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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

 “Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.” – Stanley Horowitz

Spring at Lake Walcott, when it arrived in June, brought trees laden with pink blossoms. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

Most of Lake Walcott's many trees were still leafless when Maggie and I arrived at the park in mid-May. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Fall is coming to Lake Walcott. It’s early. This Southern Idaho park was still sleepy with the last breaths of winter when I arrived here mid-May. Most of the trees were still leafless and running my heater, at least at night, was a given.

The days, however, slowly begin to warm and before soon foliage blocked my view of the lake, while dandelions dotted the park’s manicured lawns with yellow and pink blossoms colored a tree just outside my RV, Gypsy Lee.

Spring lingered for a long time here. It wasn’t until July that I had to first use my air conditioner, and even then it always went off when the sun went down. August brought with the first days when temperatures reached the 90s, but still most days the mercury’s high only hovered in the mid-80s.

Rarely was there a day that wasn’t perfect for the long walks my dog, Maggie, and I took daily through the park.

` While so many parts of the country have been experiencing record-breaking heat, Lake Walcott has had an unusually mild summer. And now, just a little more than a week before I am leaving, it’s treating me to hints of fall. Within a 120-day period I’ve experiences all four seasons.

As I looked out on the Landscape surrounding Lake Walcott, at the frosty sagebrush now grown tall, and the rabbitbrush all aglow in autumn colors, I remembered to thank Mother Nature for her gifts. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I thought on this as I looked out on a landscape yesterday of frosty sagebrush, now grown tall in this high desert, interspersed with the fall display of golden-topped rabbitbrush.

I give thanks to Mother Nature for the beauty she gifted me. I also give thanks that I have eyes and a heart capable of appreciating her gifts. May it always be so.

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“Spring’s last-born darling, clear-eyed sweet, Pauses a moment with white twinkling feet, And golden locks in breezy play, Half teasing and half tender, to repeat her song of May.” –Susan Coolidge

Looking out over Lake Walcott on a cool day through tree branches that are just now beginning to green up. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

Today is the last day of May, and supposedly summer should be on the way. In fact, it was already being felt mid-April when I left my family behind in Texas, where yesterday they had temperatures in the 90s.

Here in Southern Idaho, yesterday’s temperatures were only in the 40s, but the weather gurus say it’ll be in the 60s today.

I think the birds, who have mostly been staying sheltered during the past few days of cold, wind and rain, might have heard the news as well. I was awakened by their blaring symphony outside my RV.

Barn, rough-winged, violet-green and bank swallows are making the landscape outside my window look as if it’s full of moving polka dots. Bright orange-chested robins are courting and building nests. Canada geese are already raising goslings. Western grebes are dancing on the lake. Common nighthawks are circling overhead in the evenings.

American goldfinch have already emptied my thistle bag twice. Killdeer are loudly squealing on the ground as they lead trespassers away from their nests in the grass. Starlings are going in and out of a hole in the self-pay kiosk outside my RV. Mourning doves are gobbling up the birdseed I threw on the ground. And brightly colored Bullock’s orioles are preening their puffed-out feathers.

I’m a happy birder.

It’s also been a delight the past two weeks to watch spring, which everyone says is quite late this year, come out of hiding.

A Bullock's oriole outside my RV in a cottonwood tree with his feathers all puffed up to ward off yesterday's wet coolness. -- Photo by Pat Bean

While the process happened almost overnight in Texas before I left there, the cool weather here has caused the change to take place in slow motion. It’s been a delight to be able to watch it in such detail.

Daily, I’ve seen leafless tree branches green up, beginning to hide the nests being built there by stick-transporting birds. I’ve watched as dainty lavender and yellow wildflowers have slowly peeked up through the grass, while the dandelions that came before them have shed their blossoms and are now scattering their puffy white seeds.

And now I’m going to walk Maggie and see what other wonders I’ll discover this last day of May. Life is good.

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I named the upper one Peter, as in Cottontail. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The view out my rear window looking toward the John Martin Reservoir Dam. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

NOTE: I’ve been taking my blog readers on a journey from Texas to Idaho with me as Maggie and I go down the road. But while I’m writing a mile-by-mile travelogue so readers can actually follow me on a map or Google Earth, I may take three days of blogging to describe one day.

The result is that I’m farther down the road than my blog, which has confused readers. I know because they’ve told me. To solve that problem, I’m now adding a footnote to any blogs that are about a specific day of travel that happened earlier in time.

