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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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“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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An American Bittern — Art by Pat Bean

          I woke up this morning,

          Smiled at the rising sun,

          Three little birds,

          Sat on my doorstep,

          Singing sweet songs. – Bob Marley

          One early autumn morning in Maine some years back, I set out for a short walk in Scarborough Marsh, a boggy landscape created thousands of years ago when icebergs advanced and retreated across the land, leaving behind a depression into which the ocean crept.

The marsh was filled with egrets, gulls, doves, chickadees, sparrows, robins, kingfishers, and jays that kept luring me on until my short walk turned into a four-hour hike, making me late getting on the road for the day’s actual destination.

Scarborough Marsh, Mine. — Photo by Pat Bean

A wooden boardwalk took me through the middle of a saltwater marsh, past islands of grass surrounded by patches of water, and a few birch trees, whose gold and red leaves shimmered in the sunlight. In the distance, a belted kingfisher sat on a lone stump in a golden field of waving grasses.

But my best bird sighting of the morning was an American bittern. The tall bird’s streaky brown feathers and reach-to-the sky stance camouflaged it quite neatly among the reeds. It was only when I caught its movement to snatch a tidbit from the waterlogged ground that I saw it.

Bitterns belong to the heron family, and North America has two, the American Bittern and the Least Bittern. Because they are a secretive species with excellent camouflage features, I’m always delighted to find one. Over my lifetime I’ve probably only seen maybe a dozen American and just one Least.

Yellow Bittern — Wikimedia photo

I did, however, see a Yellow Bittern when I visited Guam. That sighting was a special treat because it was New Year’s Day and I wanted my first bird of the year to be something other than a house sparrow, my first bird of the year back then for five years running.

Because birds were scarce on Guam, having been decimated by the arrival of non-native brown tree snakes, it was nearly noon before I saw my first bird that year, a small Yellow Bittern that flew directly in front of me.

Thinking about birds this morning is a distraction from thinking about all the chaos currently going on the world – or of yesterday’s dentist appointment to be followed an upcoming one to extract a tooth and get a partial fitted.

Such is life. Good memories are the silver lining of aging. I’m glad my cup runneth-over with them.

You can read more about my visit to Scarborough Marsh in 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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Living in COVID Time

Scamp wasn’t happy with the grooming process, but he did enjoy the treats I bribed him with to be good. — Photo by Pat Bean 

Headstrong is just a word that others call you when you don’t do what they want. – Jennifer Donnelly   

My canine companion Scamp does not have a mean bone in his body. But he is a headstrong rascal who needs a groomer just as headstrong. I had one. She handled Scamp beautifully. Then along came the coronavirus. My groomer was an older woman who wisely is staying at home.

After waiting almost a month to get a grooming appointment for Scamp this past week, he was then sent home without being groomed.

“He’s just too hard to handle,” the young woman groomer said. I had noticed on checking him in that she appeared to be way overbooked and a bit bitchy. I think he was an easy choice to make her day, as an inexperienced groomer, go better

OK, I’m not happy about Scamp flunking grooming class, and she rejected my dog, so I’m probably the one who is being bitchy.

Maggie was easier to groom than Scamp. I used to plug my clippers into the outside outlet and sit on the step of my RV to groom her. I groomed Scamp on my living room floor yesterday. Did I mention that my vacumn cleaner is now plugged up? — Photo by Pat Bean

I have groomed a couple of my dogs in the past, primarily Maggie, the spoiled cocker spaniel who traveled around the country in a small RV with me for eight years. And since I’m pretty headstrong myself, I tackled Scamp with the grooming clippers yesterday.

It was not fun, and it is not finished. The first error I made was forgetting to put the length guard on my clippers and taking a good swipe down Scamp’s back. That committed me to doing the same for his entire body.

I actually like him with the shorter haircut because his bottom coat is silver while his topcoat is black. But the shorter look means every mistake shows. And, trust me, there are many mistakes.

Today, I need to tackle the toenails. So far, I’ve managed to trim three. My goal is to spend 15 minutes a day on the grooming process until it is finished. I suspect it might become an unending daily task,

No wonder I had a coronavirus nightmare last night.

