there was still time for this road trip’s mission to be accomplished.

And it was – although I was closer to Grand Canyon National Park than I expected before the landscape began to be dotted with patches of yellow that challenged the color of the sun. I was delighted.

Aspen trees gown in colonies from a single seedling that sends up its children through the earth into the sunlight. If you look closely, you’ll see how similar each tree in close proximity looks like its neighbor; and how different they look from a nearby patch of aspens that also hover close together with roots and branches entangled.

 

Near the top of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Near the top of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. — Photo by Pat Bean

Until its death, only the mother tree can send up new seedlings. Then another tree takes its place. It has to do with some chemical or such that the mother tree sends out as a birth control pill to the other trees, is how it was once explained to me. While an aspen tree can live only up to about 150 years, there is one large aspen grove in Utah near Fish Lake that is 80,000 thousand years old. Just thinking about this sends shivers through by brain neurons.

As I stopped to stand beneath one of the aspen groves, I was reminded that not only are these trees pleasing to the eye, but to the ear as well. The breeze rippling through their coin-sized leaves sent a pleasing melody into the air. The aspens sang for me.

 

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Life’s Purpose   http://tinyurl.com/ocjqsok  Why limit yourself to one passion. As a person who has many passions, this blog appealed to me. Even though I know that it’s the people with only one passion who may accomplish the greatest things in life. But oh what they miss.

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