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Archive for the ‘Journeys’ Category

“When the man walked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.” — Barbara Kingsolver.

I knew it had gotten too quiet. — Photo by Pat Bean

It’s morning. My coffee is brewing. I am sitting at my computer checking email while waiting for it to be ready. It is quiet. I look down.

The scene is easily described in two words: New Puppy.

And now you know why I renamed him Scamp.

*Available on Amazon, 

Bean Pat: Reading with a dog. http://lindahoye.com/readingunwanted/

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

 

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And Maiden to Crone

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued is always just beyond your grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly may alight upon you.” — Nathaniel Hawthorne

Bald cypress trees along the Frio River at Texas’ Garner State Park. — Wikimedia photo by John Bonzo

I was camping at Garner State Park, back in my full-time RV-ing days, looking for birds when I came upon one of nature’s many surprises.

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly — Photo by Pat Bean

Chomping down on tiny ground plants hidden among the short grass were a dozen or so pipevine swallowtail larvae. That morning, I had seen, and photographed, the end result of all this chomping and transformation business, an awesome pipevine swallowtail butterfly.
To become that beautiful butterfly, it had to first give up being a caterpillar.

I thought about this as one of those lessons Mother Nature shows us if we look to her for advice. Just as the landscape and wildlife change from season to season – the land from green to white between summer and winter, and birds molt their feathers for drabber ones and foxes change their fur color, so we

Pipevine larva

are changing with the years.
There are even names for the female cycle, maiden, mother and crone. I’m definitely in the latter cycle right now, although I prefer the term old broad to crone. I’m the butterfly to the caterpillar. I like thinking of myself that way. While time may have left me a bit worn and tattered, happiness has alighted upon my shoulder with the quietness and beauty of a butterfly.

And now this wandering-wondering old broad wonders if the butterfly enjoys its final cycle as much as I am enjoying mine.

Bean Pat: Nature has No Boss https://naturehasnoboss.com/2019/06/12/luminous/#like-12113 Yellow is my favorite color

The Book

*Available on Amazon, Travels with Maggie features a list of birds saw each leg of the journey.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

 

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             “Color is a power which directly influences the soul.” – Wassily Kandinsky

Painted bunting — Wikimedia photo

The Bunting Came with a Bonus

Back in my early birding days, I spent some time at Texas’ Cedar Hill State Park near Dallas in search of a painted

Female painted bunting. — Wikimedia photo

bunting. It took three days of breaking spider webs on trails in the early mornings, and one day of slogging through the mud after a night of rain, but I eventually found one of these clownish-colored birds.

When in the open, you can’t miss the adult male.  He has a bright blue head, a scarlet breast, a green back, and a red rump. The female and first-year males are more subdued, dressed in shades of green, with the breast leaning toward yellow on the color wheel. These birds, however, feel more comfortable when ensconced in thick foliage, thus my difficulty in finding one.

The colorful bird I finally found on my fourth day of looking was an easily identifiable adult male perched in a tree near a small pond.  The painted bunting became bird species No. 383 on my life list (which now numbers 710). The painted bunting is nicknamed nonpareil (without equal) in French and mariposa pintado (painted butterfly) in Spanish because of its spectacular appearance.

Appropriately, a group of painted buntings is called a mural or a palette.

Green heron — Wikimedia photo

Sad to say, the bird’s beauty made it a popular caged bird until its capture and captivity became illegal in the United States. It is still, however, a hot item with the international pet trade, and the birds are particularly popular as pets in Asia and Europe, which may be one of the reasons its numbers are dwindling.

Meanwhile, as I was enjoying my front-row view of the Cedar Hill painted bunting years ago, it was suddenly displaced on the limb by another bird. I would have been upset, except this bird was a green heron – bird species No. 384.

Some days, life is really good.

Bean Pat: Traveling with dogs. https://jamieandthedogs.wordpress.com/2019/06/05/yep-just-me-and-four-dogs-heading-east/  This reminds me of my years on the road in my small RV, only I just had one dog.

*Available on Amazon, Travels with Maggie features a list of birds saw each leg of the journey.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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            “The daily hummingbird assaults existence with improbability.” Ursula K. Le Guin

Male Anna’s hummingbird. — Wikimedia photo

A Constant Delight at my Nectar Feeder

            If you want to see hummingbirds in North America, then Southeastern Arizona is the best place to be. While there are over 300 species of hummingbirds that can be found in South America, only about 17 come north across the Mexican border. Of that number, at least 13 of these species can be found around Tucson, where I currently live.

Female Anna’s hummingbird — Wikimedia photo

In my home state of Texas, the only hummingbird I would likely see is the ruby-throated.  Here in Tucson, I get six species regularly visiting my third-floor balcony nectar feeder every year: broad-billed, black-chinned, Costa’s, Anna’s, broad-tailed and rufous. Although it didn’t come to my feeder, I even spotted a Lucifer hummingbird in the tree next to my balcony two years ago. That was a life bird for me, and a one-time event so far in my life.

