Tiny Seed

3

March 26, 2017, Prescott-

I am starting, just starting, to emerge

from a heavy coat,

after several false springs.

My last flowering,

which itself went to seed,

six years ago,

was followed by

pollen-blowing winds.

Tests came,

and the sacred dust settled,

across the middle

and to the south

of this continent,

in the west of Europe,

to our northwest

and Alaska.

I have felt a warm sun,

and plentiful water,

in each place, where my pollen dust has landed.

The seedling is poking through, yet again,

in a new spring.

Much of the pollen,

has stuck, right here,

yet there is a rich amount

that is settling in a place,

one hundred fifty miles or so,

to our southeast.

Friendly gardeners are tending me,

everywhere I feel.

There is wonderment, though,

as to where I will take root,

in this new spring.

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XIX: Two Kinds of Heaven

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March 14, 2017, Superior-  I was invigorated, despite it being an afternoon during the Fast, once the High Trail came into view.  This fairly easy trail first led down into Queen Creek Canyon, and past an old, abandoned Pump House.

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The energetic and happy family ahead of me were already planning to bounce along the bridge that crossed Queen Creek and take on the ridge, which gives High Trail its name.  I was more than glad to follow suit.  As they bounced up and down, in unison, I lingered behind, to take in the fragrance of some Texas Scarlet, and view upwards, at the rhyolite which Queen Creek seems to have thrust upwards.

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Then, it was time to do a bit of jumping of my own.

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Queen Creek was still, on this gorgeous afternoon.

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The views eastward, however, were an extra delight- the rugged edges of a particular heaven.

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I was able to get one more, long-distance view of Picket Post House, before heading back down into the canyon.

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Obsidian accompanies rhyolite, as one heads towards the Australian exhibit.

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After one last look at the rhyolite “castles”, for today, I headed back towards the Arboretum.

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There are two greenhouses, on the western edge of the park.  These house plants that are still delicate, primarily from the “cone” of South America and from southern and eastern Africa.

Mammilaria are the main feature of Green House 1.

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Euphorbia, and aloe, dominate Green House 2.  The first shows plants from Madagascar, which, like the U.S. has a rugged desert Southwest.

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These plants are from the equally rugged southwest of the Arabian Peninsula.

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With that, I exited Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  My return,  in the first days of April, will be in no small part due to  a special soul, working in this little bit of heaven.  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Nature and friendship are what keep me going, as many in Prescott, and elsewhere, know.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XVIII: Queen Creek, as A Moat

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March 14, 2017, Superior- After an intensive review of the desert plants, with which I have become so well familiar, thanks to both Boyce Thompson Arboretum and its sister institution, Desert Botanical Garden, I headed up along the High Trail, to have a look at Picket Post House’s exterior (the house doesn’t re-open for visits, until either next year or 2019), and  Ayer Lake, a small reservoir that was drawn from Queen Creek, for the purpose of attracting water fowl and aquatic reptiles.

High Trail goes between  Ayer Lake and Picket Post House, then loops around to the west and south, along the eastern base of Picket Post Mountain.  The first twenty minutes of my hike, on this relatively easy trail, found me in a wealth of company- it being Spring Break for Arizona schools.  There were birders galore, at  Ayer Lake, teen girls with selfie sticks, on the rocks above the reservoir and adventurous boys, who followed me in exploring a couple of ledges, overlooking a western spur of Queen Creek Gorge.  The parents of the kids were close by, enjoying the relative comfort of the thatched-roof ramada.

Here are further scenes of this very full visit.   Ayer Lake, rather still on this mild day, has at least one resident turtle, and several Black Phoebes, enjoying the cold water.

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I saw a couple Red-tailed hawks circling around, as well.  They are said to nest in the rhyolite boulders, which abound in this park that was built from nature, not imposed on it.

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This overlook was most popular with the girls.

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Of course, it had the best view of the reservoir.

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Speckled and striated rhyolite, between lake and mansion, testify to the presence of both copper and iron, in the area.

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Picket Post House itself looms just above these boulders, and almost seems protected by the creek and canyon, which loop around its northern and western flanks.

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The boys and I saw this hint of the coming spring, from the canyon’s edge.

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Here was a sight that caused the boys to turn back from the overlook.

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Picket Post House, seen from a southwestern vantage point, shows its retaining wall.

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I look forward to seeing the place, in its full magnificence, once it becomes part of the park’s exhibits, a year or two hence.

Next up:  The High Trail’s western course.

Palpitations

6

March 22, 2017, Prescott-

My heart was aflutter, somehow, this morning.

I felt an intense, gentle warmth, coming from an unknown source.

