What remains is precious

What remains is beautiful

In Arizona, both in the desert climate of Phoenix and at higher elevations like Sedona, pomegranates, those expensive jewels of the supermarket, thrive. I’ve seen hedges of pomegranate bushes, so full of delectable red fruit that the branches sink with the weight.

This one I liked, because the remaining fruit seemed almost a hand-carved bird feeder, serving up the sweet pips to all comers.

It reminds me that something doesn’t have to be whole and beautiful to be perfect.

The act of putting into your mouth
what the earth has grown is perhaps
your most direct interaction with the earth.

~Frances Moore Lappe,
author of DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET

 

Brilliant saguaros in the Arizona desert

saguaro cactus all in a line

Saguaro cactus are one of the trees of the desert. But if you have ever observed them closely, you’ll notice that they naturally space themselves out, keeping an almost exact distance between one and the next. It’s almost as though they were planted in a carefully aligned plot by an obsessive gardener.

Imagine my surprise when I found this line of saguaros, all edged up against the rocky cliff. They shouldn’t be doing that. Against the rules!

And then I had an epiphany. These cactus were doing exactly what they should be doing, growing where the water would run off the cliff and nourish them. They knew. I was the ignorant one.

I need to remember that. Sometimes the normal rules of what works and what doesn’t don’t work. It pays to be flexible.

After all, when you come right down to it,
how many people speak the same language
even when they speak the same language?

~Russell Hoban~

Tenacity of the vine

The vine in the rockThis was such a cool discovery! It is both a model of design, with all those zigzagging textures, and the actual event, a wisteria vine too stubborn to quit.

When the plant found itself blocked, it changed direction not once but several times. And it isn’t a young whippersnapper of a vine. Take a look at the thickness of girth–this plant has been here for years, patiently finding a path through difficult situations and creating beauty in the process.

As I grow older, things that were once easy for me are sometimes harder to accomplish. But I have grown in wisdom through my experiences. I have become the guru of “work arounds.”

My parents of pioneer stock would be proud.

You are never too old to set another goal
or to dream a new dream.

~Aristotle~

Book Review: Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise PennyLouise Penny is the author of a series of mysteries about the magical village of Three Pines in Quebec, Canada. She is a delight to read, and her books keep getting better and better!

The most recent, KINGDOM OF THE BLIND, has recently been nominated for an Agatha and a Lefty by the Left Coast Crime convention in the Western U.S.

KOTB is both a mystery and a celebration of community, as the members of Three Pines work together and eat together and look out for each other. When the blizzard blows fierce, they eat and drink and stay warm together. When it stops snowing, they dig each other out, and of course connect the snow tunnels to the local bistro!

There is an eccentric poet with a pet duck, an artist, a former psychologist who would much rather run a bookstore, and of course the glue that holds them all together, Armand Gamache, the head of security for Quebec.

What I liked about KOTB was the amazing contrast the author presented between this idyllic village and the absolute hell of addiction faced by dwellers close by, who would sell their souls for a taste of the deadly carfentanil. Gamache is faced with a dilemma of sacrificing the one for the good of the many, and he suffers the consequences.

Look for the many hidden references to the theme in the book’s title, and consider rereading it, once you have reached the end. THEN, all of the subtle hints will be revealed!

Well written with a twisty plot.

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~

My mind is like Fibber McGee’s closet

Fibber McGee's hall closet

When I was poking about in Jerome’s suburbs one day, I came across this old shack. The roof was still intact, although patched with tin. The windows were gone, but that didn’t matter because there were plenty of openings to let in the great views.

What struck me, though, were the myriad of things piled up in there, objects like tables and chairs and mirror frames that once had been useful and beautiful, perhaps cherished by strangers in years gone past.

It reminded me a lot of an old radio show that I listened to as a kid–Fibber McGee & Molly. The running joke was that Fibber had a hall closet, filled with stuff that he intended to clean out one day.

Sometimes my imagination seems a lot like this cabin or Fibber McGee’s closet. It’s full of memories and the clutter of everyday living that I can’t quite bear to get rid of–I might need them someday!

To invent, you need a good imagination
and a big pile of junk.

~Thomas A. Edison~

These rocks, my friends

Rocks as friends

These basalt boulders are at the Ensinoso Park in Oak Creek near Sedona. In low-water times of the year, there is a crossing here where the white water is. You can just hop from stone to stone to traverse the creek.

In the winter, their crevices become miniature caverns of ice. In the summer, their meeting-edge with the creek is moss-covered. Their shadows provide shelter for the new river troutlings each spring.

Over the years I have sat on their surfaces, dangling bare toes in the cold waters. They have become lifelong, enduring friends, these rocks.

Once in a life, a person ought to concentrate their mind upon the remembered earth, give themselves up to a particular landscape, look at it from as many angles as possible. They ought to imagine touching it at every season and listen to the sounds that are made upon it. Imagine the creatures there and all the faintest motions of the wind. Recollect the glare of noon
and all the colors of the dawn and dusk.

~N. Scott Momaday, Kiowa/Cherokee, winner of  the Pulitzer Prize~

Sometimes what you see is not there

Not a dead owl

At first glance, this appeared to be a tragedy: soft downy fuzz, longer tail feathers. Had an owl met its match with a bobcat? Oh, no!

And then I took a second look. Not tail feathers at all, but rather, Eucalyptus leaves. Not down but cottonwood tree cotton. Whew!

I like owls. And I like bobcats. I’m glad they didn’t meet here.

Silence is the absolute balance
of body, mind and spirit.
Silence is the cornerstone of character
and its fruits are
self-control, true courage, endurance, patience, dignity and reverence.

~Ohiyesa, Santee Sioux

The direction of light

holes to let the light in

We are used to looking straight ahead as we gaze into the distance. But sometimes it is useful to look up.

Here, a shaded walkway is transformed into a beautiful design of latticework that creates a dual pattern: looking up, looking down.

Light that speaks! An artist’s chiaroscuro dream.

Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt,
and poetry is painting that is felt
rather than seen.

~Leonardo da Vinci~

 

The Marie Kondo of the insect world

termite skyscrapers

In the desert, termite colonies thrive. It never gets cold enough to kill them, and sometimes there may be as many as twenty colonies in a yard–or under a house!

After a recent rain, I found these two Lilliputian skyscrapers in a stream bed. Although the water had dried out on the surface, underneath, there was just enough moisture in the earth to allow these tiny bits of sand to cling together when the termites carried them out of their home.

The efficiency of the termite colony is amazing. The insects carry the grains just far enough from the opening that sand doesn’t fall back into the burrow, thus building these tiny mounds. How do they know how to do such an amazing task?

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
~William Morris~