Flora and fauna
portrait of nature’s balance
Flora and fauna
portrait of nature’s balance
I’m brainstorming and jotting notes for a new middle-grade novel, and sometimes feel slightly overwhelmed by the possibilities for this story. Is it this? Or that? Here or there? There’s so much to consider.
This photo of me feels like the perfect image for this stage in the process and I’m posting it here as a reminder to myself: infinite possibilities are a gift.
May I continue enjoying the creative journey as much as I did that wonderful hike. May I continue embracing the infinite landscape of my creative mind.
Nature will bear the closest inspection.
She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf,
and take an insect view of its plain. ~ Henry David Thoreau
Our bloom is gone. We are the fruit thereof. ~ Wallace Stevens
Hardy little plants
in hostile environment
Trees go wandering forth in all directions with every wind,
going and coming like ourselves,
traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day,
and through space heaven knows how fast and far! ~ John Muir
Today I dipped my feet in this cool, cool stream.
I’m calling the day a WIN.
Yesterday we hiked with our elder son, Wildebeest. It was pretty warm and we opted to cut the hike short on Emma’s behalf because despite the bowls of water we gave her throughout and the handful of treats, she still made a beeline for every patch of shade where she’d pant accusingly until we got her up and moving again.
Still and all, it was a wonderful hike. It’s always good to spend time with Wildebeest and was especially nice seeing him in his natural habitat. A happy son makes for a happy mother.
This is Emma at our campsite during last month’s camping trip. We had a jolly time hiking, birding, staring into the campfire, and then sleeping in the tent as elk bugled in the near distance and moose browsed in the immediate vicinity (as in, a few yards from our tent). I can’t wait to go again. But we can’t pack up for our next adventure until I finish some writing projects, so I’m putting Emma here as a reminder of the fun ahead of us next week.
Today I got out of bed at 5:50 a.m. and did some stretching before heading out to meet friend and critique partner Laura Perdew for a hike in Centennial Cone Park. According to my Garmin, we hiked 8.59 miles. The GPS didn’t clock our discussion, but it included conversation about writing, children, spouses, writing, families of origin, wildflowers, proper pronunciation of “penstemon” (turns out we’re both correct), writing, trailrunning, and mountain bikers. Here’s a sampling of the natural glory we witnessed along the way:
So much of our current reality causes me outrage, fear, and anxiety. It’s gotten so that I struggle with getting out of bed in the morning. But today I’m grateful for a new writing project that brings me happiness.
I’m always at my best when fully immersed in a project, especially when the subject matter involves the glories of our natural world, and so this dapper lizard feels like the perfect guide for today’s work.
We just got back from two days camping in the mountains. Yesterday we hiked about seven miles which is a long trek for a short-legged doggo. We gave Emma water throughout the hike and that definitely helped keep her going. But the best remedy was the snow we came across here and there. She rejoiced in this particular patch.
A cool pup is a happy pup.
This afternoon Zippy and I hiked the Greenhouse Trail in the Chiricahua Mountains. The guide trail notes said the mountain hike was also good for birding, so off we went to scratch our two itches. As we hiked along Greenhouse Creek we heard many bird songs and each time we’d raise our binoculars to scan for the source, hoping to identify one of the over 300 bird species in the region. As one after another (usually brown) bird flitted in and out of our sight before we could make a positive identification, I remembered the words of a birder friend from Anchorage. Anne once said to me, “You’re more of a ducker than a birder.”
And she was right. I do pretty well with the larger, more sedate feathered creatures. Ducks, shore birds, and wading birds are my comfort zone. They give me time to make identifications. Song birds in a forest are much harder for me to ID and today my frustration level went way the hell up.
I don’t know a whole lot of bird songs (shout-out to Mourning Doves and Spotted Towhees for their easily identifiable songs!) and I’m crap with our new guide book, Birds of Southeastern Arizona, because it’s grouped by type rather than by color. Hence my frustration and feelings of inadequacy.
As Zippy and I sat on a log next to the creek (because we’d lost the trail, which is a whole other story), he hoped aloud for birds to come up to us with signs. As in, “Hello, I’m a Brown Creeper” or “Hey, check me out. I’m a Brewer’s Sparrow.”
I replied, “We need primary color birds. Like a Vermilion Flycatcher. We for sure could ID the hell out of that bird.” (Because, in case you didn’t already guess, that bird is primarily bright red.)
Guess what happened a couple minutes after my primary colors plea? A bird flew overhead and into a tree right in front of us. Without any muss or fuss, Zippy and I identified a Western Tanager which looks like this:
Don’t worry, we’re not feeling too full of ourselves. While we did manage the identification, this isn’t exactly a great photo. Still, I wanted to celebrate the fact that once in a while the universe does listen and respond accordingly.
Zippy and I’ve been traveling since Sunday. We camped at the Valley of Fires Recreation Area In New Mexico that night and yesterday afternoon arrived at Cave Creek Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains of Portal, Arizona:
The photo doesn’t do justice to the Cathedral Vista. It’s a truly stunning view as you emerge from wooded trail out into the open. And on the way back to where we’re
staying we located this Whiskered Screech-Owl in a sycamore tree:
Our hosts had told us where to find the feathered friend. Apparently,
the owl hangs out there all the time, watching the comings and goings in
And now we’re off for more adventures!
And yet, when I came across this forgotten selfie on my phone I immediately fell in love with it. Because the photo took me back to where it was taken: on our Rustler’s Gulch hike in Crested Butte last July. Zippy and I’d climbed the trail at the end of the valley to sit on a huge outcropping to eat our lunch. Everywhere we looked was absolutely glorious. Up, down, side to side. Blue sky, fluffy clouds, wildflowers, stream, trees, mountains. Nature at her very best.
But this selfie isn’t just a reminder of the natural splendor we witnessed on that hike. Our expressions are also documentation of how very happy Zippy and I were that day. The poorly framed image and those nostrils only add to the good memories.