Outdoors

A Few Fab Finds and Some Fun

Found myself in serious need of ramping up my energy levels and changing the mood this past week. So I’ve tried a few different things to shake up the routine and shake off the blues.

DANCE

First, I mixed in more music with my days. The best way I know to ramp up the tunes involves that lovely free app called Pandora. I tapped on something new called Bossa Nova. Much more than the simple label Brazilian Jazz, it’s music that makes you want to dance but leaves you feeling mellow and laid back. Perfect while prepping or eating dinner. I think MSH and I need to learn some new dance steps.

ROAD TRIP

Turns out Pandora also has this thing called “Browse All Genre Stations.” It lists thirty-six genres, or types, of music you can explore. So I tapped on Road Trips. That gave me some options like Country Road TripFamily Road Trip, Road Trippin’ and Classic Commute.

So far I’ve only tried out Family Road Trip. Instantly addicted! I didn’t want to try any of the other stations because this had EVERYTHING!  Fifties to this year, Elvis to One Republic, Billy Joel to Rascal Flatt.

Can’t wait to explore the rest of the Road Trip stations. Then I plan on making my way through the other thirty-six genres and all those possibilities.

TAYLOR

Taylor Swift doesn’t fill everyone’s teacup, but I stumbled on her latest music video. What a bunch of fun! She dances and sings her way through all sorts of trends in “Shake It Off.” Mostly she’s laughing at herself, not taking things too seriously. But there are some seriously good dancers highlighted in the video. Made me want to dance, and  I laughed out loud. My favorite thirteen-year old laughed, too. That’s a good sign. Best of all it kind of makes me feel younger, which I consider a major plus!

DOG POETRY

Have you heard of Billy Collins? If you’re the kind of person who says they don’t like poetry, then you just need to spend four minutes with this video of Billy Collins in a TED talk sharing two poems (the second one is my favorite) about dogs. Yes. Dogs. Hearing his dry wit makes all the difference if you’re iffy about poetry at all.  Turns out I checked out one of his collections last week at the library without realizing who I’d stumbled on. What a great find!

TWITTERPATED

I think I might have gotten hooked. For those of you still fresh from the womb, i.e. forty years or younger, you might not recognize the term twitterpated. It’s a word that debuted in the Disney movie “Bambi.” It means infatuated or obsessed or smitten. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Twitter, the social media app.

Although, oddly, it’s how I’ve found myself feeling about Twitter recently. There’s something about “tweeting” that feels different from posting status updates. Maybe it’s the challenge of a limited number of characters. There’s a sense of immediacy on Twitter that I find fascinating as well. Whatever it is, I’m tweeting, like a newborn baby bird, uncertain of my wings and voice, but willing to learn to fly.

NOT INTERNET ADDICTED, HONEST

Lest you think all I do involves the internet, here’s evidence to the contrary.

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  • Thursday I danced with my favorite three-year old and favorite one-year old while MSH played the piano. We’ve all got some sweet moves. Really!
  • The desert sage burst into bloom overnight! Check out those purples in my slideshow above. And while you’re at it, take in the yellow blossoms, too. And don’t forget the neon orange Bird of Paradise that brightens the view outside one of my windows.
  • The sunrises this past week left me breathless and glad I got out of bed more than a few times.
  • Enjoyed a candlelight dinner in the cool (yes, cool) evening air outdoors with MSH, music wafting out to the patio from the stereo inside. Tasted better than any five-star restaurant. Nothing tops the view of the night sky either.
  • Did I mention the mile and a half walk home last week in a rare morning rainstorm? I’d recommend it the next time you have a chance. Ditch the umbrella, point your face towards the clouds and let the sky wash life’s dust from your shoulders.
The view just before the downpour.

The view just before the downpour.