Of the hummingbirds that visit my apartment, I may only see one or two rufous during an entire year. The other five, however, are more common, especially Anna’s. This feisty little bird doesn’t migrate so I get to see it almost daily throughout the year.

The females are dainty things, with glittering green and white feathers with perhaps a few sparkling magenta gems around their necks. The

I saw my first Costa;s hummingbird from my third-floor Tucson balcony. — Wikimedia photo

males are agile dive bombers who guard my nectar feeder against other hummers, and they have brilliant crimson-red crowns and necks that shimmer in the sunlight. I never tire of watching them.

Perhaps because Anna’s favorite food is nectar from feeders put out by humans, they have had no problem surviving loss of habitat, as so many other birds have. In the early 20th century, Anna’s could only be found on the Baja California Peninsula but they have slowly been spreading northward and inward.

The hummers were named after Anna Massena, Duchess of Rivoli. Why? This wondering-wanderer immediately asks. I didn’t find the answer. Do you know?

Bean Pat: https://naturehasnoboss.com/2019/06/04/as-the-snow-melts/  It’s time to visit Yellowstone.

*Available on Amazon, Travels with Maggie features a list of birds saw each leg of the journey.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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Keeping Bird Lists 

Black-bellied whistling ducks at Brazos Bend State Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

I first started keeping a list of all the bird species I saw in 1999. Sadly, that was after I had visited Hawaii and a few other hot birding places or my list might be much longer today. My world list of bird species currently totals 710.

It’s not a particularly awesome number, but it’s still growing. The list pleases me, as I suspect the list President Theodore Roosevelt put together of the birds he saw during his White House occupancy pleased him.

Spotting the pink of a lone roseate spoonbill, as Lewis and I did among a flock of white ibis, was pure delight. — Photo by Pat Bean

I only recently learned of Teddy’s list, which was printed in 1910 by Audubon’s magazine, Bird-Lore.  Of course, I had to check it out, and so can you at:  https://www.birdnote.org/blog/2014/04/president-theodore-roosevelts-bird-checklist-white-house

The White House list contains 93 birds, of which I have seen all but five. I’m still looking for a saw-whet owl, a whippoorwill, an orchard oriole, a Cape May warbler and a Kentucky warbler.

When I first started birding, I kept individual lists of the birds I saw on each field outing, later adding any new ones to my life list. Most of those lists have disappeared, making me as sad as Darwin was about not separating the bird specimens that he collected on the first two Galapagos Islands he visited. He had simply assumed the species would not differ from island to island – but they did.

Wiser now, with 20 years of birding behind me, I add field trip bird lists directly into my journals.* Such a practice let me compare my last two Texas Gulf Coast bird outings with my son, Lewis, who shares my birding addiction.

A flock of white ibis at Brazos Bend State Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

The first field trip was on a very hot July 11th day in 2018, with high humidity and mosquitos, when we birded the Bay City Bird Sanctuary in a golf cart, followed by a quick drive through San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge.  We saw only 19 bird species, the best sighting being that of a Cooper’s hawk circling above the wooded path we were driving on.

The most recent outing took place on May 2 this month, when we briefly explored the Elm Lake Trail at Brazos Bend State Park, drove through Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge (where Lewis and I had our first bird outing and he began his life list with a summer tanager), then watched birds as we ate lunch at Pirates Cove on Surfside Beach. This time our list numbered 47 for the morning, the final bird being a reddish egret at Christmas Bay off the coastal Blue Water Highway between Freeport and Galveston.

While this was a better birding day, it was still nowhere near the record 100 birds Lewis and I once saw in a single day birding the same area. The recordings of these more recent bird days in my journals are alike, however, in one aspect. Both contained entries that noted the best part of the day was simply getting to spend time with my son.

Bean Pat: Cadillac Ranch and Palo Duro Canyon https://anotefromabroad.com/2019/05/22/texas-cadillac-ranch-and-palo-duro-canyon/#like-108774 Two of this native Texan’s favorite places. One for laughs and the other for peace, nature and bird-watching.

*Available on Amazon, Travels with Maggie features a list of birds saw each leg of the journey.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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“Before you get a dog, you can’t quite imagine what living with one might be like; afterwards, you can’t imagine living any other way.” – Caroline Knapp

His name was Smidge at the animal shelter. He’s now mine and I call him Harley.

My New Dog, Harley

Almost two months ago, I lost my canine companion Pepper. It was a sad time in my life, but almost immediately I began looking for a new dog to rescue. Sadly, I discovered the shelters were filled with pit-bull mixes and chihuahuas, while I wanted a 20 to 30-pound female dog, as I have always owned, one full of energy and life and love.

I finally put a notice on Facebook asking friends if they knew of a dog that needed rescuing, and almost immediately received a picture of Wilma, who seemed perfect. But after I had filled out a ridiculously long adoption application, I was notified that someone else’s application was accepted over mine.

Harley likes laying by the patio door so he can listen to all the outside activity here at my apartment complex.

