Posts Tagged With: Autumn

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…Autumn?

Woke to the sounds of rain this morning. Second only to the hush and muffle of snowfall, rain makes me want to put on my raincoat, grab an umbrella and get outside.

Rainy skies, golden trees, no people. Perfect.

Rainy skies, golden trees, no people. Perfect.

Given than I think of this place as my Riparian Preserve, I loved that the place appeared abandoned when I arrived. I didn’t cross paths with a single person until the last five minutes. A photographer with a tripod making his way toward some wonderful scenery to shoot seemed a bit put off by seeing another human, as was I. We successfully ignored the existence of each other and went our separate routes.

How can I possibly describe the scene today? The diffused light through low clouds muted and highlighted colors. Today’s cloud filtered light particularly played up the yellows and enhanced the grayish brown of everything else. Greens, of course, seemed greener, but golds sang out in the rain-light like a soprano in a choir.

Don’t take my words for it. They’re inadequate today. Stroll along with me, imagining the sound and feel of rain on your raincoat and the not particularly cold water seeping through to your wool socks.

Today's stand-in for the sun.

Today’s stand-in for the sun.

Here in the desert autumn isn’t. We don’t really get to experience that particular season. At best we usually get a hard freeze for a night or two in late December or January which turns the deciduous leaves dark brown and drops them to the ground a day later. Nothing pretty about that. But this year serves as a delicious exception. Lows in the high thirties and low forties have kissed the leaves and made them blush red or brighten to a golden hue.

Most of the water birds stayed quieter than usual today. I’m not sure what’s up with that. Why would rain shush them? The ducks stayed tucked in, beaks nestled under a wing while they sat or floated quietly. The night herons seemed more stoic than normal not flying off when I approached. Jumpy best describes a few of the shore birds, as if they don’t know how to behave when it rains. Not a hummingbird or yellow finch in sight, snuggled up inside their tight little nests, I’m sure.

At times the trail was more puddle than path, but I managed. No speed walking or jogging going on here. Just a slow meander. Sure my toes got wet as I knew they would so I’d put on wool socks and didn’t mind the damp at all.

I’m glad I ignored the to-do list this morning, threw on a hat over my sleep scruffy hair and spent an hour under rainy skies. Such moments happen rarely here and want savoring. Desert Autumn or Winter rains, whatever name it goes by suits me just fine.

The gold up close, seems a bit worn and ready to drop.

