Posts Tagged With: walking

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

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

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.

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Bridges on the Path

Another photo from a shared walk with my cousin last year.  A month later I actually crossed this bridge and took the less traveled rocky ledge of a path.  So glad I did.

bridge over Queen Creek“The most precipitous chapter of life always begins before we quite know it is under way.”

-Morrie Morgan, from Ivan Doig‘s “Work Song

Funny how life doesn’t give us any road signs, warnings, ominous theme music, or any other clues that some big change is waiting around the corner. Life is not like a movie at all. It’s simply putting one foot in front of the other, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.

Sometimes we have a choice to take one path or another, never knowing the outcome of what the other path might have brought us to.  That’s all probably for the best.

I am glad my path has taken me here to where I am right now. What bridges lay ahead of me? Don’t think I want to know.  Whatever maps I might create or use to plan the road ahead will be rendered useless by life’s fickle sense of humor, fate’s sense of irony and God’s will for me.

I breath in. I breath out. I enjoy what I can and love as much as possible. I give my best.

I keep walking.

Enjoy your journey.

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

Singing in the Rain

Goutte d'eau.

Goutte d’eau. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three days of  rain!  Yes, we’ve had rain in abundance.  Not the quick blast from a passing cloud that pounds the ground with too much water then runs off the desert’s hard surface, but a slow soaking, drizzly mist, with an occasional extra burst of water washing down the sky.

Walking at the Riparian in the rain gives the place an entirely different spin.

I’ve been here literally hundreds of times.  I’ve walked the same paths, sat on the same benches, paused at the same spots, turned left at the same tree.

Today is different.

Today rain has changed everything.

Instead of hearing the crunch of gravel under every footfall, I hear the plash and patter of drops through the leaves, a quiet drumming on the water’s surface.

Today the greens are more alive and vibrant with a sheen of moisture and a kind of renewed energy of life.

Today the flower buds on the bushes glow with a difference in the light.  This isn’t the usual direct sun, but a diaphanous cloud-filtered light that highlights colors more.

There’s a bush that looks as if it’s been hung with pearls.  The raindrops have gathered on the ends of each branch on a small, solid puff-ball, giving the illusion of an ice droplet or a crystallized grain of sand.  Nature’s magic at it’s best.

The ducks wander the paths today, not content to stay in their ponds.  A turtle plods across a grassy patch and pushes its way into the thick, wet undergrowth.

Swallows dip, soar, swoop, circle, and skim the water’s surface, dancing an intricate and ancient rhythm.

The air is humid with the verdant scent of growth and hope.

I feel newly washed after three days of these gifts from the clouds. Almost anything is possible.  Or so it seems.

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

Take a Walk With Me

The most luxurious thing I can think of to do today would be to have a whole day to myself.  I’d go for a long morning walk.  I’d clean the house.  I’d sit with a hardbound book and immerse myself in its pages, emerging hours later dripping with the story, washed new by the author’s words.

It’s been a while since I’ve done any of those things.

Must be time to give in, if I’m fantasizing about them.

It’s not likely I’ll have a day to myself, not with everyone’s schedule around here.  But the long walk, I could manage that.  Early mornings have a chill to them, but I could bundle up, layer on a few sweaters, put on some gloves, wrap a scarf and throw on a hat, if I can find one.  Then off I’d go to my favorite retreat.

Our little “town” had the foresight a few years back to create some open spaces.  The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is one of these places.  The large windowed library nestles into one corner of its 110 acres, with a cement skirted duck pond and sidewalk.  Perfect for parents with strollers and tots, or people with wheelchairs,walkers or canes, it serves as a buffer zone of the “wilder” parts of the park. It’s nicely lit in the evening if a couple feels inclined to walk and talk. There’s always an urban fisherman or two there, almost any time of the day or year. They even added an observatory a few years ago.

My favorite area there is away from the concrete and crowds.   Further in, nestled among trees and all sorts of green growing things, is meandering paths that skirt seven different ponds.  The developers designed the entire area to refill and recharge the city  acquifer.  As reclaimed water is pumped into the ponds it filters into the ground and recycles.  It’s a pretty smart idea.

The bonus is that the area has become a haven for birds of all kinds. Herons, hummingbirds, geese, lovebirds, terns, owls, hawks, ducks are just a few of the over 150 species found there.  As a result, photographers, birdwatchers, and nature lovers also frequent the area.