For example, today’s blog is about happenings that took place this past Sunday, and the footnote reads: April 24, Day 6 of the journey.

Travels With Maggie*

I realized when I woke this morning at John Martin Reservoir State Park in Colorado that it was Easter.

And a lovely one it was. Hasty Lake was winking at me in the morning light, robins were searching for worms beside my RV and a pair of mallards were floating and quacking among the reeds along the shoreline. Did you know that the mallard is the only duck that actually quacks.

As I sat, drinking my coffee and reading the news, or as much of it as I could handle for the day, I had a couple of visitors. Most appropriate ones, I might add.

Two small cottontails spent about 10 minutes roaming around my RV. I named the larger of the two Peter, and thought about Thornton Burgess’ “Adventures of Peter Cottontail” that I had so loved as a child. He wrote 26 books about the beloved rabbit, and while I’m sure I didn’t read all of them, I certainly read quite a few.

And now, since I was alone, I sang as much as I could remember of “Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail, hippity hop ….”  I suddenly felt like a child again, and at my age that’s a good way to feel.

The tune was still going through my head when Maggie and I got back on Highway 50, which we followed west through several small rural towns to La Junta. Along the way, I noticed quite a few redbud trees just popping with brand new hot-pink buds

They looked exactly like the blossoms of the redbud trees that I had photographed in early March in Harker Heights, Texas. I laughed, thinking that summer was just around the corner when I had left Texas.

It was sort of like being transported in a time machine. First remembering my childhood reading habits and now here I was enjoying spring all over again.

Pat Conroy, one of my favorite authors, sums it up: “Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”

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One of two dogwood trees visible out my RV, shown in background, during my and Maggie's visit to my daughter's home in Camden, Arkansas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in in bloom.” — Terri Guillemets

 Travels With Maggie

When it’s bluebonnet time in Texas, the wisteria and dogwood are blooming in Arkansas.

The purple chandeliers of wisteria, a woody vine that likes to curl itself around a tree to rise into the air, begin dotting the roadside forest as soon as I crossed the border between the two states in Texarkana.

Then every few miles as I drove deeper into the state, a patch of white dogwood blossoms, usually sheltered by some larger tree, would add its delicate voice to the landscape.

These purple and white flowers helped ease the pain of leaving the magnificence of Texas bluebonnets waving good-bye from my RV’s rear-view mirror.

I arrived at my youngest daughter’s home here in Camden, Arkansas, a few days ago during a late cold spell and overcast days. The sun finally came out yesterday – and so did my camera.

Wild wisteria adds a touch of magical color to Arkansas' landscape. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Wisteria grows wild in the forested land that partially surrounds my daughter’s five-acre rural home, and two dogwood trees grow on her side of the fence.

Both Texas and Arkansas claim the sassy northern mockingbird as their state bird. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I thought I would share their beauty with you. For good measure, I’ve included a picture of a northern mockingbird that hangs around my RV. It’s a familiar sight in both Texas and Arkansas, with both states claiming it as their state bird.

Life is good.

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Freshly sprouted blossoms shout out their spring song. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“It is singular how soon we lose the impression of what ceases to be constantly before us. A year impairs, a luster obliterates. There is little distinct left without an effort of memory, then indeed the lights are rekindled for a moment – but who can be sure the Imagination is not the torch-bearer? Lord Byron

Travels With Maggie

Spring is bursting out all over!”

The song lyrics played joyously through my head this morning as I took my dog, Maggie, outside to do her business. The trees were budding, the dandelions were sprouting, a cool breeze stirred my hair, the squirrels were chattering and the birds were twittering.

Back at my desk in front of my computer, I was curious as to what musical from my past had been the inspiration for the song. I suspected it was “Oklahoma “but wasn’t quite sure.

Will I remember that it was a yellow-eyed great-tailed grackle I saw this morning, or will memory rename the bird a Brewer's blackbird? -- Photo by Pat Bean

I Binged, which is what I do instead of Googling, and discovered my memory had tricked me twice. The actually lyrics are “June is bursting out all over,” and the musical in which the song was featured is “Carousel.”

Memory is such an unreliable source.

This fact was made extremely plain to me when my children, now all grown and most with children of their own, began recalling past incidents in their childhood. Although all five of them may have experienced the same thing at the same time, each of their stories were different. More startling was that none of the tales fit my own memories of the events.

How could this possibly be? I still don’t know the answer, although I’ve learned a lot about human nature since the differing stories began being shared.

