One beautiful form to another

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature is ever at work building and pulling down,
creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing,
allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion,
chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.
~ John Muir

Dancing with the stars

We’re told to reach for the stars, but sometimes they’re not above us. Sometimes those stars are next to the trail, close enough to touch.

And sometimes if we keep very, very still we  might also catch a glimpse of a fairy dancing among the stars.

Here’s wishing for a magical Monday . . .

 

Thankful Thursday

Horse Gulch. Durango, CO.

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.

Emma as motivator

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.

Dose of nature + friendship

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a beautiful day and I’m so grateful for the dose of nature + friendship. Thank you, Laura, for being my hiking buddy and generous writing partner. You’re the best.

For your viewing pleasure

Because it’s Monday and there’s so much awful, rage-inducing stuff going on in the world, I’m offering Emma Jean-Jean, in all her splashy glory, for your viewing pleasure. I hope her wet, whiskered face brings a smile and/or relief from the heat.

Take care of yourselves.

Thankful Thursday: the natural world

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.

Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard. Greenhouse Trail, Cave Creek Canyon. May 14, 2019

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.

Fantasy of nature

I’m always astonished by a forest. It makes me realise that the fantasy of nature is much larger than my own fantasy. I still have things to learn. ~ Gunter Grass

Thankful Thursday: Snow for a hot pup!

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.

Today the universe answered my call

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.

Exploring the Chiricahua Mountains

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:

I had to stop and take this photo when we reached the entrance to the canyon.

We got settled in and then did a short hike. We heard some birds but didn’t see any.
Lots of interesting flora, though:

This morning we got up early for a short hike and on the drive there,
saw a Wild Turkey. This was our hiking destination:

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:

Photo by Zippy.

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
the canyon.

And now we’re off for more adventures!

Sunday Confessional: selfies aren’t my forte

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.