Wandering the trails a person could walk almost four and a half miles. In years past I’ve spent considerable time there and become a little possessive of the area.  There was a group of seven geese that I chatted with daily, even if they were a bit grouchy with me. I’ve lost touch with them and miss that daily interaction.

I feel lucky to have such a haven in the desert. A walk there fills and recharges my own waning resources. Enough of this writing thing. I’m going for a walk.  I’ll see ya later.

Categories: Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why the People at the Grocery Store Were So Friendly, and Other Answers

Following the wise saying that says, “When you can’t sleep, write,” (which I just made up three minutes ago) I am now writing at 1:15 a.m.  If you’ve read my “Night Owl, Early Bird” post you’d remember that I’m definitely a morning person.  My brain engages and starts humming just before the last stars wink out.  That’s about five hours from now.  Fair warning, with middle of the night posts, no telling what will happen. (Three posts in one, perhaps?)

THE GROCERY STORE FRIENDLIES

Shopping Carts

Shopping Carts (Photo credit: Universal Pops)

Despising grocery shopping, I try to get the task done when the fewest number of people will be clogging the aisles and slowing down the process. That would be, you guessed it, early in the morning.  I try to show up presentable, not in PJ’s, not in sweaty gym clothes, not in my dirt encrusted grass stained gardening garb.  I clean up, I put on some lip gloss, I brush my hair.  I even bring a list. In, out, done. No debating over the produce. no loitering near the dairy.

Most people pretend extreme interest in some label, and avoid eye contact, especially in the morning.(Probably because they are wearing PJ’s or sweaty gym clothes or haven’t combed their hair.) Just sayin’.

One morning in particular I noticed that the few people I did see in the nearly deserted grocery store appeared very cheery. They smiled at me. Smiles all around.  A store full of morning people?!? What are the odds, I thought.  Maybe I had a glow about me.  Maybe the stars aligned just right.  Maybe the music playing over the intercom struck a happy chord in the lot of them.

Even the usually surly cashier, whose line I tried to avoid, was friendly and smiled at me. Weird and weirder.  I was going to get on the internet and figure out what cosmic occurrence might be in play to explain such unexpected pleasantness.

Putting my bags into the back seat of the car I bumped my head on the top of the door opening.  Not my head exactly.  The blow felt cushioned by something.

Hair rollers

Hair rollers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I reached up to console my noggin.  What did I find but a hair roller still tucked in on top of my head.  The very same velcro hair roller my own hands had rolled in to poof up the flat spot in my otherwise nicely coiffed hair. I had told myself not to forget to take it out before I left, then went off to find my keys.  And forgot about it.

All those friendly smiles?  Restrained laughter.

Glad I could bring some cheer into someone’s day.  In this case, many someones.

ON YOUR LEFT

My cousin reintroduced me to bicycling in Denver a couple of years back.  It was my first time on a road bike in a few years. She taught me some basic ideas, like how to shift, how to brake, basic biking etiquette.  We even discussed ahead of time who takes the lead and which of us drops behind  into single file when other bikers are on the path coming towards us or passing us from behind.  I learned the term “on the left” meant that another biker was coming up from behind and was going to pass on the left.  On hearing “on the left” the correct thing to do is to move to the right so they have room pass on the left.

We had a great ride that day. (I think I just found another blog post topic for the near future.) But I digress.

The point I meant to make was that I learned a bit of biking jargon and etiquette and gained some confidence in the sport of bicycling. On returning home I started riding my clunky mountain bike on our flat desert trails. I started using the term “on the left” and felt like a real biker.  When I didn’t ride, but went walking instead, I quickly moved over when a biker chirped, “on your left!”  I felt I had learned to share the trail, or the sidewalk, quite amicably.  I hardly had to hear more than the word “on” from behind and I’d start moving to the right to make room.

Biker

Not the actual biker…

Imagine my surprise (is that a cliché? note to self, find out!)  Sorry.  Imagine my surprise when, this very morning, I mean yesterday morning, since it’s now almost 2 a.m. the day after. Sorry again.

Imagine my surprise, as I’m out for my morning walk, when I hear a biker holler, “on your right” and I automatically move to the right but then, mid step, realize that I just moved into the biker’s path.  I was certain I’d be mowed over, or at the very least see a biker go flying past as he rocketed over the front of his handlebars.   I actually started to curl up and brace myself for impact.  Luckily the biker swerved or braked or had guardian angels, or all three.  No one was worse for the experience.