Hoping for more rain later today and tomorrow. Either way, dancing’s gonna happen because I’ve got my new tunes on.

~~~~~

Have you found anything new and fun that adds energy to your day?

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Categories: Fun, Music, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It Pays to Look a Little Closer

What in the world?

What in the world?

I’ve driven past this sculpture countless times in the past few years since it went up,  baffled and only slightly curious. I’ve even walked under or around it in the past few weeks, but that doesn’t mean I really saw it.

It’s about twenty feet off a main road and fronts a canal with its two paved walking/biking trails. A cop parks there some mornings, either for a donut break or to catch speeders. It’s not really a spot that encourages visitors to sit or slow down long enough to pay attention to it.

Weird!

That’s what I’d think to myself. Until yesterday.

Yesterday I slowed down, wandered around it and took a few photos. I also read the inscriptions.

Turns out it’s a representation of an invention drawn up by Leonardo da Vinci called an Airscrew, kind of an early concept of the helicopter. You can read more about it here and here if you want more details.

Leonardo's sketch of a flying machine.

Leonardo’s sketch of a flying machine.

Several quotes encircle the base of the sculpture. A fun spiral word mirror for the “wings” above the inscriptions. To read each quote I had to walk all around the base. An interesting interactive twist, wouldn’t you say? Here are the three masterfully chosen quotes.

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered. The point is to discover them.” – Leonardo da Vinci