These memory quirks we all seem to share, however, have increased my appreciation for being a writer. Blogging daily in a public forum, which I have been doing since the first of the year, has become a way of making my life more tangible, to the point that sometimes things don’t seem real until I write them down.

And what was real this morning was that spring, not June, was bursting out all over.

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A bit disheveled, but I finally got myself back up from the creek, and Shanna even got a photo of Maggie and I together, which led to my sliding down the cliff. -- Photo by Shanna Lee

“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

Travels With Maggie

Rowlett, one of the many suburbs surrounding Dallas and where my oldest daughter lives, has been my home for the past couple of weeks. What with a grandson’s wedding, other family activities and a fenced backyard for Maggie, I haven’t taken my usually daily walks.

So it was with extreme delight yesterday when my granddaughter, Shanna, Maggie and I were able to escape for a stroll in Rowlett’s Springfield Park, which offers walking paths along a creek and around a lake. For the more adventurous, there’s also a narrow path through the woods that runs alongside a creek. Of course this is the one the three of us took.

A butterfly and wildflowers, evidence of spring bursting out all over. -- Photo by Pat Bean

As we hiked, I took photographs of wildflowers, butterflies, budding trees, great-tailed grackles and the creek. At one point along the hike, a huge gnarl of intertwined tree trunks caught my attention. I decided it would be a great spot for Shanna to take a picture of Maggie and me. Since I’m always the photographer, I don’t have any good photos of my canine traveling companion and me together.

Erosion, however, had cut a part of the path away that I needed to cross to get over to the scenic photo site. Over-estimating my athletic skills, I decided I could maneuver past it.

Bad idea!

One step quickly found me sliding down a steep eight-foot drop. Fortunately I was able to grab hold of a tree snag that counteracted gravity just about six inches before I would have ended up in the creek.

Shanna’s immediate response was to nervously ask: “Are you OK Nana. Are you hurt.” I wasn’t. The only casualty was my turquoise pants whose seat and one leg was a dirty brown. Maggie, whose retractable leash I still had in my hand, gave me a look that clearly said: “That was a stupid thing to do. Don’t expect me to rescue you.”

Since Shanna couldn’t reach me, it was a self rescue using snags to slowly haul myself up, always remembering to make sure I had three limbs firmly placed before I reached for a new hold.

The response from my granddaughter when I reached the top was: “You’re awesome Nana.” Her words made my fall well worth the effort.

Shanna also managed to snap a picture of Maggie and I just before I reached the top of the path again. It wasn’t quite the photograph I had pictured earlier, but I decided it was good enough.

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A front-yard daffodil tells us spring is not too far way. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“I wandered lonely as a cloud

That Floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd

A host of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the Breeze.”

   — William Wordsworth.   

I saw my first daffodils for the year yesterday. Five golden blooms had popped themselves up beneath a juniper tree.

“Quick. Take a picture. Before the deer eat them,” said my daughter-in-law, Cindi. “And then e-mail it to D.C.” The daffodils were still there this morning, however. The deer were evidently satisfied with the corn she put out for them. Like me, she worries about the neighborhood deer because development in this once rural area is destroying all their habitat.

D.C. is my son, the one who never wants a thermostat to drop beneath 78, but who is currently in Afghanistan, at a place where a frigid winter is still very much in charge of the landscape. While a picture of a daffodil might not warm his body, hopefully it will warm his spirit.

A field of daffodils in Cornwall, England -- Photo by Mark Robinson

Daffodils do that to people. It’s as if the energy that pushes up daffodils – sometimes through several inches of snow – is transferred from the golden petals to the human soul.

Camden, Arkansas, where my youngest daughter lives, hosts an annual Daffodil Festival, with this year’s event scheduled March 11-12. You might want to catch it if you’re anywhere nearby. If not, perhaps you can attend one of these other daffodil events:

       Annual Daffodil Parade, Puyallup, Washington, April 9

       Meriden, Connecticutt, Daffodil Festival April 30-May 1

       Gloucester, Virginia, Daffodil Festival, March 26-27

       Junction, Oregon, Daffodil Drive Festival, March 12-13

       Nantuckett Island, Massachusetts, Daffodil Festival Weekend April 29-May 1

       Fremont, North Carolina, Daffodil Festival, March 26

I could continue on for a while, but you get the idea. I’m not the only one who thinks daffodils are worthy of notice.

Have you seen your first one this year yet?

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