Then early Thursday morning, when I opened my email, I was informed that Suzanne, the mother of one of my best friends in the world, had tagged me in a Facebook post. When I checked it out, I saw the dog, then called Smidge, you see above. I immediately knew that was the dog for me – and soon I started crying, which is how my friend Jean found me when she dropped off her dog Dusty, whom I watch during the day while Jean works.

Like me, Dusty has been grieving for our beloved Pepper, The two were besties who had played together almost daily for five years.

“So why are you crying?” Jean asked. I want this dog, I said, as I showed her the photo, and she (at that time I thought it was a she) is at a shelter in Ogden, Utah, 800 miles away. I had already called my friend, Kim, who lives in Ogden, and my former coworker, Charlie. Kim didn’t answer her phone and Charlie said he would love to go get the dog for me except he just had a shoulder replacement and couldn’t drive.

I was pondering who else to call in Ogden, where I lived and worked for 25 years, when Kim woke up and called me back, asking what the emergency was, noting that I had called her four times. After I explained, she said, “I’m on my way to the shelter now.”

And it was a good thing she was, because just minutes after she arrived and asked to see Smidge, and took the dog out for a walk to see how it behaved. another woman showed up wanting to adopt him.

After walking him, Kim called and said the dog seemed perfect although he was a male. “Do you still want him?  “She asked. I did.

So, she got him, kept him Friday, and Saturday drove 300 miles south with him to her brother’s house in St. George, Utah, while I drove 500 miles north to St. George. Talk about a good friend! I am truly blessed.

And she was right about Smidge, who now is called Harley, although his puppy ways might get him nicknamed Dufus. He is perfect — well almost.

He’s seven months old, still with a puppy’s chewing ways, weighs 18 pounds, but looks bigger because he badly needs a haircut, and I have to have him neutered within the next 30 days as part of the adoption agreement. But he’s mostly house trained, loves to cuddle and wants to greet and play with every person and dog he meets, which was a Pepper trait that I dearly loved. He also likes to play tug of war with my socks when I’m putting them on.

Edith Wharton said her little dog was a “heartbeat to her feet.” Since Harley now follows me everywhere, that fits him, too. Just having him around has already made my heart beat happier.

Bean Pat: Mothers and Daughters https://onewomansday.wordpress.com/2019/05/13/may-13-that-baby-stuff/  A Mother’s Day blog

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She is also currently looking for a new canine companion. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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“I chose the road less traveled. And now I’m lost.” — Darynda Jones

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Carlsbad, New Mexico

Road Trip June 21 — July 6, 2002

If you’re in Carlsbad, New Mexico, the No. 1 place to visit is Carlsbad Caverns National Park. But since I had already done this, I decided to forgo the cave tour and instead visit the city’s Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. It was a good choice as I added three new bird species to my life list — and got an educational experience about the landscape, plants, and animals of the Chihuahuan Desert.

Barn owl. — Wikimedia photo

It was late afternoon when I arrived, giving me only a couple of hours to walk the 1.3 loop trail around the park’s variety of desert habitats that included sandhills, marsh areas and arroyos. But it was a good time to see daytime birds getting ready to nest for the night, or nighttime birds coming awake for their night of activity.

The first stop was an aviary near the visitor center that featured native birds of prey including golden and bald eagles. While these were fun to see, it was the birds that flew free around the avian-friendly park that interested me more. One of these, a barn owl flew right in front of me as I rounded a curve in the trail, which I seemed to have all to myself. A little farther on, a couple of scaled quail scurried off when they saw me coming, but not before I had a satisfying look at them.

Because back then I was still new to birding, both of these species were lifers for my growing bird list. So were the common nighthawks skimming the water at Waterfowl Pond near the prairie dog homes. I easily identified the nighthawks, well after a quick look at my bird field guide, by the broad white stripes visible near their wing tips as they flew.

Bank swallow

Also circling around the ponds were quite a few cliff and bank swallows. I had seen quite a few of these birds during trips to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Northern Utah. On one outing there had been a huge flock of five species of swallows circling around and under a small bridge. I had spent hours learning how to tell them apart. The bank and swift swallows, I had decided were the easiest to identify.

The bank swallow has a gray, necklace-like stripe on its white breast, which I came to think of as a banker’s bow tie. The mature cliff swallow, meanwhile, has a prominent white spot on its bluish-black head that flashes when its flying toward you. 

Other birds I saw as I followed the winding trail through the desert landscape included a Harris hawk, burrowing owls, black-chinned hummingbirds and an Eastern kingbird. It was a delightful late afternoon that ended far too quickly.

According to my journal notes, I paid a $4 entrance fee to be admitted to the park. I certainly got my money’s worth, and I noted that the admission fee today is only $1 more. A bargain I would say.

Available on Amazon

Bean Pat: Seaman https://sarah-angleton.com/2019/04/11/a-classy-post-about-a-loyal-dog-with-an-unfortunate-name. A dog story and a travel story in one, and it made me smile.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She is also currently looking for a new canine companion. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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