 ~~~

“The process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder.” -Isaac Newton

 ~~~~~

“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” – Leonard da Vinci

This Night Heron is about a foot tall.

This Night Heron is about a foot tall.

Did I fail to mention the sculpture also sits at the northeast corner of the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch? That’s an important detail, I suppose, in coming to an understanding. You see, The Rip, as I affectionately call it, is a renowned birding location. Several rare birds hang out there.  I suspect Leonardo’s curiously odd drawing (and now work of art) of a way to achieve flight serves as an homage to the bird refuge that the riparian preserve has become.

Not only that, but I think it serves as an invitation to discovery and wonder. I’ve logged a bunch of miles over the 110 acre plot of land and have never become bored. I’m always seeing something new or in a different light, always surprised, delighted or refreshed as I round each curve in the trail.

Looking up through the sculpture's wings.

Looking up through the sculpture’s wings.

On researching a bit more, I found out that this sculpture is considered “the crown jewel” in the city’s evolving trail system. Meant to provide shade, a place to rest, and a chance to refill a water bottle at the fountain there, it also invites curiosity and contemplation for those willing to take the time to wonder and pay attention.

Draw your own conclusions and metaphors.

I regret that it took me so long to look closer at this work of art. Driving or walking past, this spiral can now remind me of the possibilities waiting for me along my path, wherever that might lead.

 

The attribution, cemented in.

The attribution, cemented in.

 

 

Categories: Outdoors, phoenix, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Don’t Use Your Words, At Least, Not Just Yet

It’s Gratituesday! Silence. Yes, silence. That’s my grateful thought today.

From what I can tell, not a lot of people are out and about at the real beginning of the day. Not too many get to see such sights as this, live and in person.

Ya gotta get out of bed pretty dang early to see this kind of thing.

Ya gotta get out of bed pretty dang early to see this kind of thing.

I don’t mind either.

I love, love, love my morning quiet. My ME time. I love not having to engage my vocal cords until I’ve been awake a few hours.

This isn’t a recent development either. I recall as a teen, back in the dark ages just after the dinosaurs died off, snarking at my Mom for having the audacity to speak to me before I’d been awake a full hour. I just wanted quiet. I wanted nothing more than silence and a non-requirement for speech, until I felt fully awake, all gears turning, internal meters running.

Thing is, with so many siblings, three sisters, three brothers, plus the requisite two parental units, I didn’t get much quiet time. Ever. Especially not in the morning. My parents apparently rose before the sun, went to bed sometime after midnight. In fact, I wonder if they ever slept.

And I shared a bedroom.

My entire life, I have shared a bedroom with someone. At home, sisters. At college, dorm mates and room mates. Then married, a husband.

I kinda want to know what it’s like to have my own room.

Luckily MSH seems allergic to mornings, so, now that the fledglings have flown, I have mornings to myself. Long, quiet, uninterrupted stretches of silence, solitude, and general perfection.

I hate to waste a second of it on the mundane tasks of the day, like sleeping in,  or eating, or chores or errands.

Why do such ordinary things when I can think uninterrupted, or write, or walk, or bike, or simply sit and observe the day unfolding.

Yes, early rising required for a live viewing of such sights.

Yes, early rising required for a live viewing of such sights.

I revel in my mornings, the sun just peeking out, tentative and sometimes even colorful. I love the different sort of silence of bird chatter. I love that traffic hasn’t reached a fever pitch and I can still hear the leaves rustling when a slight breeze ruffles through. I love the melodic and distant sounding wind chimes adding their bits to the silence.

The light inside the house so early in the day, a soft, reflected, easy on the eyes glow prods the senses awake gently, slowly. Don’t we all deserve such tenderness at the beginning of a day?

Days that start with long silences and soft light, that require no spoken words for a while, always result in more calm throughout, regardless of what’s thrown at me once the talking starts.

Am I spoiled? Heck no. I earned this quiet, this time of me-ness. And I’ll defend it to the death. Although, from what I’ve seen, few want to claim these hours as their own. So I anticipate no battles.

I know there are households with young tots where such luxuries reside only in dreams. Where sleep is what one does with the beginning and ending edges of the night. I know insistent hungry voices clamber on to beds and snuggle under warm blankets and push and shove and disturb peace at all hours.

And such knowledge makes me all the more grateful for my early uninterrupted hours.

If I’d known such mercies existed, I’d have looked to the future with more hope than I did. Ah, sweet mornings. How I love thee.

