Thoughts of My Dad

Ever have a small something or other trigger a thought or memory of someone? Today would have been my Dad’s birthday if he had not passed more than 5 years ago. I think of him often and love wearing some t-shirts and flannel shirts of his. There are times I imagine how he would have coped during this pandemic. He probably would be reading his Chicken Soup books or history books, sitting and watching birds in his backyard, watching TV sports, and/or puttering around outdoors or in the basement with some project. He’d want to be sure he had his coffee, milk, sugar, crumb cake and cigarettes, and would have cooked a turkey and his famous stuffing when safely possible for those attending dinner with him and my Mom (who currently continues to live a healthy life).

The photo attached with this post is not my Dad. This man though reminded me of my Dad: blue jeans, baseball cap, sneakers, sitting by a water’s edge and relaxing … but my Dad would most likely be drinking his 3rd cup of coffee, not soda or beer. My Dad was a quiet individual, but he and I could talk about issues. He would be as distressed, as I am, about people being so cavalier about the health and safety of others during this pandemic. He and I could have talked now about the Black Lives Matter movement. I recall asking him why certain friends could not visit us in the late 1960’s in Pennsylvania. He told me it would not be safe for them to visit and explained the need for racial equality. He and I could have continued our talk about the environment and climate change, reminiscing on our 1970’s discussions about alternative sources of energy. My Dad and I would now be comparing eastern birds with western birds as we each observe birds throughout the year from our homes and asking the question, do we see less birds than 50 years ago. No doubt, I would have called to ask how to fix a particular thing as he was always handy in providing me detailed directions and possible solutions.

There have been times this past year I wished I still had my Adirondack shack, all 600 square feet of it to escape to during this pandemic! My Dad helped me install a bay window where 2 smaller windows were, build an outhouse because there wasn’t one, and set up rain gutters to collect water in a 55 gallon drum since I had no source of water. It truly was a rustic place few people enjoyed, but I loved it. It did not bother me to sleep in a winter sleeping bag. It was a luxury when Dad and I added a small wood stove to the place, which already had an oil heater. My shack of 26 years was on the best 2.5 acres of land. Just down the road with a 4 mile hike to a local lake is where I saw my first loon!

It’s interesting how a particular scene can trigger memories. My Dad lived a long life and is surely missed. I am glad also to have so many more memories of him! Fortunately our mind and heart allow us to have such strong memories and feelings! For that I am forever grateful and, of course, for the times my Dad and I shared which now seem a lifetime ago and yet it has only been 5 years. Wow!

Proctor Trail, Madera Canyon, AZ

The ceremonial opening of the newly repaired Proctor Loop Trail in Madera Canyon was on December 3, 2019. Thanks to day permit fees and donations from Friends of Madera Canyon this 3 year project resulted in a trailhead with a short paved handicap accessible section. Just off the parking lot, there is an honor wall.

The short paved section has informative nature signs and you’ll see bird watchers, people walking their pet on a leash, hikers and all handling the gradual slope with ease. Most of the trail is in the shade which is nice for an August day, but do not expect to see the “secret waterfall”.

Further along the trail you discover the trail is not paved, but a foot path with good signage so you know where you are. You’ll also see bat houses for any of the 17 different species found in this area. An upper loop to other areas in the canyon is with some climbing and crossing bridge and walkway.

I was here to watch for birds and in the shade I had my challenges, plus with others on the trail the birds were not as accommodating as I had wished. But I did see bridled titmouse, turkey vultures, flycatchers and many silhouetted birds. I couldn’t figure out what caught the mule deer’s attention; it was totally oblivious of me! They certainly know that are safe in this environment!

One can drive the 3 miles up the start of the canyon which is all part of the Santa Rita Mountains, fourth highest of the Sky Islands in the Coronado National Forest. The range rises 6,000 feet and has plenty to offer hikers, birders, star gazers and campers. There are 3 picnic ares, 5 trailheads and a campground. Someday I am hoping to see the elegant trogon. I want to see if that bird is really as beautiful as pictures I have seen of it!

Celebrate … With Wine!

Which wine will you have today? Are you ready to celebrate National Pinot Noir Day? A glass of wine is part of my daily routine with special attention this week to the national celebration on August 18, 2020, National Pinot Noir Day.

Unfortunately, no wine-country travel happening for me at the moment, but I have plenty of memories in discovering wine, specifically pinot noir!

Many years ago our travel brought us through California’s Dry Creek Valley area for road bicycling and we stopped at various wineries and tasting rooms. When we asked about pinot noir, one place directed us to Kokomo Winery. So down the road we went to discover this place which was only a very small tasting room. It was a new place in 2004, sort of discovering itself, so when we asked more specifically about pinot noir they recommended Papapietro Perry. Across the parking lot was Papapietro Perry that had a pinot noir, full bodied and twice the price. At that time it was difficult to imagine paying the price, so we limited ourselves to our budget. We returned other times to partake in a wine and food pairing at Papapietro Perry and now we do purchase Kokomo and Papapietro Perry wines!

A few years later we decided it was time to only focus on pinot noir wines as we did not know much about them compared to us having the old vine zinfandel wine drunk most often. When in wine country it is easy to drink and think all are delicious. But when focused on one wine and learning where the grapes are grown for a pinot noir it helped us choose what we enjoyed most.

We drove along the coast of California and Anderson Valley where we discovered Handley Cellars Winery and only tasted pinot noir. Fantastic wine tasting opportunity for us. Milla Handley was the first woman winemaker to open a winery in her own name in California and unfortunately she recently died due to Covid-19.

Another trip we visited a Russian River Valley winery called Benovia. Founded in 2005, the various estate vineyards each have distinct-tasting pinot noirs. We had a private tasting and the land is beautiful as we someday hope to stay at the guest cottage available on the land.

We now purchase the pinot noir wines from the four wineries with each having a different price point. Higher priced wine does not always mean it is the better tasting wine! Dependent on the year, the weather, the vineyard, the food eaten with the wine and whatever else, all the wines are enjoyed throughout the year which is one of the things I really enjoy about pinot noir wines!

Are you ready to celebrate National Pinot Noir Day on August 18, 2020? Get ready to celebrate!