I’m sure the bicyclist swore under his breath as he rode off down the path.  Maybe his life had flashed before his eyes.  I hope it was a happy one if it did.  His adrenaline was probably ramped up a bit, don’t you think?  Mine was.

Anyway, if you talk to anyone who tells you about this dumb woman out for a walk who jumped into his path when he gave fair warning, you’ve now heard my side of the story.

Fireworks

Spicy Zingers (or Fireworks)

CHINESE-MEXICAN FUSION

Dinner out with friends tonight  (last night? whatever) at a new place was mind-blowing.  Confusion ruled my taste buds but what happy taste buds!

Who thinks of these things?  A quesadilla with a ginger-sauced chicken and real cheese?  Oh my sweet Susanna!!  Dip it in the salsa/hoisin, or was it plum sauce/mole, and the neural pathways don’t know what to make of it all.  Refried black beans? A work and a wonder of magnificence!!  Finished off the meal with a crispy-edged, soft-middled, cinnamon snicker doodle cookie and the evening was taste bud nirvana.

That might explain the tiny taste of insomnia going on here.  Too many competing spicy sensations zinging around in my head.  Oh, but it was worth it.

I hope you’re smiling!  I am.

Categories: Exercise, Food, Humor | Tags: , , , | 14 Comments

Magic in the Morning Air

It’s still dark, still practically night, at 4:50 when I leave my house to go walking. “She must be out of her mind,” you’re thinking. Don’t lie. I can hear you. “Who wakes up that early to go walking?” that’s what you’re thinking. “Crazy people, that’s who.”

“People from Central Arizona,” would be my reply. Yes, I am a bit crazy, that’s completely true. But, more important in this conversation is that I live in the greater Phoenix area. The DESERT. That is why I’m awake so ridiculously early and why I am walking in the dark. No offense to my fellow desert rats, I mean Valley of the Sun dwellers, but we all must be crazy to live here.

If you’d ever lived here, or do live here, an explanation for nearly night/early morning walks would not be necessary. But then most people are fortunate not to live in the desert so let me be more concise.

It’s flipping hot here in the desert, even at night, especially during our eternal summer. It cools down about 15 degrees at night if we’re lucky. So it’s 85 or 90 degrees when I leave in the dark to walk. Imagine what happens when that rolling ball of hydrogen surges over the protective horizon and starts blasting down laser rays of heat across the already baked, seared, sandblasted landscape of the desert floor.

We celebrate sunsets here in Arizona. Look at our flag, for crying out loud, it’s a sunset. We cheer when the sun goes away for the day. It’s a sign that we survived another blast furnace day.

Sunrises are nice during our six months of (cough) winter. But that’s another story. I digress.

I’m walking. Meeting my walking partner. Had I mentioned that? There’s an important detail. I don’t walk alone in the dark. No way.

I meet my walking partner where our two neighborhoods intersect.

The plants hover overhead. It’s so dark it could be midnight.

So we walk. We get sweaty even in the dark.

We talk.

We vent.

We laugh.

We cry.

We explain.

We justify.

We make sense of our lives, at least temporarily, as our feet move. Once we get home, reality sets in, but that, too, is another story.

We weave this beautiful, sad, heart wrenching tapestry in the air above us. I can almost see our words above us, intertwining, circling. Our conversation is an amazing work of art and heart. There are shades of blue mostly. That’s to be expected. But there are some brilliant greens looping through, like little vines. And some yellows burst in the air above that, like little fireworks. For some reason there hasn’t been much red. Lavender blossoms emerge in the conversational picture above us, their fragrance almost discernible.

It’s a priceless work of art we weave with our talk as we move along the path.

Reluctantly ending our walk, more reluctantly ending our conversation, we air hug. We’re both too sweaty for a real one.

The talking tapestry we created does this swirling dance, divides into two parts. One half follows her and the other half chases after me.

By then the sun is undeniably up for the day. A combination of heat, sore muscles and the solitude conspires to turn the dancing conversational colors in the air to a dust that settles in my hair and on my shoulders. The walk has worked its magic. I feel a bit more whole, a little bit more able to cope with reality. I am a little more what I need to be for the day ahead.

It’s worth the loss of sleep.

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

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