Archive for the ‘Journeys’ Category

Scott’s Oriole — Wikimedia photo

A Colorful Walk

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

Walking my canine companion Scamp early every morning is both a chore and a pleasure. Living in a third-floor apartment with no yard means it’s something that must be daily done – and at the first glimpse of dawn when I’m awakened by a dog sticking his cold nose in my face. If that doesn’t work, Scamp drapes his 40-pound body on top of mine and begins to whine.

You can read more about Maggie and her adventures with her mistress in Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

I have no choice but to get up, throw on some clothes and get his leash. Every morning I do this, I think of my former dog Maggie. She, as anyone who knew her would tell you, was a spoiled brat, but she liked to sleep in and so I got to wake up at my leisure not hers.

But by the time Scamp and I are going down the stairs, often with the moon still visible in the morning sky, the pleasure of being out and about so early, with rarely another soul in sight, takes hold of me.

After Scamp waters a tree, he begins a slow exploratory stop-and-go trot to the dog park where he likes to do his more serious business. We live at the top of the apartment complex and it’s at the bottom, leaving me with plenty of time to observe the sights around me.

The first thing that caught my attention this morning were eight white-winged doves sitting on a utility line. Mostly all I could see were dark profiles, emphasizing their individual shapes. Six looked exactly alike while one appeared skinnier and one fatter, the latter with a tail a bit longer than the others. Seven of the doves were facing away from me, but the one at the farthest edge faced toward me. I wondered what they were all thinking.

As we turned a corner, my eye was then caught by three large round bushes that were covered in bright purple flowers. The bushes had been trimmed a few days earlier by the apartment’s gardeners, and it seemed to me as if they had simply bloomed overnight. Or had I simply not seen them the day before?

The color purple always stops me for a better look when I see it in nature. Pictured here is a Rose of Sharon blossom.

Finally, Scamp — whom I let lead during his morning walks because once the day warms his walks are quick and short because this old broad doesn’t do well in the heat – headed back to our apartment for his breakfast. My own mind at this point was focused on the cup of cream-laced coffee that awaited me.

But as we began walking up the stairs, I got distracted by some movement in a nearby tree. I stopped to look more closely and was rewarded with a flash of yellow and black before a bird flew directly in front of me. It was a Scott’s oriole. While common in Southeast Arizona, one doesn’t see this oriole species often. As an avid birder I was thrilled at the sight – and immediately forgave Scamp for waking me so early.

Bean Pat: As one who wants to identify all the plants I see on my walks, I love this blog. Perhaps you will, too. https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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This display of metal flowers reminded me of the colors of my tye-dye T-shirts, which I wore during the 1960s — and still wear today. — Photo by Pat Bean

I was walking my canine companion Scamp through my apartment complex parking lot this morning when a bumper sticker caught my eye – and sent my mind reeling back to the 1960s.

Make Love Not War, it read.

I watched those hippy-flowerchild years from the sidelines, changing diapers the first half of the decade, and being a naïve reporter thrown into the midst of the Vietnam War protests the last three years.

Having three young sons, whom I never wanted to have to go to war, I thought the slogan was a good one.

A sign for the 1960s is still pertinent today.

The ‘60s also marked the beginning of the battle to approve the Equal Rights Amendment. As a working woman earning less than my male colleagues, I also thought it was a good idea. Not all women back then did, however, and one asked me: “Do you want your daughter to go to war?”

“Of course not,” I replied. “But then I don’t want my sons to go to war either.”

It’s been over half a century since I first heard those four words,  “Make Love Not War.” Three of my five children joined the military. One son spent 10 years in the Army, one daughter spent 10 years in the Navy, and one son make the Army his career, serving over 35 years for this country.

I’m proud of them – but sad that war is still ongoing on this planet. And probably always will be according a book I recently read: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.

Still, that Make Love Not War bumper sticker comforted me this morning, letting me know I wasn’t aloe in wanting everyone to just get along. It also set my brain to recalling the words to a song written in 1955 for the International Children’s Choir. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…

At this point, Scamp noticed a mourning dove on the ground and attempted to give chase, forcing me to pull back hard on his leash. The action forced my brain back to my present surroundings, where the sun was just coming up, birds were chittering, a slight breeze was blowing through my hair – and someone had dropped a coronavirus protective mask on the ground by their car.

