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Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Mother Nature Does it Best

Looking down at a small pond filled with reeds and stuff at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Looking down at a small pond filled with reeds and stuff at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. — Photo by Pat Bean

 “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but Nature’s sources never fail.” — John Muir, Our National Parks

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: The National Parks: America’s Best Idea  http://www.pbs.org/  Don’t miss this Ken Burns film that begins tonight on PBS

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Fresh Eyes

             “The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time.” – Bill Bryson

Some days I look out from my bedroom window and see a Cooper's hawk or a great horned owl sitting on a branch in a nearby tree. Or I look down and see a black cat peering up at me from an apartment across the way. Each viewing in a first for the moment.

Some days I look out from my bedroom window and see a Cooper’s hawk or a great horned owl sitting on a branch in a nearby tree. Or I look down and see a black cat peering up at me from an apartment across the way. Each viewing in a first for the moment.

Seeing Things in a Different Light When I travel, I look at things differently. I think it’s because I expect to see something new that I’ve never seen before. The world always seems more interesting when I’m on the road.

Sunlight streams into my apartment on only a few winter days. But each day it flows in, the patterns are slightly different in the view I have from my kitchen. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Sunlight streams into my apartment on only a few winter days. But each day it flows in, the patterns are slightly different in the view I have from my kitchen. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m coming to realize, however, that travel is not a requirement for this to happen. Do the Catalina Mountains, which  currently provide the backdrop to my days, look different to a traveler seeing them for the first time? Would the crisp white blossoms of a saguaro cactus spell-mind the eyes of a traveler more impressively than they do my own eyes that have now been among them for two seasons? While travelers may only see the mountain range on a sunny day, or a misty day, or a rainy day, the joy of first sight can’t help but pump the adrenalin through the veins of any nature enthusiast. I envy those who are seeing these mountains for the first time, as I recall my first view of the Catalinas. . But now I’ve now been blessed to see this mountain range in its many moods.  I’ve watched the rocky mammoths as the morning sun crowned its peaks in a golden light, I’ve seen it as the evening sun has turned its rocky cliffs a glimmering rose hue, and I’ve seen it frosted with the sugary granules of snow. I’ve watched as globules of bright green atop a saguaro plant have opened into a disk of white petals with a pale ochre center. A traveler passing through the saguaro’s Arizona home in March might only see an awesome, statuesque cactus with arms stretching skyward, and might not know that such a beauty is likely to be 100 years old, or that it wears a headdress of white blooms in late May and early June. There are as many advantages to watching the passing landscape while rooted as there are in catching glimpses of Mother Nature’s wonders on the fly. One only has to retain that sense of awe so easily achieved at first sight. I suspect that in this late-blooming season of my life, there are still roads out there I will travel.  But in the meantime, I plan to follow Bill Bryson’s advice and try to look at the world around me be as if for the first time. I don’t think I will be disappointed.           

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Monica Devine http://tinyurl.com/ot8bqdb This blogger has an eye for seeing things in a new and exciting

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A white=breasted nuthatch defying gravity. -- Wikimedia photo

A white=breasted nuthatch defying gravity. — Wikimedia photo

             “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates

From Mother Nature

Recently I watched a white-breasted nuthatch walk up and down a tree trunk. Its antics, for some unknown reason, brought to mind my tree-climbing antics when I young and nimble.  My favorite tree was a large chinaberry that grew in my grandmother’s untamed backyard. The tree stood at the rear of her property, just in front of a huge field of wild blackberries that I collected each year.

I wonder what nuthatches think about hen they are watching people? Don't you.  -- Wikimedia photo

I wonder what nuthatches think about when they are watching people? Don’t you? — Wikimedia photo

There was a large rock beneath that tree, which I used as a first step to get high up in the tree. When the leaves were in full bloom, I would hide from the world, and dream of being a circus acrobat.

I especially enjoyed collecting the tree’s hard, green pea-size berries, as they were excellent ammunition for the nightly neighborhood kid skirmishes when sides were chosen and war was initiated.

Then one day, I discovered a large rattlesnake coiled on the rock I used to boost myself up into the branches of that tree. We both scurried away. The snake was most likely as afraid of me as I had been of it. But I never climbed that tree again.

These berries from a chinaberry tree were often the ammunition for neighborhood kid skirmishes when the fireflies came out at night. I would hide behind something and throw out a handful when an unsuspecting victim passed by, usually the pesky boy next door, .

These berries from a chinaberry tree were often the ammunition for neighborhood kid skirmishes when the fireflies came out at night. I would hide behind something and throw out a handful when an unsuspecting victim passed by, usually the pesky boy next door, .

Now, many, many years later, as I watched the nuthatch defy gravity as it walked up and down the tree trunk, I thought about how fear paralyzes people from enjoying life. My bone-chilling meeting with that long-ago snake had deprived me of a favorite pastime.

