Don’t always believe what you see
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Don’t always believe what you see

I was attracted to this spot by a smell that took me back to childhood, the wonderful aroma of grape Kool-Aid. This is a Texas Mountain Laurel, or Mescal Bean plant, native to the southwest. And then when I got there, I discovered this amazingly beautiful butterfly, a black Pipevine Swallowtail. One gives pleasure to…

In the furtherment of enjoyable exercise

In the furtherment of enjoyable exercise

I found a whole wall at a hiking store filled with DIY dispensers for trail mix. My hat is off to the creators of the mixes, who must have had fun thinking up as many flavors as Jelly Belly jelly beans. The hike may be tough, but if you gotta do it, go in style!…

Enter the resourceful agave
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Enter the resourceful agave

The sharp tips of the giant agave are there for a purpose–to fend off predators such as javelina and hungry cattle intent on a juicy meal. Too bad somebody didn’t tell the spiders, who found the spines to be perfect tent poles for their webs. Or the wind, who discovered the web to be a…

What remains is precious
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What remains is precious

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…

Brilliant saguaros in the Arizona desert

Brilliant saguaros in the Arizona desert

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…

Tenacity of the vine
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Tenacity of the vine

This 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…

Book Review: Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

Book Review: Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

Louise 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…

The magic of being still
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The magic of being still

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…

My mind is like Fibber McGee’s closet
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My mind is like Fibber McGee’s 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…

These rocks, my friends
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These rocks, my 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…