Early morning walk in Sedona

Sedona dawn clouds arizonaI started the walk before dawn, collecting clouds as I went. Wispy ones darted in and out of the red rock formations; others nestled in puddles after midnight rains. The pine needles had felted into heavy mats that softened the ground beneath my feet. They created soft nests for windfalls of storm-blown pine cones.

prickly pear cactusThe prickly pear cactus were loaded with buds of gray-green fruit that would swell to magenta chalices in the fall, luring families of javelina to gorge on the ripe fruit. I might walk down the road then and see scatterings of red seedy scat.

The Pyracantha were loaded with caper-sized green berries that would turn red later in the year, a bonanza for urbanized deer who would jump five-foot fences to gorge on the orange-red berries.

In the pre-dawn hush, the birds weren’t feeding, just quietly murmuring in the trees like a group of dorm buddies waiting for breakfast. The flies would wait until full sun, but the mosquitoes were active.  A red welt swelled on my wrist and I picked up the pace.

As the sun burned the morning air gold, a male cardinal swooped from a shaggy-bark juniper, its feathers a carmine red. In the scrub oak, a nearby rival acted serenely unimpressed.

Overhead, a phainopepla’s black-and-white wingtips flashed semaphore signals as it landed, bending the top needle-branch of a pinion pine.

 

The dog walkers hadn’t arrived yet, but one skinny marathon runner adjusted a knee brace and jogged painfully down the hill. I waved to early morning construction crews who were setting up for the day’s work. A scruffy bicyclist wearing a military green scrub cap, old T-shirt and cargo pants puffed heavily as he made the hill top. He gave me a grin of co-conspirators, out in these early hours.

sedona cat on wall

 

I shared the morning with the animals.  A calico cat jumped from a stone wall for a scritch behind one ear.  A gray Kaibab squirrel gleaned sunflower seeds from the feeder almost too high above its reach.  A cottontail rabbit elongated its hops into leaps as I grew closer.

 

I didn’t have to own anything to be a part of that glorious morning, and yet I felt immensely wealthy.

The whole world spread before me, free for the taking, when I slowed down and paid attention to the gifts the day offered.

A wealth of radishes

Saturday Morning Food CoopEvery other Saturday I make the trek to a close by town to harvest baskets of vegetables and fruit at my food coop. I put in my order on Monday, but it’s never guaranteed what will be there.

We follow the seasons: winter saw a lot of broccoli and winter squash; now I am seeing fresh sweet corn. The size varies: One time I got a ten pound butternut squash; this week the mangos are small and the zucchini enormous–just like you’d find in a regular garden.

You bring your own container, and pick up a basket of vegetables and a basket of fruit:

Food Coop Baskets

This week there was watermelon, Asian pears, bananas and mangoes; fresh sweet corn, asparagus, purple potatoes, endive, orange peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms:

basket close up

When I bring them home, Foxy has to sample. Who says cats aren’t vegetarian!

Cat eating vegetables

My challenge is to cook them all. Salad, of course. Vegetable broth for the leftovers. They sent along herbs as well this week: fresh basil, oregano, rosemary. My refrigerator is so fragrant.

food on table

Now the research and fun starts. Artichoke and endive? Egg plant? I’ve got some busy times ahead of me this weekend.