Meditation, awake mindfulness, occurs different ways for each of us. My attentiveness to the present moment is while quietly walking through a landscape and time. It can be a wetland, a grassland, a forest; I simply want to be in the now with minutes to use my senses and be present. Nature provides me with the place to move my body, lift my mood, and connect with the land.
Often I walk on paths thousands have also walked upon, but then I look across a valley and see land I wonder if anyone, person or animal, has ever walked upon it! I have great respect for the air, water, land and cultural traditions joined with my stewardship of the place where I walk.
My stress melts away while I am attentive to moments in nature with no judgment. While the flower, bird, butterfly, squirrel and rabbit are part of the local land, they offer me connectedness to the present place and moment. These mindful pauses with nature are powerful for me. As a result, I love my walking meditations!
Seven thousand feet elevation is slightly different than where we live, so we hoped to see different birds while on our hike. The ponderosa pine trees were majestic and wildflowers were beginning to bloom. We walked the Sandy Seep Trail uphill, about 1.3 miles, till it met other trails heading off in other directions. It is an out-and-back trail but we decided to hike a social trail back to the parking lot. At first, we did miss which social trail to take to return to our car. Thanks to the AllTrails app we knew exactly where we were and walked through a beautiful area observing birds, hearing an over-ambitious woodpecker hammering on a tree, and just before leaving the trail we saw a man on his horse. He seemed to be training his horse to not be startled by the lasso whirling by its head.
I was searching for a particular grebe. While I did not find the bird I was looking for, I did get to visit Sahuarita Lake Park in Sahuarita, Arizona, so I guess that was a plus. This manmade 10 acre lake opened in 2001 is enjoyed by many people. You’ll see people walking, fishing ….need a license… boating (no motor, and only sunrise to sunset) and enjoying the outdoor space. There are restrooms, ramadas and an outdoor amphitheater most likely used frequently when we are not in a pandemic. The lake is slightly more than a mile in length and 12 feet deep at the max, yet the fisherman are catching catfish, trout, bass and sunfish. Be sure to check what the fishing regulations are so you are not reported.
I did observe pied-billed grebe, ruddy duck, American coot and rock pigeon. In researching rock pigeon, I added a new word to my vocabulary: cere. Rock pigeons have this off-white deposit of calcified keratin protein above their nostrils where the cere meets the feathers of their face. I did not find the bird I wanted, but I learned something new today and know I will return to this area another time.
Often, I never know what I will discover when I go on some of my wanderings. I do ask myself if there is anything in particular I am searching for. And it is not always about birds, but life in general. Have you recently asked yourself what you are searching for? The start of a new year is a good time to do so, but not a necessity. Ask yourself, what are you searching for, and then go for it! Even if you do not find it, you may discover something else … and that is not really so bad, most the time! A new year can have some new looks! Take joy in the newness. Keep your life fresh!
I only took one photo of the park since I had a zoom lens on my camera for bird photography. But here’s a nice look while I stood along the walking trail about halfway down the side of the lake. If you are in the area of Sahuarita, Arizona, stop in. I wish you a safe and healthy new year
It’s an interesting piece of equipment on the bicycle loop in Tucson. It records the number of cyclists and pedestrians, which would include roller-bladers, joggers, runners, along with walkers all passing the counter each day and provides totals for the year. This is definitely one of the busier spots where people are on the loop. Kudos to all using this multi-use path! (You may even see some wildlife while out there. I bet the roadrunner wished to be counted!)
If I am going to be awake at 6:25am for a morning walk in this Arizona heat, then I want to see wildlife since I am past 5:25am sunrise photo opportunities! A hawk was seen at a telephone pole, but the gopher snake was of particular interest to me. They were a distance apart, but I did think … imagine the hawk swooping in to capture this snake! Darn, not today.
Anyway, this snake was on a mission crossing the road and slithering up the hillside of prickly pear cacti, ground squirrel holes and lizards running through the area.
I took a few photos, then returned a few minutes later to allow the snake to move along comfortably. The snake was still a distance from the lizard so I suspect it may remain in the area and have luck capturing another one.
I did not stay to watch them much longer as I had miles to walk before the temperature hit 85 degrees, knowing this was still cooler than the 106 degrees to occur later in the day. After a swig of water from my water bottle, I was on my way again. That was a good sighting; glad I was awake and here for it!
No matter how busy we are or not, it is time to pause and think: will we learn something, or anything, from our current state of affairs?
When we have notice of impending doom, will we prepare for it or will we nonchalantly envision no harm coming our way?
Will we observe, record, analyze and problem solve next steps to be taken to ensure our safety or scoff at and ignore scientists?
As of this writing I believe there will be a future. Yet let us understand we have other impending issues needing our attention, such as ending racial and economic inequalities and addressing climate change. These issues are important for an overall healthy people and planet. Today, many of us are staying healthy from Covid-19 thanks to following the science. And in time scientists will have, once again, a vaccine to help us save ourselves from another virus. We will be saddened for the lives lost most recently these past months. Life will go on requiring us to look ahead and act responsibly. I say this with hope in my heart.
The question is, will we have learned to act now on impending doom or will we wait and again be mired in the next issue with no leadership, losing lives, and only slowly wake up to the chaos beyond our control? There is no vaccine to cure racial and economic inequalities or the devastating effects of climate change. If we want to survive, we need to take action now on all these fronts. A magic wand does not exist.
