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Camino a las Nubes

Heading north on Castle Hot Springs Road, just west of Lake Pleasant Regional Park in northern Maricopa County.

Birds of My New River Exploration

In January of last year, I went for a bit of a hike, walk, or exploration in the greenbelt area where the New River desert water-feature flows.  It wasn’t a particularly thrilling adventure, but I was looking to experience something akin to wildness that existed within the suburban/metropolitan area of greater Phoenix…and found a bit of it here.

If you’re interested, you can go back in time by clicking here to visit the post that detailed the exploration.

I was expecting to see various plant life, hopefully a fish or two in the small stream,  but I was surprised when I found an abundance of bird life, especially the birds of prey.

The very first photo above may be of some type of finch (couldn’t find an exact match), the second may be a crowned or hooded sparrow, and the pretty bird in the photograph immediately above and below these words appears to be an American Kestrel, also called a sparrow hawk, reportedly the smallest falcon in North America.

The next three photos strike me as being of a Harris Hawk.

I thought the bird might be a Cooper’s Hawk, but it was too darkly colored.

It is also too darkly colored to be a Red Tailed Hawk.

So through the process of elimination, I have settled for the appellation of Harris Hawk.

Lastly, we have a Peregrine Falcon.  This guy/gal was not comfortable with anything resembling a “close” encounter, so I made the photo from “way far away” and thank the zoom feature of my camera for this fine little treasure.

As I mentioned in that earlier post, the physical setting for this New River exploration is equidistant between the NFL Arizona Cardinals’ stadium and the Glendale Municipal Airport.  I nice little retreat from civilization while nestled in the middle of it.

Thank you for visiting….

barbed-wire kisses

Somewhere between the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s, I was taking a creative writing class at a local community college.  One of the assignments was to write poetry…and I put together something about two lovers who could only meet at the fence of the jail yard where one of them was incarcerated.  All told, it was rather lame; kissing through the fence, etc., right, whatever; but the title remains in my memory.  It is refreshed, somehow, when I encounter the stuff again, the barbed-wire; it just pops to mind.

Anyway…sunrise along a high-desert highway in Arizona, 7/21/2019…there it is all over again…barbed-wire kisses….

portrait of a young christ

Not on a burned tortilla, grilled-cheese sandwich, or even in the faded paint on the side of an old weathered barn…but walking among us…sleeping under our same roof for almost 20 years…who knew…?

City Paint Phoenix 24 – Salt River Pima-Maricopa Woman

If you have been following the blog for some time, you might recognize the art/artist presented in this current installment of City Paint Phoenix.

The artist goes by the name of “El Mac” and he has painted murals all over the United States and across the globe.

I have shared images of his other works on at least six other occasions…which you can find by scrolling to the bottom of this page and clicking on the Category, “Street Art – Graffiti,” or by simply clicking on the highlighted link.

As you can read in this article in AZCentral.com, the image is based upon an actual person, a teenaged Native American girl who lives on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which is located just east of Scottsdale.

For those of you who live in, or are going to visit the Phoenix area, you can find the 45 foot tall mural on the southeast corner of the building at 111 W Monroe Street, just one block south of the better known Van Buren Street, and one block west of Central Avenue, in the heart of downtown Phoenix. There is metered parking on the north side of the building, but if you’re only going to be there for a few minutes, you could probably get away with parking in the alley on the south side, as I did. A security officer came out of the building to check on my truck parked in the alley, but he just smiled, said “Good morning,” and then walked away as he saw me with my camera admiring the mural.

El Mac painted the main feature of the mural and his friend and collaborator, Breeze, painted the decorative trim that we see in brighter colors surrounding the mural and extending around the building and down the walls.

And again…

After viewing the mural the first time and having taken multiple photographs with my phone, I purposed to return the next morning with my camera to make some “real” images, which I did.

I should also add that I left the scene that first morning with something of a lightness of spirit…like an inspiration or a feeling of calm…like it didn’t matter that I still had to go to work for eight hours and be stuck inside an office or talk to people with whom I really didn’t want to talk…it was okay. I was further touched each time I got out my camera during the day to look at the images again and again.

Maybe it was the serenity and hopefulness that I could see in the young woman’s expression…

…or maybe I was still awestruck from having been in the presence of a simple beauty that transcended even the need for words to describe it.

a flower in the trash**

A good friend and former coworker gave me an orchid plant a few years ago…four years ago in January, actually, when I returned to work after being out for a week when my mother died.

The plant was in a small dark reddish/maroon ceramic cup and had four broad, intensely green leaves and two vines or stems that were about six to eight inches long/tall and had anywhere from eight or ten flowers on each…I don’t remember exactly…

After a few months of “watering” it with crushed ice a couple of times a week, I found that I just couldn’t keep it watered enough and that the ice just melted and ran straight through the cup and the flowers wilted very soon and the broad dark leaves went soft and then stayed that way.

Not too long after that, I purchased a much larger pot and a bag of Miracle-Grow-infused orchid bark and repotted my little plant.  When I removed it from the smaller cup, I found that there were “tons” of root material curled into a huge twisted mass at the bottom of the cup, something that I sadly trimmed away and discarded in the trash…but it had to be done.