But, thankfully, time taught me to fear the snake when it was where I would place my foot, but not to fear it when it wasn’t there. It was a well-learned lesson that gave me many years of freedom in the outdoors and the courage to face the unknown unafraid.

I wonder if that old chinaberry tree still exists, and if a nuthatch ever played in it? (more…)

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Most people who ask for advice from others have already resolved to act as it pleases them.” – Khalil Gibran.

Of course when I hiked the benches of Mount Ogden in Utah, I wasn't exactly along. I always had Peaches or Maggie with me. Peaches would have torn the limbs off of anyone who tried to harm me. But, Maggie, who is shown here, would have been hiding behind me for protection.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Of course when I hiked the benches of Mount Ogden in Utah, I wasn’t exactly alone. I always had Peaches or Maggie with me. Peaches would have torn the limbs off of anyone who tried to harm me. But, Maggie, who is shown here, would have been hiding behind me for protection. — Photo by Pat Bean

It All Depends

This is a photo my daughter shot while riding alone in the desert. -- Photo by T.C. Ornelas

This is a photo my daughter shot while riding alone in the desert. — Photo by T.C. Ornelas

I’m not a fan of giving advice – or getting it for that matter. I cringe when all but my youngest daughter asks me for advice, especially in areas in which I’ve made mistakes – and that covers a about a jillion areas.

And the only reason I don’t mind giving my youngest daughter with neck problems advice is that I know she won’t take it. I guess she takes after me. I can’t think of hardly any advice given me that I didn’t distain in favor of the hard knocks of experiencing things for myself.

Besides, over the years, I’ve learned that sometimes good-intentioned advice is not in my best interests. The best example is the frequent advice I was always getting not to hike the benches around Ogden alone.

coyote

And this is one of the coyotes that have followed her. — Photo by T.C. Ornelas

If I had followed that advice, heeding the fears of others, I would have deprived myself of some of the most soul-filling moments of my 25 years of living in Northern Utah. Knowing this is what keeps me from telling my youngest daughter not to ride her horse along in the desert, where coyotes trail her path.

For some of us, having our alone time in nature, is absolutely necessary for maintaining sanity. It was for me when I had daily newspaper deadlines to meet. And my daughter is a working mother, who raised three daughters and is now raising three boys, including two teenagers among them.  Talk about needing to hold onto saneness.

I also didn’t follow the advice of all the financial gurus who told me how much money I needed to retire. Instead I’ve spent the past 10 years, nine of them  traveling – alone – full-time in an RV across this vast country, perfecting ways to get by on much less than the gurus claimed I needed.

Recently, I’ve been checking out advice for getting my book, Travels with Maggie, published. Advice for this seems to be just about around every corner — and in the tradition of writing advice, the various suggestions are often contradictory.

But this morning, I read the best piece of publishing advice I have come across since I started researching the issue. It was offered by Chuck Wendig, author of “Kiss –Ass Writer.” The first step, said Chuck, is “write something great.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a better piece of advice, or one that I will try harder to follow.

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat:  Winter’s Heartbeat http://tinyurl.com/nxuqj55  This blog might actually make you not want to chase away the cold.

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Beautiful and Thorny

            “Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr

Pink and yellow and thorny. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Pink and yellow and thorny. — Photo by Pat Bean

It’s a Good Combination

When you’ve reached the seventh decade of life, you begin to notice patterns: The sun comes up and goes down every morning, even if its hidden by clouds; women are attracted to men with a bit of wildness in their character — and then expect to tame them; and being too nice a person usually means one ends up getting taken advantage of even by good people.

How many times have you been pricked by a rose bush thorn? -- Photo by Pat Bean

How many times have you been pricked by a rose bush thorn? — Photo by Pat Bean

The latter is because people treat us the way we allow them to treat us. It took me way too long to discover this fact.

But I finally noticed that prickly people – I’m not talking cantankerous or mean here – get along well in life. Perhaps it’s because most of us prefer a bit of spice instead of too much sugar. If I hadn’t been so intent on ignoring everything about my mother for so long, I might have come to this conclusion much earlier in life. She could be a bit snarly at times yet, I was astonished to see, my kids adored her.

This prickly business seems to be a natural part of life, especially when it comes to nature. Some of the most beautiful flowers have thorns. I wonder if that’s to protect them, or to make us work a bit to enjoy them.

That’s another thing the years have taught me. Nature has a lot of good advice to give if I will just open my eyes to see it, and my mind to accept it.