As Forest Gump’s mom said: Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

    Bean Pat: Take a break from coronavirus news and look for moose on Michigan’s Isle Royale. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/27/travel/moose-michigan-isle-royale.html?campaign.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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I think this image of three dragonflies is quite representative of my brain last night. It was flitting all over the place. — Art by Pat Bean

“The community which has neither poverty or riches will always have the noblest principle.” – Plato

Morning Rant

Ever have one of those nights when your brain gets stuck on an endless circular track and you can’t stop its roar? I had one of those last night. It started with me thinking about the coronavirus and news stories about attempts to hack the vaccine studies.

The thinking is that a successful vaccine will be worth billions of dollars to its creators, so every little forward movement toward the goal is carefully hoarded and guarded. Perhaps, my little gray cells started calculating, if all that information were shared a vaccine might already have been discovered.

I call this little piece of art peaceful night. Mine wasn’t last night. — Art by Pat Bean

After being on that track for a while, my brain switched to the news story of Jeff Bezos making billions of dollars in one day, which had me thinking about all the hard-working people in this country who somehow exist on lean paychecks.

I’ve done that all my life – and am actually proud of it. I’ve always had enough food to eat, a roof over my head, and enough clothes to wear, even if the food was mostly basic, the roof not gigantic, and sometimes the clothes came from a thrift shop.

These days I feel rich because I can afford to buy books when I want them, although I admit I would do a bit more traveling if my pocketbook was heavier.

But how can one spend billions of dollars on themselves, I ask? As I look around at the richest of the rich, it seems they buy things more to show they are rich than anything else. I don’t deny them their extras and luxuries, but when is too much actually too much?

On the other hand, I’m not a bleeding-heart liberal. I don’t believe able-bodied people should be given handouts, but should have to work for their livelihoods. A welfare check needs to come with a job. Such a program worked once – Civilian Conservation Corps – and I believe it can again. Child care, teacher’s aides, road maintenance, litter clean-up, elderly companions, just to name a few currently being paid for with tax dollars.

But I also believe that the people at the top, whose riches depend on work done by employees, should start handing out huge raises to loyal employees. It seems only fair that the wealth be shared. Thus, went my brain last night. It finally ended up right back where it started. If researchers and drug companies shared their findings, actually caring more about ending the suffering then for themselves, would we already have a working vaccine?

You can read more about my visit to Scarborough Marsh in Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

Bean Pat: Nature: https://naturehasnoboss.com / One of my favorite blogs. Few words and always a great insight into nature, like today’s photo of a ruffed grouse. Such images soothe me after a sleepless night.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.


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I watched this Limpkin during my month-long winter exploration of the Everglades. But I used my computer to educate myself about its ranges and habits.

“Our computers have become windows through which we can gaze upon a world that is virtually without horizons or boundaries.”

Learning New Tricks

I was working for the Fort Worth Star-telegram back in the 1970s when technology first invaded my life. It came in the form of a newfangled thing called a computer that suddenly we reporters had to type our stories on. I was certain I couldn’t do it.

It took me two weeks — during which I would use the typewriter to write, then copy what I had written onto the computer — before I realized I actually could write on the dang technological wonder. That was early enough in the computer age that the computers assigned to us reporters would only allow editing of eight lines of copy before it couldn’t be changed any more,

Not such a wonder at all compared to my next run in with using a computer at the Standard-Examiner in

This was a view visible from my bedroom balcony a few weeks ago. But to learn more about the fire that was ravaging Arizona’s Catalina Mountain Range, I went online to read the news about the blaze. 

Ogden, Utah, where I had accepted a job as lifestyle editor in late 1979. This newspaper used a Morgenthaler computer system that taught me how to cuss.

While there was no limit on lines that could be edited, the machines had a tendency to suddenly shut down and everything that had not been saved was lost. Because I would often forget to push the save button frequently. I sometimes lost whole stories I had spent hours writing.

Then there were the computers at the Times-News in Twin Falls, Idaho, where I was regional editor for a couple of years. The Times’ computers suffered from a storage problem. They sometimes began eating copy that had been edited at the start of the day. My cussing improved at the Times.

When I returned to the Standard-Examiner as assistant city editor in 1985, things were better, but my attitude toward computers had changed. While I had been determined in those early years to learn everything I could about operating a computer, all I wanted to know now was which button to push so the danged thing would do what I wanted it to do instead of what it wanted to do.