And now, four years later, I have seen a second plant grow up from the bark and sprout its own four leaves and two vines or stems with their many flowers, sometimes it’s hard to keep track of them all, 15, 18, 20….  My morning routine each day at work is to stop and greet the plant on the window sill near my desk.  I gently rub the dark green surface of the uppermost leaves, maybe rotate the planter to make sure the flowers aren’t touching the glass, and whisper “Hello,” something that seems silly as I type it here, but seems natural and only right when I do it every morning.  I think I probably perform this ritual to honor the plant’s life and the trust it must have in my routine to care for it…and to likewise honor the friend who gave it to me, his compassion and empathy, and to remember my mother, to acknowledge her continued presence and absence and all of the things I could and don’t say about that.

And it is now my weekly routine upon coming back to the office on Mondays to trim/pluck the flowers that have wilted over the weekend…and so we have this post. After I tossed the single flower into the trash a couple of weeks ago, went about my new morning at the desk, and then happened to look down into the trash. I was struck by the color and textures of the wilted body and leaves in its surroundings of the clean clearish-white trash bag…and was reminded immediately of some images that my blog friend, Lynn, has shared with us at Bluebrightly, particularly the ones of leaves and flowers pressed against the inside surface of a green-house’s windows or plastic tarpaulin partitions…the texture and form and light all combining to give us another micro-celebration of awe and wonder at the event and the artist’s eye and mind and heart to find it and capture it so.

**iPhound art

American Bison in Context

August 14, 2019 was the 33rd Wednesday of the year….the 54th day of Summer…and the 226th day of the year.  It was also Pakistan Independence Day…and World Lizard Day…six police officers were shot in Philadelphia on this day…and the Arizona Diamondbacks lost to the Colorado Rockies by the score of 6-7.

I was up from the desert to visit my Utah kids and to hike on Antelope Island…and to see a summer sunrise from a favored place.

It may seem odd to find American Bison on a large island out in The Great Salt Lake in northern Utah…but they’re there anyway and they create something of an allure to visitors from both home and abroad.

Wikipedia provides that there are between 550 and 700 individual bison on the island during any given year…and that, because of the lack of natural, non-human predators, the herd can increase by about 25% per year.

I saw 5-6 different groupings of the bison during my hours on the island that day…including this medium-sized collection and another one that I will share in a later post.

Commuter Sunset

I suppose one could say that it’s worth the occasional blinding sunset when heading west in the evenings after work…because of the occasional treasure one finds smack-dab in front of them on other days…..

iPhound art two nights ago….

Sycamore Canyon – presentation of trails

The first day of Summer last year, 6/21/2020, brought me back to a place that I had first explored on 3/29/2015, Parsons Trail in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area…which is located just north and east of Clarkdale, Arizona…which is a bit south and west of Sedona.

I left the canyon with almost six hundred photos after my first exploration…

…and brought home a bit under four hundred this last time.

So after browsing and examining the recent cache, I was able to whittle-down the presentable images to a few dozen…

…some of which I have already presented, here, and the remainder of which will appear in following posts.

Given that there were so many photos that I thought were “share-worthy,” I have separated them into the general categories of…

…trails, fauna, water, grass seed-heads…

…and one set of two images that will present the Sycamore Canyon version of Kermit….

It took roughly two hours to make it to the trailhead, some eleven or so miles beyond Clarkdale, from my house in the far northwest corner of Metropolitan Phoenix.

The very first image in this post was from the cliff edge where the trail drops from the trail-head parking lot into the canyon, at just shy of 7:00 am…so the sun was already up and well enough over the horizon to remove the shadows for a good portion of the canyon, but as you can see, was not sufficiently high to do so entirely…there was still a softness to the light in the canyon and a strong remainder of shadow to effect the images with a broader view.

In the eighth and ninth images above, to the right side of each, you can see raspberry bushes…a nice surprise for a high-desert, canyon hike.

Incredibly diverse plant life…just wonderful stuff.

The “focus” of this post is supposed to be the actual trail itself…a general subject of which I am quite fond…whether they’re winding through a mountain forest, through a “typical” desert range or flatlands, I find something very alluring about them; compelling, drawing, inviting….  In the below photo, you may notice that the trail is actually on the lowest level of the tiered rock just above the waterline…leading us back into the greenery…

…and this bit of trail takes us to the right of the fallen, sharp edged blocks, and skirting the cliff wall.  By the way, the sand that you can see in the foreground was finer than beach sand…almost dusty at that location…making for awkward and struggling foot steps.

Now going beneath aged cedar trees….

…and now pass along the flattened rock, again, taking us beyond another larger pond that has formed in the length of stream.

On the way back, now, in the below photo, with the sun full overhead…

…and welcoming the shade again, of the branching mesquite and other canyon trees…at just after 11:00 am.

And below…the price one pays for going north to hike on a weekend day…the drive back to the Phoenix valley…..

The wrecked juju or Zen aside, it was well worth the drive to hike in Sycamore Canyon again.  Thank you for joining me.