Bean Pat: To Coursea, which offers free online college classes. One of the more popular classes during COVID Time is the one on psychological first aid for people with depression, anxiety, or emotional distress.

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

Today’s Silver Lining: While grooming Scamp is a pain in the behind for this old broad, I’m saving a good bit of money by doing it myself.

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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“You can’t escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln.

A small bit of protection for monarch butterflies is my silver lining for today. If I’m going to face reality, I will also need to find a bit of good in the world to keep me sane.

If not wearing a mask while carrying an American flag in a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters, and then purposely coughing on one of the peaceful protesters, is considered patriotic, then I am living in the wrong country.

The above incident actually happened here in Tucson. What has this world evolved into?

When did so many Americans become so hateful? As a person who is always looking for a silver lining, will I be able to find one among the current cacophony of hateful voices? These are questions I’m asking myself this morning.

I’m also asking myself what can I do as an 81-year-old former journalist to halt the hateful acts I see going on around me. Since beginning this blog 11 years ago, I have written nearly 2,000 posts. With rare exceptions, they have all been upbeat and positive.

Perhaps it’s time I lost my Pollyanna persona, which truly is the majority portion of my being, and dipped into the part of myself that writes about the darker side of life that goes on around me – the side I didn’t ignore as a working journalist,

Perhaps I should now take this blog to the political side.

But I am not going to blame Trump for the actions of the American people. I don’t believe in the blame game. While our president often makes me cringe because of his behavior, and even ashamed to belong to the same human race as he, the woman who coughed on another person in these days of the coronavirus virus, is the only one responsible for her bullying, despiteful, hateful act.

But you can bet your life on it, I will not be voting for Trump.

Bean’s Silver-Lining Pat: A partnership of 45 companies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been formed to reduce the loss of monarch butterfly habitat in North America. Perhaps a drop in the bucket to the loss of other wildlife protections these days, but any step forward is one that I consider a silver lining.

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 didn’t get my Texas bluebonnet fix this year. The isolation curfew kept me home here in Tucson. But at least I have my memories. This photo was shot on Goose Island State Park a few years ago. — Photo by Pat Bean.

“I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part and discuss it only with consenting adults.” – Molly Ivins

But My Soul Requires Mountains

I’m a transplanted Texan, but the Lone Star State has a grip on my heart, even after half a century of living elsewhere.

My old Texas roots wink at me from a hoopoe-pecking oil rig sitting in a meadow full of bluebonnets when I go home to visit family once or twice a year; they wave at me when I pass a field full of cotton ready to be harvested, jogging my memory of the story my mother told about her father picking cotton during the Great Depression so she could have a prom dress.

A drive to the top of Mount Lemmon on Sky Island Parkway is just minutes away. I think I will break the isolation curfew and drive it this weekend. It will make up for missing Texas’ bluebonnets. — Photo by Pat Bean

The sight of a mockingbird brazenly flashing the white on its gray wings takes me back to the apricot tree that sat in my grandmother’s large garden. Almost every piece of ripened fruit I picked had first been tasted by one of these noisy Texas state birds.

My memory then morphs from mockingbirds to me as a little girl sitting on the tall back steps of my grandmother’s home eating her freshly baked pralines until I made myself sick.

I sat on those same steps often each afternoon as I waited for the silver Texas Zephyr to roar past on the railroad tracks beyond the vacant field behind the house. I always waved at the engineer and imagined that the whistle, blown as the train neared the crossing, was sounded just for me.

Perhaps I did inherit my grandfather’s wanderlust, as my mother told me, but I think that Texas Zephyr might have roared its ways into my veins as well.    Where had it been? Where was it going? I wanted to go, too – and over the years I did.

My grandmother, whom I adored, was a Texan through and through. She said if a person wasn’t born in Texas than they didn’t deserve to be. It’s an attitude difficult for non-Texans to understand. It also an attitude not likely to earn friends – yet I have it.

But while I truly feel Texan through and through, I’ve chosen to live the latter and longest portion of my life among the mountains, first living and working next to the Wasatch Range in Utah, then visiting as many mountains as I could, and now nesting next to the Santa Catalina Range in Arizona.

