The color of beauty

Picture of blue and red agave

This red and blue-green giant agave plant calls the Thompson-Boyce Arboretum home. I often go visit this amazing place, about half-way between Apache Junction and Superior in Arizona. I find peace here, and plants that never fail to surprise me and enrich my life.

What I like best about this plant is its glowing diversity of color.The combination of hues, probably evolving to attract pollinating insects, lures me in as well!

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
~Robert Brault~

 

The kittens and the sunflowers

Picture of kittens in the sunshine

It was a western facing window in the afternoon. You can tell that by the sunflowers turning their faces toward the sun just as little Ellf was. Mac, on the other hand, was staring drowsily at the photographer, me. The two found comfort in the warm sun and in the closeness of each other. That was all they needed.

Perhaps we look too hard for happiness. Content lies often in those things the closest to our heart. Warmth, companionship, flowers, and…kittens!

It’s good to be just plain happy; it’s a little better to know that you’re happy; but to understand that you’re happy and to know why and how…to be happy in the being and the knowing, well that is beyond happiness, that is bliss.
~Henry Miller~

Why did I worry so much?

Picture of red geraniums and magenta petunias

I found this hanging basket in one of my favorite places in the world, Jerome, Arizona. Here magenta petunias hang out in perfect harmony with bright red geraniums.

When I was a teenager, I agonized over whether parts of my outfit color-matched. Red did not “go” with pink and definitely not with magenta! Since I’ve grown older, I’ve mellowed.

I’m reminded of a master gardener who once informed me, “ALL flowers play together, whatever the color of their blooms.” I agree!

There are moments when everything
turns out right.
Don’t let it alarm you: they pass.

~Jules Renard~

 

 

The cosmos in a feathered shadow

cosmos shadows

My father always grew cosmos in his summer garden. He would proudly bring a bouquet into the house and my mother would display them on our kitchen table in the same small glass vase each summer evening.

Although both my parents are gone, I still have the vase. And each summer I grow the cosmos of my childhood.

The name cosmos comes from the Greek and has two distinct meanings. One is “an ordered universe.” The other is “ornament.” I fancy that my modest cosmos flowers bring order to a universe that is often in need of ornament!

We have what we seek.
It is there all the time,
and if we give it time,
it will make itself known to us.
~Thomas Merton~

 

Dancing in the sunlight

red penstamen

Desert wildflowers are an exercise in impossibility and stubbornness.

They chose where they will grow, often in a mere handful of dirt deposited among the rocks by the spring rains.

And yet attempt to plant and grow these red penstemons, or beardtongues, in your own garden and they often will refuse to sprout, year after year. They rarely can be transplanted. They know where they belong.

We should consider every day lost on which
we have not danced at least once.

~Friedrich Nietzsche~

The setting of FIRE IN BROKEN WATER: Montezuma’s Well

Montezuma's Well

When I chose the setting for the third Pegasus Quincy Mystery novel, Fire in Broken Water, which centers around the ongoing Water Wars in Arizona, I knew parts of it had to be located at Montezuma’s Well.

The Well is surrounded with mystery and magic. Who expects to see this blue-green water in the midst of the high desert terrain of the upper Verde Valley? As you climb up 500 feet to the summit of the limestone sink, white-gray limestone cliffs are peopled with spare junipers struggling for survival, along with some spindly creosote and scrub oak.

In the spring, and later in the fall after the monsoon rains you’ll find a colorful display of desert wildflowers including yellow prickly-pear cactus, blue lupine, and orange globemallow. There’s  also a variety of birds: raptors such as the kestril and red tailed hawk, scrub blue jays, the black crested phainopepla, and tiny bushtit.

Once you reach the top, look over the edge into a blue-green lake. Montezuma’s Well was originally an underground basin, fed by freshwater springs. When the top collapsed, the Well was formed. It has Indian ruins around the inner edge and another cave down at the bottom, near the flow-through channel to Oak Creek below.

Perhaps because of the warm spring water (a constant high 70-degrees in temperature), the Well is home to five species of critter found nowhere else in North America, including a unique type of water scorpion. No fish, though, because the water is too high is carbonation–over 80 times the level of normal freshwater–and contains arsenic leached from the surrounding rock formations.

The depths of the Well have been explored by scuba teams recently, and their findings are fascinating!

 

The Well was named by early settlers, but was never seen by the Aztec leader Montezuma. However, it is held sacred by the surrounding Indian tribes. The Hopi call it “sun spring,” the Yavapai, ʼHakthkyayva or, “broken water,” and the Western Apache, “Water Breaks Open.” The last two refer to an unusual feature of the well, an underground tunnel, or swallet about 150 feet long that acts like the safety drain on your sink, allowing the overflow water from the well to pour out of solid rock into an irrigation ditch on the outside of the formation.

Montezuma Well swallet

 

There, the air is cool and moist–over 20 degrees cooler than on top–Columbines and wild watercress grow in the mossy waters.

 

 

 

Montezuma Well canal

 

At this point the water is diverted into an irrigation ditch over a thousand feet long, built Indian tribes centuries ago and still used today for cattle ranches downstream. The high limestone content of the water has coated the sides of the canal, similar to the sides of a swimming pool.

 

 

 

Here, take a walking tour of Montezuma’s Well to experience the stark difference between the arid land at the top of the Well and the moist-creekside environs at the bottom.

More than 90% of the springs in Northern Arizona have been lost as the result of underground pumping, too many wells depleting the ground water and periodic droughts. This sometimes sets neighbor against neighbor in the struggle between development and natural beauty. Montezuma’s Well dwells in the midst of this dispute, quiet and serene over the centuries.

 

Photo credits:
Top picture by Marine 69-71 at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
Remaining pictures of the irrigation ditch by: Dana Hunter and Fredlyfish4 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0