I relied on the paper’s tech guys immensely, and they always came through the numerous times I called on them. Having zero patience, I had the habit of too quickly pushing every button on the keyboard when something didn’t happen quickly enough. The teckies nicknamed me Trouble.

My personal first computer, purchased around 1987 if I remember correctly and which I frequently crashed, didn’t even have a hard drive but came with a DOS operating system.  Out of curiosity, I just looked up DOS on Wikipedia and learned that it stands for Disk Operating System and that it had a 16-bit operating system that didn’t support multitasking. My grandkids were more comfortable operating it than I was.

I’m not sure how many personal computers I’ve gone through since then, but I do know that early on I replaced them every two or three years because they so quickly became outdated.

When I retired in 2004 and began nine years of living and traveling on the road in a small RV, I bought my first laptop, and used my phone as a modem to submit freelance stories. In 2006, I got a Verizon hot spot that worked sometimes, but mostly in larger towns. By the time I got off the road in 2013, it mostly worked everywhere.

Thankfully, while my patience hasn’t improved, my latest laptop computer is usually reliable and fast enough to keep me from randomly pushing buttons. I still, however, miss my teckies when my computer does misbehave. But then I am extremely proud of myself when I finally solve the problem on my own — usually after hours and hours of trying everything before finally reading the instructions.

I’ve gone from growing up without a home television until I was 14 to not being able to live without a computer. I use it for writing, submitting freelance articles, emailing and face-timing with friends and family, reading the news, playing games, taking educational classes, learning new skills, birdwatching (live cams and YouTube), storing my writing and photographs, armchair traveling, shopping, and watching television programs and movies since I don’t own a TV. I also use my computer daily to quench my curiosity when I want to know something – like what DOS stands for.

I guess an old broad, this one born almost 25 years before the first commercial computer went on the market, can learn new tricks.

Bean Pat: Cornell University for its Bird Lab live birding cams that let me birdwatch from my bedroom chair during the coronavirus. Thank you. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.



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“Perfect is overrated.” – Tina Fey

Burr Trail switchbacks through Waterpocket Fold on the back way to Capital Reef National Park.


Back when I was an environmental reporter for the Standard-Examiner in Ogden, Utah, there was an ongoing battle about what Southern Utah wilderness areas should be protected. One of the battle issues involved the Burr Trail that begins in the small, off-the-beaten-track town of Boulder. The four-wheel drive, mostly unpaved road takes adventurers through a spectacular landscape to Capital Reef National Park and/or Lake Powell’s Bullfrog Marina in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Hoodoos at sunrise in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

I’ve driven the trail twice, once just for the sightseeing, then again with a photographer for a newspaper story shortly after the area was included as part of The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument that was designated by President Bill Clinton in 1996 – and more recently in 2020 reduced in size by the current man in charge at the White House.

Today, the first 30 miles of the 69-mile or so backroad is paved, which is more than when I traveled it.

I still remember those journeys vividly. Being away from all signs of human activity, surrounded by Mother Nature’s works untouched by development without even the mechanical hum of a refrigerator was soul renewing

I remember stopping at one breathtaking view and getting out of the vehicle to take it all in. It was one of those moments in my life when I felt I was exactly where I should be exactly when I should be.

Those moments have been rare, as I spent most of my life racing from one place to the next, hurrying to meet the expectations of both myself and others. I’ve met about half of those expectations, but until this season of my life never stopped to appreciate the outcomes.

While I don’t like the current social isolation so many of us are experiencing, I do like this quieter winter of my years. It has become the season for me to both learn new things, because I have time to read and study, and to make sense of my own history.

Each day I create a to-do list of more things I want to accomplish before day’s end than there are minutes and hours to accomplish. Thus, I have a starting point and a reason to wake up the next morning.

But when I first started this habit more than a half century ago, I actually expected to complete all the many listed tasks and heartily berated myself for failing. Foolish me!

Having accepted my limitations is why I copied the following quote by Dorothy Gillman in my journal when I came across it not too long ago while reading her memoir A New Kind of Country.

“… all of must grow inside or die, that it’s given to us to live, not on a straight line but a line that slants upwards, so that at the end, having begun at Point A, we may have reached, not Z, but certainly an ascension to I or J.”

I’m not sure I would have understood those words in my younger years. I guess it was the right time for me to read them. Just as the 1990s’ were the right time for me to drive the Burr Trail and explore the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, which I hope still belongs to all Americans when our children’s children are old enough to appreciate public lands.

