The magic of being still

Bow tie for the pond

Every now and then, nature presents us with a joke, if we are only receptive enough to catch it. Here, I found a perfect bow tie in the middle of the Dead Horse Park lagoon. Just waiting for someone to turn it around and paste it onto a beautiful package.

Or perhaps, it already was the ideal present, just waiting to be untied!

The universe is full of magic things patiently waiting for our senses to go sharper.
~Eden Phillpotts~

Growing older, cactus style

Picture of saguaro cactus

Isn’t this a great saguaro cactus? I found it in one of the mountainous parks in the middle of Phoenix. One of the marvelous things about that burg is that there are SEVEN mountain peaks you can climb, right within city limits. I’ve been up most of them, and they can be a tough scramble.

Back to the saguaro. Did you know they don’t even start putting out limbs until they are 50 years old? By that tally, I’d estimate this cactus is pushing a hundred–or more. Not moving, just standing there tough, watching the world go by. You’ve got to appreciate patience like that.

~Don’t give up!
Good things take time,
and you’re getting there.

~Anonymous~

Doing the hard thing

Lake in New Hampshire

In the summer the sun rises early in New Hampshire. I knew there would be something to see if I set the alarm and rose to greet it. But I’d flown across country the day before and spent a good part of the evening catching up with family happenings.

I didn’t want to get up. Even so, I stumbled out and discovered this.

Beauty will sometimes allow us to share in its fullness if we do the hard thing, the one thing we really would rather not do. The reward becomes worth the effort.

We live in a moment of history
where change is so speeded up
that we begin to see the present
only when it is already disappearing.

~R. D. Laing~

 

Odd man out

picture of 3 ducks on a pond

Two ducks deep in conversation. A third trying to horn in. The odd man out.

I was delighted to see Google list so many variants for this term: oddity, nonconformist, maverick, misfit, fish out of water, square peg in a round hole.

One by one I tried them on for this little duck. Definitely not a fish out of water. A square peg in a round hole? I don’t think so. But one term, maverick, definitely seems to fit. This duck strikes me as someone who speaks his own mind, who will not conform, no matter what the odds.

We all need to be that odd duck out of water sometimes. It’s good for the soul!

The cure for boredom is curiosity.
There is no cure for curiosity.
~Ellen Parr~

 

 

Everything vanishes if you wait long enough

Picture of Coffee Pot Rock, Sedona, AZ

One of the most famous rock formations near Sedona, Arizona is called Coffee Pot Rock. It is shaped like one of those old-fashioned campfire coffee pots that the cowboy cooks always used to keep at the ready, of course. What could be more fitting for this Western town.

I took this picture from an urban trail, located right in the middle of West Sedona. Later in the day there would be sightseeing helicopters buzzing over head and packs of tourists taking selfies. But just now, with the sun early up and the light still golden-wonderful, it was just me and the red rocks.

Coffee Pot Rock isn’t permanent, though. Just as the Old-Man-in-the-Mountain granite profile in New Hampshire lost its nose a few years back, this icon is slowly fading away, too. What you can’t see from this picture is a neat slice off the back of the spout of the pot, now lying crumbling at the base of the cliff. Nothing lasts forever!

Glance at the sun. See the moon and stars. Gaze at the beauty of the green earth. Now think.
~Hildegard of Bingen~

Sitting by the dock of the bay

Sitting on the dock at the bay

I arose early, seeking to experience the dock in the solitude of a Sunday morning.

Later, there would be boats moored to each side, and fisherman throwing out a line, and honeymooning couples strolling arm-in-arm along its length. But for now it was quiet, content, satisfied in just being.

Sometimes we feel like a dock, waiting for our ship to come in. But the wisdom is knowing that our future is already here inside, waiting to be discovered.

When one has much to put into them,
each day has a hundred pockets.

~Friedrich Nietzsche

 

 

Remaining Invisible

red-roofed forest cottage

What a marvelous tiny house this was, hidden in the forest ferns!

In my mind’s eye I miniaturized it like Alice in Wonderland, making it just the size for forest gnomes hiding among the rocks. I tried to spot them, patiently waiting for me to leave so they could go on about their daily business of forest dwelling. But they were very good at remaining invisible.

The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one has to do.
~James M. Barrie~

 

 

 

 

 

Slow down, you move too fast

Bosque del Apache

In the winter months, migrating Sand Hill cranes and snow geese flock to the area near Bosque del Apache, drawn by the water and forage.

If you are lucky, you can climb to the top of the observation decks and be surrounded by thousands of beautiful birds. It humbles me to think that these skilled aviators flew their migration paths long before we were here to establish preserves to encourage them.

The birds were there, in a field across from this water. But I paused here instead, entranced by the interplay of reeds, flowing currents and sky. In that moment, the solitude became a cradle holding me.

There is more to life than merely
increasing its speed.

~ Gandhi ~ 

Barreling along

barrel cactus

This is a commercially planted group of golden barrel cactus, also known as mother-in-law cushions. I know this because no self-respecting barrel would choose to grow this close to another, just like a wise mother-in-law (without the thorns)!

Barrels have a single blossom in the spring. You can see the remains here. What I like is their representation of both the short-term represented by the fading blossoms and the long-term potential of life. Living beings often grow slowly in the desert, taking time to put down roots. Under the right conditions, barrels live to be over a hundred years old.

These cacti remind me that we do not need a reason to exist–sometimes it is okay to just sit there and look beautiful.

Observe the space between your thoughts.
Then observe the observer.
~ Hamilton Bordeaux

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.