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Delicious Autumn  http://tinyurl.com/ll8s442  This looks exactly how I like to travel. Perhaps I’m getting homesick for the road

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    “Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.” – Henry David Thoreau

Mother Nature used the rain to paint this canvas of wet and dry gravel pattrns. My apartment is at the top of the stairs yu see in the background. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Mother Nature used the rain to paint this canvas of wet and dry gravel pattrns. My apartment is at the top of the stairs you see in the background. — Photo by Pat Bean

Morning Walk with Pepper

It was lightly drizzling this morning when Pepper and I took a walk while dawn made her presence known. This is my favorite time of day, and as usual, Pepper and I  had the apartment complex courtyards to ourselves.

This is a close-up of the lavender blossoms on the bush next to the tree, which a gardener neatly trimmed. I can't help but wonder how many  blossoms were lost to the trimming tool. -- Photo by Pat Bean

This is a close-up of the lavender blossoms on the bush next to the tree, which a gardener neatly trimmed. I can’t help but wonder how many blossoms were lost to the trimming tool. — Photo by Pat Bean

Some mornings we leave the manicured grounds and take the short trail beyond the parking lot ,so as to glimpse a view of the unfettered desert in  its many moods. But not this morning.

Today, we simply walked the path we walk several times a day, keeping our eyes open to the world around us. Well, I keep my eyes open and Pepper keeps her nose open. Like most dogs, she sees more through smell than I see through my eyes.

Her nose lets her know there is a lizard hiding beneath that rock over yonder, and that Ellie, a favorite German shepherd playmate, peed beside this tree. Of course she pees on top of the spot to let Ellie know she’s been here, too.

My eyes, meanwhile, take in a canvas painted by the rain. It’s the pattern of wet and dry gravel beneath a tree just outside my apartment. I don’t have my camera with me, but after our walk I retrieve it and go back down from my third-floor apartment to capture Mother Nature’s whimsical drawing – well that’s how I see it.

And then I realize that it can serve as my point of view for the week’s photo challenge.

Bean’s Pat: Hoof Beats and Foot Prints http://tinyurl.com/nz6fu4o This is a blogger who also takes time to capture the simple things that can be found in a day, when you take the time to look.

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“Don’t taunt the alligator until after you’ve crossed the creek. – Dan Rather

Wheeler Creek, up Wheeler Creek Canyon near Huntsville, Utah. — Photo by Pat Bean

And a Shady Spot to Sit 

Burch Creek as it flows down from the mountains above Ogden,Utah. — Photo by Pat Bean

I like nothing better than to find a shady spot next to a frisky stream. It brightens even the best of days.

And I’ve found dozens of just such places in Utah, where this native Texan was fortunate to live for almost a third of her life. I thought I would share a couple with you.

I hope you enjoy the photos. But it would be better yet, if you would find your own babbling stream where you sit and let it talk to you for a while.

Book Report: Blogging late and quick because I spent the morning writing on Travels with Maggie, which is now up to 41,639 words.

The wondering wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Eric Murtaugh http://tinyurl.com/9lhy3as Who do you think you are anyway? I love this blog, and this blogger. But he names himself properly in this column when he calls himself an intelligent donkey’s behind. One of my models for my travels was Frank Tatchel, author of the 1923 book, “The Happy Traveler,” who said: “The real fun of traveling can only be got by one who is content to go as a comparatively poor man. In fact, it is not money which travel demands so much as leisure and anyone with a small, fixed income can travel all the time.”  Eric sounds to me like a modern-day Tatchel.

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 “The man who never alters his opinion Is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.” William Blake.

These flowers bloomed while I was gone. There were big bunches of them all along a short section of the bank in the upper tent campground. — Photo by Pat Bean.

Life Goes On

And the milkweed plants, which the butterflies love, here at the park went from this … — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m Back now at Lake Walcott, after leaving for four days to fly to Texas for a granddaughter’s wedding. I had a marvelous time. I got to see a new great-grandson, now almost seven months old, for the first time. And I’m still feeling the love from all the family hugs I received.

Homecoming, when it involves loved ones, is always sweet after an absence. It’s a benefit that helps make up for the distance my chosen on-the-road life and the scattered residences – from Texas to Florida, Illinois to Arizona, with Argentina thrown in for good measure – of my children and grandchildren.

But while I was gone, this southern Idaho state park where I’m volunteering for the summer continued its ever-changing life cycle, welcoming me back with new wonders.

My hummingbird feeder was empty and the bird seed feeder, which I had filled to the brim before taking off, had only a few sunflower seeds remaining in it. I had left both full, not wanting to disrupt the continuity of the birds that visit my RV site.

A black-headed grosbeak and an American goldfinch – a study in orange and yellow – were at the feeder when I pulled in. It was the first grosbeak that had visited and I was delighted to see it. I suspected that the Bullock’s orioles had emptied the hummingbird feeder as I’ve only had a few hummers visit this year.

Black-headed grosbeak — Wikipedia photo

My first walk around the park after being back was full of changes too. Along with coming across branches that had blown down from the weekend storm I missed, I noticed that the milkweed had matured, and that some bank plants had come into bloom while I was gone.