My life doesn’t feel right if I can’t watch the daily changing moods of a mountain, and feel the comfort of its sturdiness as the years of my life race by.

How does this flatlander Texan — the person who goes back home and almost weeps with delight as truck drivers tip their hats at me as I pass them on one back road or another — feel about this dichotomy?

It’s mind-boggling. All I can think is that while my roots are planted in Texas soil, I’m thankful the dirt has been rich enough to let me flourish wherever my feet have taken me.

Bean Pat: One of my favorite Texas bloggers. https://pitsfritztow nnews.wordpress.com/2020/05/15/mama-with-twins/

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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Mrs. Polifax is quite fond of flowered hats.

“She drew herself up to her full height—it was a little difficult on a donkey—and said primly, ‘I have found that in painful situations it is a sensible idea to take each hour as it comes and not to anticipate beyond. But oh how I wish I could have a bath!’” – Words spoken by Dorothy Gilman’s fictional Emily Pollifax, a white-haired senior citizen who decided she wanted to be a spy.

A Series Quite Worth Rereading Today            

I discovered Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax books back in the 1970s, which marked some major turning points in my life. I was influenced by the character’s upbeat, adventurous and realistic attitude, and her efforts to make her life more meaningful than garden club meetings. I was, in a different way, trying to do the same.

Angela Lansbury played Mrs. Pollifax in a 1999 CBS TV Movie. And Rosalind Russell played her in a 1971 movie. Angela fit the role much better than Rosalind.

Gilman’s The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax was the first book in the series, written in 1966, and Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled, published in 2000, was the 14th. On discovering the books, I quickly read all that had been written at the time and eagerly awaited the next to come out.

Given that I have been a bit out of sorts with the current coronavirus and world situation, and my decision to stay isolated, I decided I would reread the Pollifax books. I finished the first of the 14 in the series at 2 a.m. this morning, and am eager to go on to the next.

Perhaps you would like to join me. Here are a few Emily Pollifax quotes so you can judge for yourself.

“Tragedies don’t interest me, tragedies and heartbreaks are all alike, what matters is how a person meets them, how they survive them.”

“It’s terribly important for everyone, at any age, to live to his full potential. Otherwise a kind of dry rot sets in, a rust, a disintegration of personality.”

“Everything is a matter of choice, and when we choose are we not gambling on the unknown and its being a wise choice? And isn’t it free choice that makes individuals of us? … I believe myself that life is quite comparable to a map … a constant choice of direction and route.”

“I have a flexible mind—I believe it’s one of the advantages of growing old. I find youth quite rigid at times.”

Dorothy Gilman

“Because lately I’ve had the feeling we rush toward something-some kind of Armageddon-set into motion long ago. There are so many people in the world, and so much destructiveness. I was astonished when I first heard that a night-blooming cereus blooms only once a year, and always at midnight. It implies such intelligence somewhere.”

Gilman was born in 1923 and died in 2012 at the age of 88. Her Pollifax series was begun at a time when women in mystery meant Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, and international espionage meant young government men like Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Emily Pollifax became a spy in the 1960s’ and may be the only spy in literature to belong simultaneously to the CIA and her local garden club, according to Wikipedia.

Bean Pat: A tribute to Dorothy Gilman for the many, many hours of pleasure and contemplation she has given me for nearly half a century, and to the hundreds of other writers who have done the same

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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Home with a Scamp

Scamp taking in the morning sun as it came in through my bedroom balcony this morning. — Photo by Pat Bean

“No one appreciates the very special genius of our conversation as the dog does.” – Christopher Morley

At Least I Can Hug My Dog

The shelter ad said she was eight months old, a schnauzer mix, and it called the dog Smidge.

Wrong, wrong and wrong. She was a he, and probably a couple of months younger than claimed, and there is not a smidgen of schnauzer in him– at least according to the DNA results I received yesterday, a gift from my youngest daughter who did the swabbing.

Scamp taking a snooze after a lengthy session of ball throwing and retrieving in the house. — Photo by Pat Bean.