Bean Pat: To all the utility workers in Tucson who got our power back on after the wind storm this week, and to all the others out there who continue to work at risk to themselves during this coronavirus pandemic, and to all those out in public who wear masks to keep not just themselves but others safe.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Into every life, flowers should fall. So here’s mine to you for today. — Art by Pat Bean

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. John Adams

When I was city editor, I attended a daily meeting to decide what five or so stories would go on my newspaper’s front page for the upcoming edition.

The men – I say men because except for me the only other people in the room were usually all male — and I pretty much agreed without much discussion on four of the stories.

The fifth story, however, almost always prompted disagreement – even among the men. It came down to news judgment, although I must admit that my choice of the last story to be chosen was often gender based and I would end up being the lone holdout for one particular story or another. Sometimes I won the argument and sometimes I lost.

But I was always a proponent of the policy that a newspaper was obliged to print what readers needed to know, not what they wanted to know. And although my colleagues were of a different gender, with perhaps a different outlook, we all still shared that sentiment.

And then the Internet came along and took newspapers’ main source of funding away, advertisements. The after effects were just beginning to be felt a few years before I retired in 2004. I will always remember the day it affected my newspaper’s coverage.

An assistant managing editor proposed that a Britney Spears story be placed on the front page. In my mind that was equal to blasphemy. Only “real” news belonged out front. Celebrity news belonged inside on the entertainment page.  But only myself and one other editor in the room that day felt that way — and we were overruled.

That one move, in my opinion, downgraded the newspaper. But similar moves were being made all across the country, the idea being that if you give the readers what they want to read, they will continue to buy the paper, or whatever product is being marketed.

It was a sad day, in my opinion, for journalism.

But it’s a practice that is prevalent in today’s world. For example, what you read online is a good example. The number of times a story is visited – it’s called hits – the more likely you are to see more and more similar stories.

So, if a story on what Brad Pitt has for breakfast gets a million hits and a story on global warming gets only a thousand, that should explain why there is so much celebrity gossip being written and talked about than the kind of news we should know.

My brain follows that idea by thinking about the zillions and zillions of people who are clicking on Prince Harry and Meagan Markle stories. We are getting what we are asking for.

As Pogo said: We have met the enemy and he is us.

Just something to think about as you read today’s news online.

My canine companion Scamp

Bean Pat: To all the media outlets that continue to stick to facts and write about what readers need to know. And yes, there are still some, and I hope you are daily reading or listening to one.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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A Writer’s Dilemma

I always felt more at home in a newsroom than at home. This was my little working corner at the Standard-Examiner for the 10 years I was the paper’s environmental reporter. While I loved everything about my 37-year journalism career, this was my favorite assignment. — Photo by my journalism colleague Charlie Trentelman.

“It is necessary to write if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten …That is where the writer scores over his fellows: He catches the changes of his mind on the hop.” Vita Sackville-West.

I started writing my memoir just about a year ago. I wrote two chapters that pleased me. Then I read the beginning of a memoir by another author and suddenly was not so happy about my own. I realized what I had written ignored common writing advice to begin with the action. My first words lacked the hook to make the reader continue reading.

Since that illumination, I have written zero on the memoir, questioning even if I want to do all the hard work such a project requires – from dredging up memories I’d rather remain forgotten, to rewriting and rewriting to make the words sing like they should, to the agonizing nitty-gritty editing required that I know and understand perfectly from publishing Travels with Maggie, to the relentless task of finding a publisher or self-publishing and marketing, etc., etc., etc.

I think I have an important story to tell about journalism in its heyday, and how a high school dropout and mother of five became an award-winning journalist who interviewed U.S. Presidents Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon, military generals, governors, homeless fathers, astronauts, Irving Stone, Robert Redford, and Maya Angelou, just to name a few highlights of an exciting career that began with me sneaking in the backdoor of a small Texas newspaper as a darkroom flunky.

If I write my story, I would call it Between Wars, as my first significant byline story in 1967 involved interviewing a mother whose son had been killed in Vietnam and one of my last articles was an opinion column in 2003 that argued against going into Iraq the second time.

To write, or not to write? That’s this writer’s dilemma. How do I want to spend the next three to five years of my life if I’m blessed to still be around that long?

I retired in 2004 and spent the next nine years traveling this country in a small RV with mt canine companion, then wrote about some of the adventures in Travels with Maggie, now available on Amazon. .