It was fun to see the changes, which so often are missed on a day-to-day basis. Life goes on where ever one goes.

Bean’s Pat: Katmai National Park http://tinyurl.com/765d97z Fishing bears. I couldn’t resist sharing this. Blog pick of the day from the wondering wanderer.

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 “It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here.” – Edward Abbey

Always the Same But Always Different

 

I often sit on this bench to watch birds. The area is a favorite hangout of western kingbirds and Bullock’s orioles. — Photo by Pat Bean

Before I became a full-time wondering wanderer, I enjoyed the familiarity of my frequent hikes on the benches of Utah’s Mount Ogden, whose shadow stretched down to touch my pleasant home.

From day-to-day, season-to-season, year-to-year, I got to watch the same landscape in its different moods and growth. It was an awesome experience.

While I truthfully tell everyone the only thing I miss since paring all my belongings down to fit into a 22-foot long RV is my bathtub – showers have just never been my bathing choice – I’m beginning to think I also miss the continuity of watching one particularly landscape change on a daily basis.

My volunteer position as a campground host here at Lake Walcott State Park for the last three summers is what started me thinking about this. I walk all around this park daily, several times in fact since my canine traveling companion, Pepper, needs an outlet for her energy. And I never tire of seeing the same landscape over and over.

Today the lake is mirror smooth, and so provides a canvas for the landscape to paint.

Part of that is because it’s ever-changing. The slant of the sun, the shadow of a cloud, the arrival of the nighthawks, a new flower opening its petals, the mirror smoothness or crashing waves of the lake against the shore, all this and much, much more add variety and delight to my walks.

Edward Abbey got it right. It’s as important to enjoy the land as it is to protect it. The first, I suspect, will make us fight all the harder to accomplish the latter.

Bean’s Pat: Life in the Bogs http://bogsofohio.wordpress.com I chose this blog as my pick of the day because its author/photographer frequently posts pictures of the same pond in its many moods. I never tire of seeing her pond day after day.

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“More than anything else, I believe it’s our decisions, not the conditions of our lives, that determine our destiny.” – Tony Robbins

 

Killdeer abound here at Lake Walcott, but I usually see them on the shore, where they dart around too quick for me to photograph. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

Slow Down Pepper

With my birding binoculars around my neck, my point-and-shoot digital camera in the pocket of my campground- host vest, and my canine traveling companion, Pepper, tugging impatiently at the end of the leash I’m holding, I headed out this morning for a walk around Lake Walcott State Park.

One of the many bunnies that calmly stay just outside of Pepper’s reach. — Photo by Pat Bean

There will be more walks to come during the day, a necessity when you need to burn energy off a seven-month-old terrier mix — but the morning one is always my favorite.

No walk is the same, and each walk brings me some new delight – and occasionally not, like three days ago when a swarm of gnats found us and followed us the rest of the way home.

Today’s walk, however, was perfect. It began with the overhead flight of a lone white pelican, whose white feather’s sparkled against a backdrop of blue sky. The pelicans mostly stay outside the park, preferring to fish in the Snake River below the Minidoka Dam that holds the lake in place, so today’s air show seemed special.

The mullien is just starting to bloom. — Photo by Pat Bean

Pepper, meanwhile, was more interested in the two bunny rabbits that frequent the lawn by our RV, tauntingly staying just beyond her reach. The robins and the killdeer here at the park tease her the same way, and today was no different. I’ve learned to keep a firm grip on her leash.

This morning is cool and breezy. The lake, however, is mirror smooth, the perfect reflective surface to capture the vibrancy of overhanging trees and the upside-down images of the flock of geese that are hanging out near the boat dock.

A lone nighthawk circles overhead, passing in front of the pale white moon, with only a sliver missing, that is still visible in the morning sky. The sight adds an extra touch of magic to the morning, and I feel my body relaxing into the moment.

Barn swallows swoop along the banks. A great-horned owl hoots in the distance, and mourning doves coo a reply. No human symphony ever sounded better to my ears.

One day a golden dandelion, the next a fluff ball of seeds waiting for a breeze to blow them to their new digs. — Photo by Pat Bean

Pepper is interested in everything, darting here and there. She lunges at a butterfly, chases a fallen leaf, sticks her nose in a ground hole, and plunges through a puddle left behind by the sprinklers. She’s getting better at knowing how far she can run before hitting the end of the leash – and has already learned she can run full-out if she does it in circles.

I tell her to slow down, to enjoy the moment. Her tiny pink tongue lolls, and her eyes dance with excitement.

Slow, I realize, is not in her understanding. But at least she’s enjoying the morning —  as am I.

Bean’s Pat: Chicks With Ticks http://tinyurl.com/6nlun9e Oaken Earth Mother. Blog Pick of the day selected by this wondering wanderer, tree-hugger.

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