I immediately knew the dog’s name was not Smidge, and thought it might be Harley. But two weeks later, I knew without a doubt that his name was Scamp. For one thing, he resembles the Disney animated dog Scamp, and he definitely is one.

His puppy ways and how he kept growing and growing out of the 20-pound lapdog I was expecting convinced me that he was quite a bit younger than eight months when I took him home last May. He finally stopped growing in January, weighing in today at about 35 pounds.

His DNA results show he is 50 percent Siberian husky, 37 percent Shih Tzu, with some cocker spaniel, Maltese and miniature poodle thrown into the mix, which may be why he is convinced he is the lapdog I wanted.

Whenever I sit in my living room recliner, he shares it with me, lays at my feet when I am at my desk, and is a bed hog when he sleeps with me at night. We do have lots of conversations these days, as he is my only isolation companion.

He’s a better listener than most of my other friends, cocking his head to one side as if he truly understands what I’m nattering on about.

Both of us are extroverts who like people and animals. So, this isolation is not the easiest to endure. Thankfully we have each other.

available on Amazon

Bean Pat: Zimmy https://lithub.com/meet-zimmy-the-quarantine-dog-or-an-insane-response-to-an-insane-time/ This post was my inspiration for today’s blog. It’s cleverly written and funny.

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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The two memorable rapids on the Snake River below Jackson, Wyoming, are Kahuna and Lunch Counter. Kahuna was wild when the water was low and Lunch Counter was wild when the water was high, which meant we rafters always had a thrilling ride.

          “Life is like the river. Sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere.” – Emma Smith

          The year was 1983 when I found myself, for the first time, completely on my own. Two marriages, one of 22 years and one of only eight months, were behind me, while my five children had all left the nest and scattered, not just across the country but across the world.

I took both these photos from Lunch Counter — a couple of hours after our groups had passed through this same spot. — Photos by Pat Bean

The freedom turned me giddy, and searching for adventure. I had taken up skiing a few years earlier with my one child still at home. I loved it, but I was a chicken skier who sat down on the snow anytime I thought I might get out of control.

When my final child got married, I soon after followed suit, moving to Nevada, where my new husband and I both worked for the Las Vegas Sun. It was a fun time in my life – for eight months. After the breakup, I ended up as regional editor at the Times News in Twin Falls, Idaho, where I soon went on my first white-water rafting trip. It immediately became a passionate hobby that I indulged in for the next 25 years.

Within a month of my first rafting adventure, I had bought my own, six-person, paddle raft and every weekend, weather permitting, found me and friends floating down the Snake River between Hagerman and Bliss, Idaho.

It was a fun trip, with rapids big enough to thrill but not deadly, or so I thought until the day I forgot to check water levels before launching. It was the day that the irrigation water had been turned off and a resulting gigantic rapid flipped the raft and sent all the passengers scurrying for land — and a five-mile walk back to civilization.

That was the first lesson the river taught me: Never assume!

When I left Twin Falls, the regular summer rafting trips took place on the Snake River below Jackson, Wyoming. I also took two 16-dqy trips through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River — as a paying passenger in which I paddled the first time and was oared down on the second, which was a present to myself on my 60th birthday.

There was also a week-long trip down the Salmon (The River of No Return) one year, plus numerous day trips on other western rivers, including Utah’s Green and Idaho’s Boise and Payette. One mantra of those river trips, especially in the boat I captained, was self-rescue.

While everyone on the raft looked out for each other, everyone knew they were ultimately responsible for themselves. And on the few commercial trips I took, I always had to sign a waiver acknowledging that very same thing.

I came to realize that self-rescue was also a good life-management tool.

But I think the most important thing the rivers gave me, at a time when I desperately needed it, was the confidence to carefully decide on a path of action and then fully commit. There was no sitting down, or turning back, at the top of a rapid – just the thrill at the bottom to know you had faced your fears and done it!

Life, as we are all fully understanding now, has no safety net. I’m thankful for the guts the rivers gave me to live it.

Bean Pat: To all the health workers and everyone else out there who are helping others at the risk of their own lives, and to all those who are currently jobless and struggling to survive isolated at home in an effort to stop this pandemic.

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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