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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

            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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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

 

 

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