Much to Learn

A self-portrait at Balanced Rock at sunrise, taken on the Balanced Rock Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona on October 24, 2020. Original: _CAM5685.cr2

Some people were flabbergasted, knowing how much I loved the rain of the Pacific Northwest, that I was willing to give life in Arizona a try. I knew it would take an attitude adjustment on my part not just to deal with the heat but with the relentless sun. It’s not that I never went hiking on sunny days in Oregon but in those glorious forests the sun was more of an abstract than a reality, so it was mostly a concern up above treeline or out on the coast. The other morning I got up early as there was a specific tree near Balanced Rock I wanted to photograph in the shade and I knew Granite Mountain would block the rising sun for a little while, giving me time to try out different compositions. Though I made a beeline to the area even from a distance I could see Balanced Rock was already bathed in sunlight. I checked and double-checked and triple-checked my watch and was so confused I turned back to the rising sun to understand my mistake and could but laugh as I realized at this time of year the sun peeked through a dip in the southern end of the mountain, lighting this area earlier than on my other visits. The next weekend I returned for this shot when the sun first cleared the mountain, a little paean to how little I understand and how eager I am to learn.

The Ways of Trixie Are Spreading

Our cat Trixie rests atop two pillows on the couch near the kitchen on October 28, 2020. Original: _RAC7001.arw

Seeing Trixie on a pillow is as rare as seeing the sun in the desert sky, but not so her brothers. I was surprised to see Boo on the pillows a few days ago but the unusual is par for the course with Boo, I only get worried when it’s been a while since I’ve seen him sitting in a new spot. The next day I found Sam doing the same on a different couch, if I was a little surprised by Boo I was very surprised by Sam, he usually moves between his favorite spots but this was a new one for him. Last night Trixie climbed into bed with me which she never does so either the old cats are learning new tricks or the universe is coming apart at the seams.

Our cat Boo rests atop two pillows on the couch on October 26, 2020. Original: _RAC6911.arw

Our cat Sam rests atop a pillow on the couch on October 27, 2020. Original: _RAC6983.arw

Desert Flora

A view at sunset of some of the larger plants of the Sonoran Desert, looking towards Granite Mountain from the Latigo Trail on October 17, 2020. Original: _CAM5616.arw

A view at sunset of some of the larger plants of the Sonoran Desert, looking towards Granite Mountain. I assumed the trails would be packed in the evenings but went since I haven’t been able to get out much in the mornings and to my surprise saw almost no one. Perhaps it’s a quirk of timing where it was still hot in the evenings but not dangerously so, maybe now that it is cooling off it will be more crowded.

Art in the Park

A large seed pod sculpture sits in front of a palo verde and a leaning saguaro at George Doc Cavalliere Park in Scottsdale, Arizona on October 16, 2020. Original: _CAM5533.arw

Dotting the short hiking trail at Cavalliere Park, a multi-use park near our house, are seed pod sculptures by Jeff Zischke. I love how naturally they are placed in the landscape, they remind me of animal sculptures we saw years ago at an Audubon Center in Maine. This is one of the larger ones, sitting just uphill from the basketball courts, near a saguaro as obliging as it is beautiful as it leans over to more easily fit into the picture.

Has Anyone Seen Boo?

The legs of our cat Boo stick out from behind the curtain as he sleeps in our bedroom on October 16, 2020. Original: _RAC6477.arw

Poor Boo had to go in recently to get more teeth removed, he’s only 7 years old but he’s had issues with his teeth over the years. He seems to be recovering well, here he’s behind the bedroom curtains where he likes to sleep during the day, what with the expansive view of the backyard wildlife, although as I write this he’s curled up on my legs.

You Don’t Have to be Straight to be Beautiful

An old saguaro full of woodpecker holes leans over at George Doc Cavalliere Park in Scottsdale, Arizona on October 16, 2020. Original: _CAM5573.arw

Two dimensions don’t do justice to how much this battered old beauty leans over, its trunk and surviving arms littered with woodpecker holes. How many families has it sheltered on this little sliver of land, protected from the development that surrounds? I meant to photograph it months ago but got pulled up and down the trail first by a phoebe and then a woodpecker, so I was thankful it still stood in all its perfect glory on a visit at sunset a couple of weeks ago.