Bean Pat: Dorothy Gilman and her Mrs. Pollifax fictional protagonist. I’m currently rereading the books, and am now on Book 8 of the 14-book series, and loving the hat-loving senior citizen’s upbeat outlook on life. I recommend the books as relief from all the nastiness that is going on in the world today.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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While it’s exciting to hike new trails, it’s just as satisfying to see the blossoms of a saguaro grow and blossom with the passing days. — Photo by Pat Bean

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

These days, my pre-dawn walks with my canine companion Scamp, who wakes me and won’t consider letting me go back to sleep, are mostly limited to short treks around my Catalina Foothills apartment complex here in Tucson.

Even so, I enjoy the walks and usually find something new and interesting to see on them, like the toad Scamp

Resident juvenile great horned owls from a couple years past sitting on the top of one of the apartment buildings. — Photo by Pat Bean

scared out of the bushes last week. “You don’t want to mess with that,” I told him as I pulled him away.

For the past couple of months, I’ve also been frequently sighting two juvenile great horned owls, that are the offspring of our resident great horns. As they’ve matured, the sightings have become less frequent. They’re learning that we homo sapiens aren’t always safe to be around.

But I suspect there will be more unafraid young owls to watch next year. Of the eight years, I’ve lived in the complex, I’ve seen baby owls six of them.

This year’s young owls, meanwhile, have taken an interest in my downstairs neighbor’s chihuahua Ginger, who weighs just about nothing. “I stand over her while she does her business,” my neighbor says, “and keep an eye out for those dang owls.”

I don’t have to worry about Scamp as he weighs about 40 pounds and is quite rambunctious besides. So, when I do see the owls, I simply go into bird-watching mode, a hobby I took up 20 years ago. While the owls didn’t show up during this morning’s walk, I did get to watch a gila woodpecker, sitting atop a saguaro, the one whose blossoms I have been daily tracking for the past two weeks.

And it’s a rare day when I don’t see doves, both mourning and white-winged species. The smaller mourning doves

A white-winged dove keeping an eye on Scamp and me as we walk past. — Photo by Pat Bean

sleep on the ground and Scamp is always trying to sneak up on them. He enjoys chasing after the doves, well until the leash pulls him up short.

While my morning walks aren’t as exciting as they were when I was traveling around the country in a small RV, and every few days would have new territory to explore, I’m fortunate to live next door to a bit of undeveloped desert full of wildlife, including javelinas, roadrunners, coyotes, quail, and even a bobcat or two.

Such encounters, at a safe distance from some of them of course, almost make me glad that Scamp insists on getting me out of bed at o’dark-hundred.

Bean Pat: To Caroline Randall Williams for her eye-opening essay in the New York Times on why the southern monuments are a slap in the face to Blacks. It offered this southern white girl, who has never considered herself racist, a better understanding of the inequities of the past and the present. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/26/opinion/confederate-monuments-racism.html

Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.


Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Saturday evening view of the Bighorn Fire from my Tucson apartment balcony. — Photo by Pat Bean

“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” – Barbara De Angelis

I was born in Dallas, where tornadoes sometimes ravage the landscape, including a recent one near a granddaughter’s home as it rampaged through her neighborhood destroying quite a few homes and nearby businesses.

I lived for 15 years on The Texas Gulf Coast where I survived several hurricanes, including Carla in 1961, when our family had to evacuate the area and not return for over two weeks. We lost a freezer full of meat meant to feed the family for several months – and because of the stench, I trashed the freezer as well. The electrical power was off for weeks.

Another view of the fire in the Arizona Star.

For 25 years, I lived along the earthquake fault line of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah, and although I never went through a major shake, I was bounced around a few times by shock waves. And I narrowly avoided a landslide in Sardine Canyon between Logan and Brigham City just a couple of months after I moved to Utah.

I’ve been stranded a few times by floods, and watched as rivers rose to destroy homes and land. In 1995, I enjoyed a camping trip from hell when a landslide took out the Zion Canyon Road in Zion National Park. Our group was snowed on, rained on, and had our tents blown down by the storm that hit the area.

Mother Nature can be cruel.

But I try to respect her while continuing to enjoy her bounties, which have given many delightful pleasures and much peace during my lifetime.