The gold up close, seems a bit worn and ready to drop.

~~~~~

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.” ~Roger Miller

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Categories: Nature, photographs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Pumpkin Spice Zombie Apocalypse

latte

Pumpkin spiced whipped cream.

There. I got your attention just by typing two words: Pumpkin Spice.

What a silly thing.

I feel like that person who pretends to throw a ball to a dog and laughs maniacally when the pup runs off after nothing.

Or worse, like the weather forecasters here in the Phoenix area who throw out these few words before a commercial break, “Is there rain in our forecast?” We get so excited when there’s even a ten percent chance of rain. Bump those odds up to fifty percent and we’re deliriously happy. Actual rain produces a state of nirvana and brainlessness causing people to drive into flooded washes.

So it is with Pumpkin Spice. Now that it’s September everyone goes gaga for the stuff.

Last week I could have gotten your attention with three words: Ice Bucket Challenge. But that was so last week or the week before. Now everyone’s just tired and morphing the thing to unrecognizable configurations. Cool though that it generated so much information and donations.

Maybe to take it up a notch and generate a bit more interest someone could do a Pumpkin Spice Ice Bucket Challenge. What do you say, Letterman? Kimmel? Fallon? Brangelina? POTUS?

I’ll send you a free Pumpkin Spice candle if you do. (You’ll just need to pay a small shipping and handling fee.) But totally worth it. Really.

It’s EVERYWHERE!! It’s like Invasion of the Body Snatchers only with pumpkins and spice. A quick search will result in pumpkin spice everything: donuts, pudding, cookies, cupcakes, peanuts, mousse, seltzer water, marshmallows, coffee creamer, brownies, cream cheese, Hershey’s kisses, smoothies, malted milk balls, syrup, potato chips, granola bars, ale, pancakes, Oreos, and yes, even (heaven help us) pumpkin spice butter. Butter? What has the world come to?

zombie pumpkins

Pumpkin Spice Zombie Apocalypse! Run!!!

How do we know it’s not a Zombie Apocalypse disguised as pumpkin spice?

Just as a side note, I’m also not a fan of the FALL SALE especially since the temperatures are still over 105 and no way in heck am I donning boots or a scarf for at least another three months. Maybe I’m just slightly bitter that I live where there are only two seasons,”broil” and “toast.”

I do kind of miss the autumn thing, but I try not to dwell on it. That’s why all this PUMPKIN SPICE stuff is driving me crazy, you can’t not see it, hear it, smell it, read about it.

Whatever happened to apple? Yes, Apple. I wrote about that last year and you can read it here if you want a more reasonable approach to alternate fall flavors and scents, such as Apple and Caramel perhaps.

To prove that I’m not a total pumpkin Grinch, for your reading and laughing pleasure, I’ll insert a pumpkin joke (which I found here if you want to look up more.)

One day two pumpkins, who were best friends, were walking together down the street. They stepped off the curb and a speeding car came around the corner and ran one of them over. The uninjured pumpkin called 911 and helped his injured friend as best he was able. The injured pumpkin was taken to emergency at the hospital and rushed into surgery. After a long and agonizing wait, the doctor finally appeared. He told the uninjured pumpkin, “I have good news, and I have bad news. The good news is that your friend is going to pull through. The bad news is that he’s going to be a vegetable for the rest of his life”.

I apologize.

Great pumpkin jokes don’t seem to exist. This was the best I could manage.

If I had a phenomenal pumpkin spice recipe I’d insert it here. But, alas, I have none. Feel free to submit yours in the comment section. I can’t promise I’ll do anything with it, but you never know.

Autumn leaves. (NOT pumpkin spiced)

Autumn leaves. (NOT pumpkin spiced)

I’m hoping to go camping some time next week, in the actual mountains to get a real taste of Autumn! Maybe, just maybe, a few leaves will have considered changing colors and I’ll snap some pictures or bring home a twig or two filled with autumn hues.

In the meantime, I’m trying to block out all things Pumpkin Spice and moving on with my life in spite of such niggling little things.

On the bright side, I won’t have to shovel snow in four months! Take that, Pumpkin Spice!

 

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

‘Swonderful

I captured some bits of nature this past month. Actually, I only managed to get photographs of those bits. The real thing took my breath away, time after time, and sadly, had stay behind.

photo-21 copy 8For instance, this lady bug that took a layover on my jeans as I sat lakeside. Crawled right on my finger, no hesitation, no worry. Then back to my jeans. The bright orange-red, the antennae, the black spots, vibrant and stunning in comparison to the azure water, the cerulean sky, the gray rock and sand.

photo-19 copy 3While hiking in the November forest, most of the trees bare for the coming snows, a few trees donned this delicate lacy moss. Reminded me of ice crystals, bright green and practically growing as I watched. Not sure I’ve ever seen a more lovely winter coat.

photo 2-2The waves at Lake Tahoe, one of the clearest I’ve ever seen, created this pattern in the beige sand, with a light dusting of almost black sand adding contrast. Incredible unique artwork.

photo 1-2But then I took a walk on the dock and saw this underfoot. Nearly the same waves duplicated in the wood that stands above the water. Nature duplicating nature?

photo-19 copy 13Trees never cease to surprise me. Frosty mornings, one after another, can strip most trees bare fairly quickly. And yet, here and there, bright colors hang on to their branches tenacious and brilliant. How many shades of orange can you see?

