Purple Mountain Majesties

The rising sun casts long shadows across the mountains in front of Weaver's Needle, taken from the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The sun rises to the left of Weaver’s Needle, casting long shadows across the mountains. It was a delightful morning on the Marcus Landslide Trail, I had gone for one particular shot at sunrise but couldn’t resist this quick shot of the distant mountains. The phainopepla were out in abundance along with other birds, just a lovely morning in the desert.

The Fall Reward

A female phainopepla perches in a tree early on a November morning along the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

One of the birds I hoped to see after we moved to Arizona was the phainopepla (pronounced fay-no-PEP-la) but after not seeing one for months I thought it was unlikely. In October I got some distant looks at a black bird with white under its wings and after hitting my field guides realized I had finally seen one of these silky flycatchers. It took a bit longer to see them up close but in late November I got a long look at this female early one morning on the Marcus Landslide Trail. Yesterday I got a long look at a male, they were thick as thieves around the desert, but this morning it was cold and windy and I didn’t see a one. According to one of my guide books they should be common from now until early spring so I’m looking forward to our next meeting.

I Finally Found a Mushroom I Like

A close-up view of Mushroom Rock on the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

While I believe mushrooms belong in the Mount Rushmore of Disgusting Foods along with green beans, quinoa, and brown rice, this mushroom I like! Weathered granite formations like Mushroom Rock are created by erosion, the granite pebbles that break away spread across the surface of the desert (my shins had an unpleasant introduction to these pebbles early on after we moved here when I slipped just a little on a hike).

Ten Minutes

Our dog Ellie rests on the tile near our front door with her tongue sticking slightly out in our rental house in Scottsdale, Arizona

I was too tired to get up early for hiking this morning which meant I could take Ellie for her morning walk instead. The walks are only 10 minutes long these days but I treasure every minute. I was thinking as we walked about how one silver lining of getting laid off last year was getting to walk her every morning while she was still able. She still greets me with joy when I get up in the morning and when I come home from work or hiking, her body is aging but her spirit is ever young. She wasn’t sleeping with her tongue out, I caught her as she was about to lick her nose.