The rest of you, please, just keep sleeping in so I can have my silence and my alone time.

 

Sweet, yes?

Sweet, yes?

“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” ~ Francis Bacon

 

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Mental Health, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Mondaze: Thoughts of a Turtle Wannabe

MSH has this dream of buying a motor home and living in it, as in a permanent residence. Me, not so much. A very small point of contention, really, in the grand scheme of things.

Anyway, I suppose that’s the ultimate way for a human to emulate turtle behavior. One could also argue that living out of a backpack would qualify more as turtle-like living. But that’s a whole different idea completely, if you ask me. Although there was a time, thirty odd years ago when that sounded completely rad and doable. (rad= seventies speak for radical, cool, awesome, epic, sick)

Me, I’m more like a turtle without a shell, so my unmovable house has to serve as my protective casing. That poses a problem for someone who needs outdoor time every single day.

photo-23 copy 9Family, I’m okay with. We can hang out and I don’t feel like I have to be “up” or pretend cheerfulness or some other mood when I’m just feeling “meh.” Even better when we’re all feeling the same kind of summer-heat-has-sucked-the-life-out-of-our-energy-reserves blahness.

Mostly, I just want to be left alone to do my thing.

When I go walking in the wee hours of the a.m., if I pass by and say “morning” to five people, that’s about, oh, five people too many. Ten people and I consider the place overrun by a crowd. Sheesh, you’d think they’d all stay in bed that early in the morning, but no, they all have to converge on MY walking place at MY private walking meditation hour.

I’m not always so acerbic and bitter sounding. Just lately I’ve felt that way. I blame it on the summer heat and probably something else that I haven’t figured out yet. Not feeling particularly motivated to analyze myself either.

photo-24 copy 5I ran across this turtle a couple of mornings ago while on my walk. He’s a pretty substantial size for around here. Of course, when it heard my steps on the gravel it pulled its head and legs in and hunkered down waiting for me to go away. I didn’t. Nope. I sat down on a nearby bench and pretended to not be interested in him. A bad plan, I have to admit. The turtle wasn’t fooled by my ploy.

I imagined, after a while, bad words in some turtle tongue racing about inside its little green head. “Stupid human, why won’t she just go away and leave me alone. Can’t she see I just want to be left in peace to enjoy the scenery by myself?”

I felt connected to this semi-animate-pretend-rock. I understood its need for solitude, simply wanting freedom to wander alone and ponder, unhindered by morning niceties and unspoken rules of trail etiquette. So I apologized and left.

Shuffling off down the trail I looked back hopefully, only once. The turtle felt not the least bit accommodating in showing its tail, feet or head even from a distance.

I’m afraid I do that myself lately. If my garage had any spare space I’d seldom show my face outside my house, except at ultra early, ultra late hours when interaction with other humans remains least likely.

What’s up with that?

Maybe I’m trying to keep reality at bay after my two weeks off from life. Maybe my brain feels too cluttered to allow in any outsider input from conversation.

Can you say vacation to recover from a vacation?

Nah.

Maybe Arizona summer psychologically demands something akin to bears hibernating and I’m secretly part bear.

Rawr.

Um. No.

Let’s just say I’m slightly anti-social lately. I think I’ll just roll with it.

It’ll pass in a day or so.

Or when the mercury dips back down into the nineties again.

Then I’ll be like:

 

tmnt 2

 

 

 

 

or something along those lines.

 

Categories: Mental Health, Mondaze, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Climbing, Shredding and Burning

Friday Letter to my Kids

Dear J, J, L and L,

I’ve been “on vacation” for the past two weeks. As you know from personal experience that means, (ninety-five percent chance) staying with relatives. That’s not a bad thing; it simply means that most of our vacations involve family, not visiting Europe or going on a cruise or hitting the slopes or the beach.

We did do some of that. We had some good times on the slopes for a few years. In fact big J practically emerged from the womb skiing, and little J took to skiing like a seed to dirt. I still get this ache in my stomach about J breaking his collarbone on the first day of a four-day ski trip. No more snowboarding that season. The pain of the break, I’m guessing, felt like nothing compared to the pain of watching everyone else racing down the mountain while you had to lounge around at the lodge every day.

Ouch! I hope you’ve made up in quality what you missed in quantity on that trip.

Given that you put yourself to sleep at night by boarding down a specific run makes me feel pretty good about all the days you managed to get in on the mountain after that.