photo-18 copy 6Taking an alternate path down the mountain from the one we hiked up led to some backtracking, exploring and uncertainty. Fortunately it also led back, eventually, to somewhere close to where we started. Nature continued to surprise and delight along the way. Looking back where I’d been I captured this view, one that felt somehow like biting into a fresh peach. The juice of the moment running down my chin, the sweetness saturating all my senses.

If I ever get to doubting about the wonder and beauty of life, I simply need to slow down, look around and pay attention.

‘Swonderful!

 

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

Apple, Not Pumpkin, You Silly People You

We had our first outdoor shindig of the reasonable seasonable weather last night. Ah, everything you could wish for was going on. Well, almost. One daughter and her man were missing.

We had the grill throwing up three foot high flames, a bit of a puddle to splash in, music wafting onto the patio, a babe sleeping in someone’s arms, the smell of bread baking indoors and shrimp on the finally tamed barbie. Hugs, kisses, dancing, a board game, a couple napping, laughter, olive fingers and way too much food. And to top it all off, three choices of dessert, lemon bars, cream puffs, or, wait for it, wait for it, yes, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

You know I had to throw some pumpkin in the mix because it’s autumn and autumn apparently means pumpkin, although I’m not quite sure why. Probably because whoever grows and markets pumpkin has a massive campaign blitz going from here to Antarctica to sell the darn stuff or else. There’s stuff out there that should never include the word or texture of pumpkin. Fudge, hot chocolate, cider, soup.

Ew. Just don’t!

Please people, lets exercise a little reason out there!!

To me apple is the fruit o’ the season. Apple crisp with it’s cinnamon and nutmeg crunchy topping with a little ice-cream melting on the side says Autumn like nothing else. Don’t forget apple pie and apple cider and, yes, apple fritters. And the creme de la creme, carmel apples.

That shiny golden brown chewiness on a stick beckons teeth and lips and gums to sink in as you become one with drippy stickiness. Can’t you just feel your chin collecting that sugary glue covered sensation.

I worry some about my dental work getting destroyed by the succulence and power of the lowly carmel apple. And because of that worry I came up with a highly acceptable alternative.

This is kind of a recipe, which I don’t generally do, so you might want to pay attention at this point.

(This point.)

Yes, this is where you really need to pay attention. Thank you.

  1. In a tiny glass bowl place five unwrapped Brach’s caramels.
  2. Add two teaspoons of water.
  3. Nuke in the microwave for thirty seconds. Stir with a fork. If not melted all the way, nuke again for thirty more seconds.
  4. If this mixture isn’t all creamy and delectable by now you’ve probably overcooked it. So sad. Although microwaves can be finicky and maybe you’ve undercooked it, but not likely. Punt. Or try again. I guess.
  5. Cut up one apple, which variety is purely your choice.. I prefer using one of the apple corer/slicer things <== (highly technical name of the device.) You can use a paring knife to cut slices as well. The thinner the better but not too thin. If you make this often enough you’ll get the right ratio eventually.
  6. Find a cozy, secluded spot and dip your apple slices into your melted carmel mixture. Enjoy every bite without fear of losing your fillings, molars or any other teeth parts. And no sticky chin!

There you have it. The perfect personal autumn treat. The quintessential dessert improved and perfected. Who knew such things were possible?

*No pumpkins were harmed in the making of this blog post.

**Now apples being harmed, that might be a different story.

Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Open the Windows

My flowers are loving the cooler weather, and so am I.

My flowers are loving the cooler weather, and so am I.

Guess what?

It’s gardening season!!! Happy dance, happy dance, happy dance!

Yessirreebob! In the desert climate of Arizona, it’s time to put those seeds in the ground. I get tingly all over just thinking about it.

Tingly might be overstating things a little.

Who wouldn't rather spend time with this beauty than a pile of laundry?

Who wouldn’t rather spend time with this beauty than a pile of laundry?

There’s just something about getting my hands in the soil, helping Mother Nature with her tasks, watching the little nothings of seeds become shiny orange carrots, rich red beets, curly green spinach. Sure, I admit that it’s work, but anticipatory work. Work with an outcome you can see and that lasts. It’s nothing like doing dishes or laundry or mopping or any other sort of indoor chore that already needs  redoing within hours, if not minutes after finishing.

I’d almost always rather be outside than inside. If I were rich I’d pay a glorious someone big bucks to keep the housework under control so I could frolic in the garden, mow the grass, plant bushes, trim trees, map out square foot plots of wonder and green stuff. I’d eat outside every meal I could, with a big shady umbrella for day time and candlelight in the evening.

Oh wait. I could do part of that now, without a house helper. Nothing’s stopping me from taking breakfast out to the patio table and breathing in the (finally) cool morning air of fall.

Surely I can ignore a few chores indoors and let my feet take me outside more often, to clean up the summer’s detritus and prep a spot for some waiting fall plantings.

Patio lights

Patio lights! (Photo credit: life is good (pete))

And evenings, well, sure, they’re a bit busy for me, but still, I could light a candle or two out back and sit in a lawn chair, look up at the stars, breath out the days dusty worries and breath in some oxygen freshly exhaled from the nearby orange tree. Or I could head out front to the porch swing and watch the world wander past at the park, catch a glimpse of a hummingbird getting its last sip from the feeder before settling in for the night.

I could probably even read a chapter or two by candlelight, or patio light if I thought about it.

It’s that priceless time of year in the desert with only good things to anticipate and summer’s heat a fading memory. It’s open window season, music wafting out into the yard season, planting hope season.