Time to do more than think about it all. Time to register to vote and to vote in November. Time to write state and federal legislators, representing you, to always respect science, respect nature and respect each other. Simply put it would get us further in solving issues we have now and which are only getting worse with the passage of time. We need to be concerned about the mental and physical health of our people and planet. Or, there will be no future for generations to come to enjoy.
You may not be concerned about any of this happening to us today or in the future, but I am. If you are concerned, take action. I thank you and so will all those yet to walk this planet. It is time for action!
Most mornings I see hawks sheltering to one side of a telephone pole, no doubt out of the sun and hiding to watch for movement below. Rabbits have been scurrying!
One morning I noticed a hawk nestled in the pole’s shade while another hawk came flying in and was noisy. It was squawking up a storm and it would not stop! The hawk looked above at the squawking hawk and again when it was right next to it. I wondered if there was a territorial dispute happening between the two.
The hawk originally on the pole took off while the other looked surprised to see such action being taken!
The hawk flew to another telephone pole only to get into a squabble with a raven as it flew in to perch on the pole this hawk selected. Before I knew it, the two were in the air with the raven pestering the hawk. In a minute or so, the hawk flew to another pole, now alone from raven and the squawking hawk. What this hawk had to do for a telephone pole and quiet!
All birds now seemed content on their own pole. Nature, I just love it!
In 1774, Juan Bautista de Anza was helped by American Indian guides to discover a land route from Mexico to California. Various times in my travel I noticed Juan Bautista trail signs, and now I know it is an auto tour marking the more than 1200 mile historic trail from Nogales, AZ to Monterey, CA which includes many historic sites. In 1775, Juan brought about 240 people across the new frontier of New Spain from Mexico to California. With military escort and 1000 head of livestock, the journey took 5.5 months for the settlers to complete.
The settlers camped at some historic places I have visited, such as Historic Canoa Ranch – campsite #15, Mission San Xavier del Bac – campsite #17, and Picacho Peak State Park – campsite #21. Someday I will visit other historic sites on this national historic trail. I walked a couple of miles of the trail in the Rio Rico area beginning at the Guy Tobin Trailhead.
A short distance from the trailhead there is a chained gate. It was a local man, Guy Tobin, who had the foresight and public support to contribute land and establish a 13 mile segment of trail from Rio Rico to Tubac. He worked with the Anza Trail Coalition and National Park Service. Guy Tobin died in 2008 and a few months later the trailhead was dedicated to him. In 2011, Friends of the Santa Cruz River and Tucson’s Watershed Management started a year-long project constructing rainwater harvesting features at the trailhead.
Once upon a time, there were Mexican wolves and jaguars here, but now one may see bobcat, coyote, javelina and mule deer. I was happy to photograph this mule deer!
It is a very sandy trail with plenty of birds singing in the trees. The only flower I saw was the southwestern prickly poppy.
It was a wonderful place to escape everyone and have a trail almost to myself. I saw 2 people the entire time!
In Pima County, Arizona, a park for all … who knew?
The east end of Speedway Boulevard in Tucson, Arizona ends at Douglas Spring Trailhead, but I wondered what about the west end? So I drove to this end of Speedway Boulevard, took a right turn on N Camino De Oeste and discovered Feliz Paseos Park! Needless to say this was my first visit.
I was most impressed with the trail signage. The directions were easy to understand and information provided more details than I ever expected. When home, I learned this private-public park’s goal was to have a universally accessible trail system. That explained the trail signs noting the grade and cross slope of each trail whether it be gravel or paved. Recognizing the special needs and capabilities of people with disabilities is a huge accomplishment and hopefully a model for other communities.
I enjoyed my visit and had a couple of instances to capture a photo, yet the black-tailed jackrabbit ran off before I could get a photo. Thanks to signage along the trail I learned the names of more plants and animals too. Today’s photos: black throated sparrow, cactus wren, saguaro cactus and a coyote was seen as I was driving out from the park. (And a sign of that jackrabbit that got away from me!)
Someday I will return to this park. I love the fact this park is close enough for all to visit and with trails all can handle along with quite a variety of wildlife to be seen.
I wish I photoed a tarantula; not yet! I will keep my eyes open for the 3-4 inch tarantulas that grow here in the Sonoran Desert.
I did walk past a tarantula’s web the other day, but no 8-legged creature was seen by me! Tarantulas are nocturnal hunters and spend a lot of time in their burrow so I guess I am not surprised to not see one.
Desert tarantulas live in a deep burrow and line the entire floor of their enclosure with silk and surround their entrance with a silken “welcoming mat”. Tarantulas do not have great eyesight so the “welcoming mat” helps when it vibrates like guitar strings, yet it is not for capturing prey. Unlike other spiders with webs to catch insects, tarantulas take on an active approach to feeding by subduing and killing the prey themselves. When the tarantula is alerted to the presence and location of the intruding beetle, grasshopper, small lizard or mice, it will attack and kill by injecting venom through its fangs into its prey. Since they have no teeth, it is the venom that liquefies the prey and the tarantula uses its sucking stomach to draw in the meal.
Who keeps the tarantula population in check? Coyotes and foxes.
There are 4 dozen species of tarantulas in the USA and Mexico, so hopefully at some point I can capture a photo of one. In the meantime, keep an eye open for more “welcoming mats”!