We never made it to the ocean with all of us together. L and L enjoyed that singular experience. Spring break, we found out the hard way, isn’t really the ideal time to hang out in the Pacific. Chilly, fierce waves, a strong undertow, but plenty of space on the beach. We managed to get a sunburn, sand stuck in every imaginable and unimaginable spot including the sleeping bags. One of my other favorite photos ever? The sun setting orange over the ocean in a thirty mile an hour breeze, and L and L silhouetted just so. Good times, good times.

More than a few of our camping trips involved rain, a couple of them fairly significant amounts. North Carolina rains pale only in comparison to Oklahoma rains. Either way, we ended up soaked, clothes hanging everywhere inside the tent, muddy boots, big smiles, flooded lakes or streams. Good thing we cooked over a backpacking stove or we’d have eaten cold food all those times. I loved big L’s computer drawing, back in the dark ages of computer graphics, of one of our camping in the rain events. Wish we could find that. It’d make a great children’s book. Especially the mud monster part.

Let’s not forget, L and L, Queen of the Flame and Little Muddy Foot. Those two young girls will forever be tender spots in my heart of camping hearts.

Rock climbing and rappelling figure prominently in our getaways. Little did I know what I set in motion when I took that wilderness adventure course. I look back now and shake my head in amazement that I looked on as your Dad roped you in and let you climb at Index or scrambled all over Spire Rock or swing suspended from whatever boulder, cliff or mountain happened to be handy. Dad still refers to little J as “our Arachnid” for your epic climbing abilities.

Yes, most of our vacations involved camping in a tent, which isn’t bad at all.

You also got plenty of experience with airline travel, surprisingly, which has come in handy tons of times, and has become old hat for others. Little J had the chutzpah to backpack Europe once and visit Paris another time. Big J now travels regularly for work, getting around airports and big cities as if they’re simply different runs at a ski resort.

Many of our vacations involved road trips as well. But that, oh my, that is another story or ten for another day and another letter.

Wish we’d taken you to Yellowstone. And I’m sorry, but I never could make myself feel comfortable with taking you to Grand Canyon, even though it’s been less than half a day’s drive for the past eighteen years. My heart couldn’t bear the thought of you anywhere near the edge of an impossible precipice. And Disneyland remains elusive as a family getaway, even though most of you have managed to get there on your own.

I’d like to think we’ll somehow manage one last ginormous family vacation with all the spouses and *babygrands. Maybe that’s why family reunions happen; attempts at reliving or making up for the past.

I’m pretty sure we made good use of our weekends, summers and holidays. I hope you feel the same. Those rank as some of my favorite memories together.

Would surely love some more evenings by a campfire with ya’ll again sometime.

All my love,

Mom

 

*babygrands = grandbabies or grandchildren

photo-23 copy 5

 

 

“…there ain’t no journey what don’t change you some.”

~ David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

 

 

 

Categories: Friday Letters, Fun, Memory Lane, Outdoors, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Color My World

I bring my binoculars out walking lately hoping for some fun sightings. I saw a coyote frolicking in one of the ponds last week, but that was twelve feet away. And I’ve heard there’s a bobcat in the area. That’d be fun to see from a distance. And you never know when some odd or unfamiliar bird will be flitting about.

All of today’s delights were up close and colorful. That’s surprising because the high temperatures have crossed the century mark. I think of summer here in the desert as drab black and white and gray. Even the color of sand seems to bleach out in the heat after a month or two. This morning’s walk through the local riparian preserve proved me wrong.

When I saw these tiny bursts of yellow with their brown buttons looking perky and bright I caught myself smiling.

photo 2-2 copy 9These fuchsia blooms won’t last much more than another day in such heat.

photo 4-4 copyLike pearls on a vine, these puff-balls diffuse the sunlight and capture the eye with a humorous elegance.

photo 1-5 copy 3A smallish black bird with christmas red markings under its wings showed up along the trail, but flew off before I could get my camera focused.

Red Penstemon tempt the hummingbirds and brighten the landscape.

photo-24 copy 2This gray rabbit dug a trench in the gravel and cradled himself in its coolness. His coloring and the rock colors match almost perfectly. If not for his face twitching and his dark distinctive ears I’d have missed him lying there. For all the hundreds of bunnies I see every time I walk here, I’ve never seen this behavior before. Reminded me of how a dog will splay out flat on tile to chill its body down on a warm day.

photo 4-3 copy 3Orange makes it mark among pale greenery, showing off in a concentrated saturation of color.

photo 2-3 copy 3The Saguaro are blooming with bright white flowers, still open even in the bright light of day.

photo 3-4 copy 4And here a tree sports yellow puff-balls, like dollops of paint splattered about by a rambunctious child.

