Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Reluctant Hiker

I dragged my feet the whole trip.
Reluctant to go to Arizona,
not excited about leaving home,
interested but not excited about the Grand Canyon.
Most of this quietly in my head...
but I did whine a little about the hike.
The sign described the hike as "difficult."
In NC, all hikes involve going up and going down
but a difficult hike usually involves climbing
over rocks and fording streams
and I wasn't feeling up to it.

It turns out the day at the canyon
ranks up there as one of the best days of my life
...and the hike, while we did make
a 1131 foot or 644 meter change in altitude
was a broad and easy trail
and we went only a mile and a half down
and took our time,
resting frequently on the heart pounding climb back up
and taking lots and lots of pictures all the way.

How many times have I been grateful
I didn't listen to my fear and doubt?
How many times have I absolutely cherished
a memory I almost declined to have?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Monday Again

Ah, it's Monday again.
Another weekend quickly past.
Gone to work to earn some money,
to contribute to the needs of people other then myself,
and to engage the world in general.

I'd rather stay home,
holed up,
playing in the yard.

I would love a month
with no place to go.

Weekends fly by too fast.
Suddenly meetings
and visits
and paperwork
and timesheets
and responsibilities
fill my time and take my energy.

But that leaves evening...
and the daily difficulty of not letting
the number of things I'd like to do
overwhelm the few hours
before I go
back to work again.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Hermit's Rest Ice Cream View

Hermit's Rest

Loved the last tram stop westward
along the rim of the Canyon.
Hermit's Rest...a simple stone building,
another lovely view,
and an ICE CREAM stand.
What more could a hermit want?

We sat on a bench,
eating our ice cream,
looking at the late afternoon canyon,
reflecting on a day's hiking and viewing.

I'm getting ahead of myself,
in this slide show of my vacation...
skipping all the photos from the major hike of the day
and all the great shots from the tram stops...
but Hermit's Rest was on my mind today.

I've been working on my own Hermit's Rest.
Weeded the garden last night,
sat on the back steps as night fell
and watched the fireflies flicker on the lawn and up in the trees.

Today, moved everything out of the front bedroom
and ripped up carpet.
Spent this last hour pulling staples
out of the old hardwood floors underneath.
This project was started in the hall and living room
last summer, and will conclude in the room
where I now sit, typing happily on the computer.
This room will be a pain in the butt to clear,
with desk and bed and file cabinets...
but ultimately worth it to uncover hidden wood floors.

Well, time to get back to staple pulling.
Still have to mow the lawn
this evening.

Friday, June 16, 2006

First Contact

No picture or video I'd ever seen
prepared me for the experience of standing
at the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
Pictures shrink the canyon,
cutting off huge portions of the view.
Seeing it first hand takes your breath away.
Deep, wide, vast.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Garden Note

Today in the garden,
dug the last of the turnip greens
from where they sat on their big purple turnips
and cooked them up with a ham hock.

Picked peas
and shelled them
as the turnips cooked
and the Simpsons made me laugh
on television.

Served turnips
and peas
and brown rice for supper.

Love the garden.
Needing some more rain....

National Monuments

I realized as I started to upload my pictures
that the news today celebrated
President Bush signing the paperwork
to declare the northwest Hawaiian Islands
a National Monument.
This will protect an area of ocean and islands
that totals more than our National Parklands.
Very exciting.
During our week in Arizona,
we visited two National Monuments.
The first was one of our nation's first National Monuments,
which, if I remember correctly,
was signed into being
by Teddy Roosevelt himself.
Montezuma's Castle National Monument
is a simple exit off the route
from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon.
Definitely worth the stop.
Cliff dwellings...the original high rise apartments.
Nothing to do with Montezuma
other than a later historical misunderstanding.

The cliff face reminded me of Qumran,
where they discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls, back in 1947 or so.
Birds nesting in cactus...
people nesting in cliff faces.
We make our homes where we will.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Be It Ever So Prickly

Be it ever so prickly,
there's no place like home.
The birds in Arizona build their nests
in the arms of the catcus plants I avoid.
Jumping through spines, the cactus wren
builds football-like structures out of grass
(and maybe a little toilet paper).

I realized as I hiked through the giant Saguaro plants
(pronounced suh-WAH-row)
that I always saw them drawn in cartoons
with a bird hole in the middle,
based on the reality of all those woodpeckers
who build their nexts
in the bellies of the giant cacti.
Some of them have so many holes
they look like a condominium.
Disclaimer: I noticed that the Saguaro near roads and at the end of paths, like this one, have many more holes than the average, so I think the holes pictured in this little armless dude may be as much the result of human target practice as bird nesting. But you get the idea.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wee Cool Hours

The secret to combating both
112 degree temperatures
and three hour jet lag...
just keep your usual schedule.

We got up at 4:30, which felt like 7:30,
and the temperatures were in the 80's.
Hiked the neighborhood
between 5:00 and 6:00.

Saw the beautiful colors of sunrise,
lots of animals and birds on the move,
and enjoyed being outside.
Hid in the air conditioning
as the dry air grew unbearably hot.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Chapter Two: The Human King of the Yard

There is also a human
who thinks he owns
this small walled-in kingdom in the sun.

The human, like the hummer,
hates encroachers.
Lately, there have been house finches
insisting on drinking out of the hummingbird feeder.
While the hummer guards from his tree,
the human guards from the house.
When house finches approach,
the human takes a pellet gun
and goes outside and fires warning shots
to scare the offending finches away.
No attempt is made to shoot the finches.
Just trying to get the message across,
you know.
So now the finches fly
when his hand touches the door handle.
But they return when he comes back inside.

This week the human's wife
took the birdfeeder inside
to wash it out.
A stream of water shot out of the top
as she rinsed out the sugar water.

It seems the human shot a hole
in the top of the birdfeeder.

Kindred spirits, he and his hummer.

King of the Yard

In Mesa, Arizona,
there is a walled-in back yard,
owned by a Costa Hummingbird.
He feeds at his feeder,
sits in his trees,
watches diligently for encroachers.
He chases the female hummer
out of the yard
several times an hour.

When the light catches his dark head
it flashes brilliant purple.
He's beautiful, and ever watchful.

I was amazed,
as I met this tiny despot,
how similar he was to the breed
of hummers we have in the east.

Same zoom, same watchful turning of the head,
same attitude of scarcity
and greed.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Back from Arizona

Well, it was something
like Star Trek,
visiting other planets
with strange landscapes,
plants and animals,
bizarrely hot and dry weather.

We stayed in Mesa, near Phoenix,
and visited National Forests
that seemed to have no trees
...only cactus plants.

We saw the Grand Canyon,
and took pictures every three minutes
so there will be plenty to share
in the upcoming months.

An adventure, and a good one.
But, oh, to be home,
where the heat is humid
and as far under 100 degrees
as Mesa was over 100 degrees.

So good to look out the window
and see green, green, green
leaves and grass and vegetables.

So good to be home.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Beach Pictures

These were taken a couple weeks ago
on my twice a year retreat
to Anna Maria Island
on the Gulf Coast of Florida,
south of Tampa.

Here's hoping a week in Arizona
is as renewing
as walks on the beach.