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

The Persuasion of a Cool Breeze

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful to have stepped outside two nights ago and felt actual cool air. I know in most parts of the world that’s a normal occurrence. In the Phoenix area it only happens for about five months of the year. After the summer’s onslaught of daily blast-furnace heat followed by evenings of sweltering baking, a cool breeze in the evening amazes and soothes.

Flower sad

(Photo credit: @Doug88888)

When the cooler weather arrives, a morning walk could happen without a bottle of water as a basic survival tool. The cobwebs get cleared off the front porch swing and long evening chats can happen again.

There’s a lighter quality to the oxygen in the air, a weight of oppression lifting. Hope returns that once again the park will fill up with people playing  games of capture the flag, soccer practices, tag, frisbee and lacrosse.

In a few days the air will begin to fill with the October smells of overseeding for winter lawns. Steer manure is the seed cover of choice around the valley. Things smell like a million head cattle drive moving  through for a few weeks. But after a brief spell of that malodorous scent on the breeze, grasses will green up in a riot of brilliant color. Flowers will burst out in a song of relief. Kids break out of their air-conditioned confines and populate the neighborhoods once more.

The idea of a walk in the moonlight no longer oppresses but instead sounds delightful and romantic.

With cooler air that blue hue in the sky just feels lovely instead of boring and repetitive.

To be honest with you, a few weeks ago I thought about moving. The idea of leaving this wretched heat played with my heartstrings in spite of the people attached to them. Now that the coolness, at least evening coolness, has arrived, I think I can stay.

English: Fishhook Barrel cactus (Ferocactus wi...

I’m pretty sure, in spite of the portent of milder weather and loveliness ahead, that deserts weren’t intended for human habitation. And yet, we as a species continue to insist on living  in them. Why do you think that is?

Is it like the mountain thing? We climb it because it’s there? We live here because we can? Do we always have to pick up the gauntlet when it’s thrown down at our feet? Could we just pick something in-between-ish for a change?

Or is that giving in to something, fence-sitting somehow?

I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m still not sure why I’m here after all these years later. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I’ve been here. Mostly. What an incredible sixteen year ride it’s been.

Still I wonder how I’ve managed to get through that many summers. And why I continue to stay.

If I had the choice would I go?

Maybe.

Depends on if the breeze blowing through my cropped hair was a warm one or a cool one.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Different Kind of Air Freshener

The atmosphere is heavy with moisture this morning.  To say it’s humid would probably be stretching things a bit.  There is certainly a difference from the usual overly long lingering summer heat we’ve had until now.  The sky is almost completely overcast, the sun trying to break through the clouds, but not having much success.  It’s glorious!

The bedroom communities of Phoenix are hotbeds of sameness, consistency and boredom.  Every third house in a subdivision matches; every landscape holds the same selection of trees, bushes, and rocks.  There’s some small variety, a few “county islands” where the yards are bigger, the houses unique, the sidewalks missing.

This suburban sameness mirrors the weather here.  Every third day, every second day, heck, every day is identical to the others, sunny, hot, blue skies, sunny, hot, blue skies. Oh sure, we have our monsoon season, of towering dust clouds roiling like something out of a scorpion laced movie, but those are rare and out of the norm.

Any change in weather from the trifecta of sun, heat and blue is a welcome change.  So the clouds moving in are all but getting a party thrown in their favor.  “Welcome Back Rain!” our signs taped to the garage door would say.  “We’ve missed you!!  Heart, heart, heart, heart, heart. “

Washing my car was a kind of rain dance a few years ago.  Spend the time to do a nice thorough water and soap in a bucket hand washing in the driveway, buff out the spots, shine the side view mirrors and sure enough there’d be what we call around here, “spit rain.”  Just enough water would drop out of a nearly cloudless sky, mixing with the dust in the air, to create little muddy spots on the car windshield and mess up that shine.

Clouds battling it out with the sun.

Today, however, looks promising.  There’s a wet smell to the air and the clouds seem to be winning out in the battle over the sky.

So in homage to the tentative onset of autumn in the desert, my doors and windows open wide today, exchanging stale indoor air for fresh, moisture-laden air.  Did I suggest it might be fall like weather today?  Oops!  I didn’t mean to let that slip out.   I’m hesitant to say such things for fear of jinxing it.

Just now, while writing, I heard this weird sound.  A wagon on the sidewalk?  Someone going by with a walker to help them shuffle along? The parakeets tearing up the newspaper in their cage?  A cat clawing at the screen door?  Something seriously wrong with the refrigerator motor? Crackle, crunch, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.  Thought I better investigate.  Lo and behold, it’s raindrops hitting the sidewalk, the patio furniture, the rooftop, the leaves on the trees!  Five minutes of a smattering tease of rain.

I’ll take it.  Any rain, even amounts not measurable in a rain gauge are welcome.  (Insert a sigh saved up since April.) What that infinitesimal bit of moisture in the air adds to my day also can’t be measured.  Wet sidewalk scent should be a choice on the air freshener aisle.  Why isn’t it?

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

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