photo 5 copy 2I nearly stumbled into a white Egret looking every bit as angry at being spotted as I delighted in sighting him. He stayed put for my photo, so I figure he must have had his eye on a juicy fish or he’d have flown off the minute I walked along.

photo 3-5 copy 2These brown cattails seem so foreign in a desert environment. But then, I have to remember I’m walking in a riparian area, with an abundant and consistent water supply. What a brilliant and delightful way to reclaim water and refill an aquifer.

photo-23 copy 3Green, of course, plays a dominate role along my entire route. Thank goodness for that. I’m not sure what I’d do without green growing things in my world.

photo 1-4 copy 6I didn’t expect to see blue, except for the sky, while on my walk. Blue flowers just don’t occur very often. But then, wandering down to the water’s edge, two fluorescent blue dragonflies chased each other across the water’s surface. Not much bigger than an inch in length, a photo of them wasn’t a realistic possibility. But, I did capture the scene where they played among the reeds and rocks and water.

Every color I could hope for showed up today as I walked. I’d call that a promising start to my day, wouldn’t you?


“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” ~ e.e. cummings

Categories: Nature, Outdoors, phoenix | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Simple Solution in a Latin Phrase

I ran across a most interesting Latin phrase yesterday.

Solvitur ambulando: “it is solved by walking.”

Stumbling on that phrase coincided with conversations I’d had with two different people hours and miles apart. All three converged into a kind of signpost toward an answer.

photo 5 copy“Exercise isn’t always the answer. Sometimes it’s rest. But I can think of few situations that wouldn’t be improved by a nice walk outside.” ~Kettie Olsen

photo 4-3 copy 2“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

photo 1-4 copy 4“If you seek creative ideas go walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.” ~ Raymond I. Myers

If you can’t find me, I’m probably out walking.

Categories: Exercise, Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Target Practice for Birds

Lovely shade tree with potential messes abounding.

Lovely shade tree with potential messes abounding.

Bird droppings! One of the hazards of a lovely shade tree that covers half of your driveway.  Installing a bird bath with daily fresh water probably adds to the number of birds that visit my yard and tree and consequently, my red vehicle. I know, I know, six months ago I had cleared my garage enough to park my little truck inside it. But we got a different car and MSH (and, yes, I) have once again helped fill up most of the garage, this time with an ancient couch we recently replaced with a newish one.

Looks like a fierce specimen, yes?

Looks like a fierce specimen, yes?

As I was hosing off some bird deposits from my car today, the spray ricocheted off the windshield and gave the cactus a pretty heavy pelting. A small bird head popped up among the spines and gave me the evil yellow eye. Clearly he or she meant to indicate ‘I’m an idiot getting the nest and resulting eggs inside wet and could I move on to doing some other chore.’

Apologizing to the bird, I aimed my hose a different direction. I did my best to avoid disturbing the cactus and said nesting critter while finishing my little chore. After polishing up the windows of the car,  I explored a bit to see if I could get a good view of the nest. On closer approach the bird flew off to a tree two houses down and looked on. Old nests and new nests look the same to my untrained eye and that cactus apparently serves as a roost for many a bird, or it has at some time.

Not sure if this is the current nest or not.

Not sure if this is the current nest or not.

I want to know how they, the birds, manage to fly in and out of that prickly, spiky, spiny spot without getting impaled. Seems downright impossible if you ask me. Do they have special radar or something? Or does getting poked and pierced multiple times a day come with the job description?

Look how sharp those needles are! Ouch!

Look how sharp those needles are! Ouch!

I’m going to avoid sermonizing here. I’m not even going to mention the parenting parallels. No symbolism, nothing at all. I’m simply wondering how birds do it. I guess I could Google it, but that would take away some of the mystery and the magic of nature that I so adore.

Categories: Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Recipe for Spring

We didn’t get much of a winter around Phoenix this year. I think I covered plants to protect them from freezing one time. I’m not complaining. Flowers still bloom and in fact thrive from last fall’s plantings.

Today’s post is in homage to spring, or what few weeks we have left of it here. It’s not long before the heat locksteps itself into its summer encampment. So I’m reveling in what I can.

If you’re still cabin-bound with snow and ice and freezing temps, maybe this can give you hope of things to come.

Here’s this year’s version of my recipe for Spring.

To one small plot of ground add the following:

photo 2-2 copy 8

Fresh jalapeno’s

Fresh jalapeno’s,

Cilantro

Cilantro

Cilantro