Sitting quietly by a rivulet of water as it gurgles its way down a mountain canyon, basking in the colorful shimmer of aspen leaves in fall, eating lunch behind a waterfall in Deer Creek Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park, or hiking a bench trail on Mount Ogden have been just a tiny few nature activities that have kept me sane in an unsane world.

The road to the top of Mount Lemmon in a photo I took last year on a day trip is now closed. — Photo by Pat Bean

Even in today’s self-isolation environment I daily watch birds, and the ever-changing seasons of the landscape from my third-floor balconies. I often see the sun blossom from behind the mountains before I rise from my bed, and I try to be on my living room balcony to watch sunsets as they dazzlingly color the sky with yellow, gold, orange and red before disappearing below the horizon.

Such scenes lower my blood pressure.

But not the one I saw Saturday night from my bedroom balcony. A fire started by a lightning strike in the Catalina Mountains has now consumed nearly 60,000 acres and forced numerous evacuations of small mountain communities. And the news this morning noted that the fire has only been about 20 percent contained. Nearly 1,000 firefighters and plane-dropped retardants haven’t yet been able to match Mother Nature’s power.

Eventually, the landscape will recover and actually be richer because of the fire. But many people may not have the means to recover. And this is just a small pocket of the larger picture of what the coronavirus is doing to the world’s economy.

Let’s face it. Life is not fair. And the only control we have is how we react to it. My hope is that somewhere in the equation kindness and love will win out over the destructive forces of nature — and the harmful and hateful side of the human species.

Bean Pat: To all the firefighters and support crew working to contain the Bighorn Fire in the Catalina Mountains.

Silver Lining: Democrats and Republicans, in a rare bipartisan moment this past week, passed the Great American Outdoors Act to fund over $20 billion worth of delayed maintenance projects in America’s parks and public lands. I love this for two reasons, first because I love public lands and second because the two polarized political parties worked together. Hopefully, this unity will continue to foster things that are to the benefit of all Americans and not just benefit one party or the other.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Digging through my scrapbooks, I found the story I did about flying in a KC-135 tanker over the Grand Canyon, a National Guard event to entice women to join the service.

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain

I was having a virtual Jack and Coke Zoom night with my good friend Kim Monday when we started talking about celebrations for her approaching 60th birthday. She and I have been observing birthdays together now for just about half our lives.

My friend Kim and I right before we jumped out of an airplane to celebrate my 70th birthday.

Recalling the fantastic time 11 years ago when we had celebrated my 70th birthday by jumping out of an airplane, she wanted to do something just as memorable

Among other things, we had earlier talked about a cruise and visit to Iceland, both of which are off the radar now because of the coronavirus.

“You know I haven’t visited the Grand Canyon,” she interjected into the conversation. “But I think I’m past the time when I can hike down to its bottom.”

That brought a laugh from me, and the comment that I was way past that time. “I gave up my annual birthday hike to the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion some years back now.”

“Perhaps a helicopter ride over the canyon. I could handle that,” Kim said.

Her words brought up a couple of memories for me. I’ve visited the Grand Canyon many times, including twice spending 16 days paddling through it on the Colorado River, and once flying over it in a KC-135 Tanker as it refueled three B-1 Bombers and a fighter jet. I was along for the ride as a reporter covering the outing, which had been planned to show women the sky was the limit if they joined the National Guard.

Kim during one of our outings to Zion National Pak to celebrate one of my birthdays.

Both the Grand Canyon rafting and over-flying experiences rank among the top 10 experiences of my life. As a rafter, I disdained the helicopters flying overhead the canyon, but my view of the canyon from the glass bottom at the rear of the KC-135, where the boom operator lay for the refueling process, made me rethink my attitude. While not exactly environmentally correct, I wanted everyone to have such an experience. Sometimes we have to stop thinking about life and just live it – especially if, like me, we’ve survived to become old broads.

And so, I told my friend Kim that if she wanted to do a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon to count me in. Kim, by the way, celebrates her birthday the same day as Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, which is September 22.

Bean Pat: To my granddaughter Keri, who posted “I Love You” on Facebook, noting that if people can hate for no reason, she can love for no reason. I am so proud of her.

Bean Pat Silver Lining: To Wing, a drone company, and a Virginian librarian, who will be joining forces to drop library books to kids. This is such a great idea, as are any others that encourage children to read. A home with children and no books is, to my way of thinking, child abuse. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/drones-will-drop-library-books-for-kids-in-virginia/

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.


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