Tomato plants. (These have some petunias nearby for a dash of color and interest.)

Tomato plants. (These have some petunias nearby for a dash of color and interest.)

Tomato plants

Basil, comes in handy for more recipes than this one.

Basil, comes in handy for more recipes than this one.

And don’t forget Basil

I used Romaine, but any will do.

I used Romaine, but any will do.

Newborn tiny lettuces, which hopefully grow quickly before the heat makes them bolt could liven up the flavor of your spring.

Newborn flowers, also known as seedlings if you forget what kind you planted there.

Newborn flowers, also known as seedlings if you forget what kind you planted there.

Add some newborn flowers of various types. (Hopefully, unlike me, you mark which kind you planted where so you know what they are when they sprout.)

Time, patience, kindness, love, they're interchangeable, really.

Time, patience, kindness, love, they’re interchangeable, really.

Mix well and water often and gently.

Bake for a little bit of time and with some patience thrown in for good measure.

Grapefruit, still a few unpicked on the tree, and  their blossoms, bring a particular sweetness to this recipe.

Grapefruit, still a few unpicked on the tree, and their blossoms, bring a particular sweetness to this recipe.

Top off with some fragrance as well, like grapefruit blossoms, which in the evening become particularly intoxicating on the cool air.

photo 4-2 copy 5

Serve on a platter of surprising wildflowers, this pink one showed up among the yellows and oranges, all by itself and makes a sweet addition.

Gnome 1

Gnome 1

What garden is complete without a gnome?

Gnome 2 (they won't tell me their names)

Gnome 2 (they won’t tell me their names)

I added two as a nice garnish.

Bird. This one's pretty quiet.

Bird. This one’s pretty quiet.

Although real birds will visit, I also garnish with a little bird of my own.

Some new leaves on a tree add a nice touch.

Some new leaves on a tree add a nice touch.

Serve alongside anything else you might want to add: new leaves, penstemon, or even a bird bath.

Penstemon comes in many colors, choose your favorite.

Penstemon comes in many colors, choose your favorite.

I think you’ll enjoy this recipe, or any variation you decide to make of it.

Note the bird bath in the corner, attracts birds and toddlers alike.

A bird bath attracts birds and toddlers alike.

You can never go wrong with Spring. It’s fresh, lively, invigorating, and full of hope.

Dig in and enjoy as soon you can!

Categories: Gardening, Hope, Nature, Outdoors, phoenix | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rural Suburban Surprise

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful to walk less than a mile from my home and find a bit of country life.

photo 3-2 copy 4

These guys look like mischief just waiting to happen, don’t they?

I’m not kidding. There are little “county islands” that haven’t been incorporated into our town that still boast acre lots, with quite the variety of farm animals. Some Clydesdales hang out for part of the year across the sidewalk from the Riparian Preserve. A small flock of emus and a steer or three wander a two acre corner lot. Of course that one also backs up to a major intersection of power lines where you can hear the buzz of electricity overhead. Still, the cattle moo with all the gusto of country cows, and the roosters still encourage the sun to hurry up and get on with things.

photo 2-1 copy 10

I couldn’t even begin to tell you what breed of rooster this guy is.

On a recent walk we spent a few minutes watching a determined rooster dig for grubs. Oddly mesmerizing and fascinating if you’ve never seen it before. A few goats also joined in the entourage thinking maybe we’d brought them something to eat. Sadly we hadn’t. And a tiny Shetland pony nuzzled up to the fence looking for a bit of love and a nibble.

I felt transported for those few brief moments, leaning against the bars of the fence. Soaking in the pastoral wonders led me to wishing I had an acre lot of my own.

You’d never suspect it driving the streets of our little town now, but when we first moved here seventeen years ago, I often spotted a fox or coyote loping across a field as I drove my two oldest to high school. Seeing huge jackrabbits almost two feet tall wasn’t unusual. Smelling a dairy farm came with the territory of living here.

photo 1 copy 10

What a sweetie!

Now those things are rarities. The building boom ten years ago tripled the size of our town and pushed most of the rural life further into the desert.

Happily, several weeks ago we did see a coyote run through the park across the street. I imagine he’s found an easy to reach hen-house nearby and has made a few raids. Poor lost little guy. It’s not that difficult for most wildlife to follow the canal roads from the mountains down into the valley where the pickings seem abundant and unaware. I hope they don’t get caught.

I’m a lucky woman to find such variety in close proximity to my home. I like to think there’s still a bit of wild in the wild west where I live. Thankfully, I’m finding evidence of that every time I venture out.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Outdoors, phoenix | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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