My thoughts went to a barely-known friend,

some distance to the southeast of here.

I felt her energy and encouragement.

Then, they went to Dad.

He’d have celebrated his ninetieth birthday, today,

had his heart not failed him,

on that warm June morning, thirty-one years ago.

Dad always wanted us to think of the sunny parts of life,

to get us through the challenges.

He never wanted any of us to give up,

and that’s largely why I’m still here.

Love is always the secret.

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XVII: The Amazing Fruits of Sand

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMarch 14, 2017, Superior- No doubt about it, this area has me hooked.  Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, a combination of Desert Botanical Garden and the Prescott Circle Trail, is the centerpiece of an intensely spiritual region.  Queen Creek, which runs through the park, on the south side, has carved Arizona’s best-kept secret, in its network of canyons.  Picket Post Mountain, to the west, watches over the Arboretum, like a strong big brother.  The people I met, from a gentle wanderer who is exploring all the National Forests west of the Mississippi, to a  vibrant,passionately caring barista, exuded the sort of spirituality that comes from tapping into the extant energy field that is found in places that stay close to their natural origins.

I will present Boyce Thompson Arboretum in three segments:  This first post looks at the various desert plants, from all corners of the world, with an emphasis on the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts, which are closest to the central Arizona highlands, in which the park exists.

The next post will feature Lake Ayer and the terrain around Picket Post House (Boyce Thompson’s residence)  The last  will take in the High Trail and the west end of Queen Creek Canyon.

Here are four scenes of the Sonoran Trail, which offers the flora of Arizona, Sonora (MX) and Baja California.

This is a Fire Barrel Cactus, found in both the Sonoran and lower Mojave Deserts.

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Maguey de Pulque is the source of a medicinal fermented beverage, popular first with the indigenous people of northwest and central Mexico.  It was originally used to relieve intestinal discomfort.

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Palm trees, of various types, are found throughout the deserts of Mexico.  This San Jose Hester Palm is found only in Baja California.

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Here is a testament to the full botanic splendour of the Sonoran Desert, holding its own with the exhibits of Desert Botanical Garden (Phoenix) and Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum(Tucson).  The flowering has not reached its peak, but anticipated rains, next week, may change that.  I may even catch some of the colours, when I am here next, on April 1-2.

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The Curandero Trail, named for the traditional healers of Mexico, focuses on medicinal plants, both of the Sonoran and of the Chihuahuan Deserts.

Desert lavender has a calming effect, similar to that of its cousin, in the temperate climates to the north.  Here it is, in a dry tributary of Queen Creek.

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Snakeweed, seen behind the informational sign, had a wide variety of uses, from treating snakebite to serving as a laxative for horses.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBoyce Thompson Arboretum has an extensive catalog of course offerings, on the uses of desert plants.  I am likely to make good use of those courses, in the intermediate future.

Finally, here are a few South American and Australian desert scenes.

This is a Toothpick Cactus, from Argentina’s Gran Chaco.

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The Chaco, like the Sonoran Desert, gets quite verdant, with winter rains (July).

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The interior of Australia  is, as is widely known, a place for only the hardiest of man and beast.  This water tower is indicative of what might be found in a swagman’s camp.  Swagmen herded livestock, in oases of the Outback.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Here are  eucalyptus trees, found in the eastern part of the Outback.

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This gum tree does not supply chicle, as its Mesoamerican and African cousins do, but did give swagmen a supply of resin, for their workaday adhesive needs.

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This is, of course, a minute sampling of what is in store for the visitor to Boyce Thompson.  Two greenhouses, just shy of the park exit, offer sensitive African and Arabian desert flora.  These will have their own segments of the park, in the near future, as will Central Asian and Mediterranean plant life.

Next up:  Geology’s Turn to Dazzle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ageless

6

March 19, 2017, Prescott-

My eldest, and last surviving, paternal uncle has joined his parents, seven of his ten siblings, his soul mate and his daughter, in the Eternal Realm.

I remember the paper airplanes,

for which you won an award,

which you said you needed,

like a hole in the head.

More to your satisfaction,

were the doll houses,

gifts to your own granddaughter,

and to several grandnieces.

They taught the girls to imagine,

to appreciate small detail,

and to know that they were

deeply cherished in a good man’s heart.

The family histories,

so complete, and so informative,

came to us at a time

when too many of your siblings,

and their contemporaries around us,

were winging their flights homeward.

You made your way to Colorado,

and the comfort of your grandchildren,

as a solace for the loss of your beloved Jean.

It was a fine thing to see you there,

in Longmont, and,

later,in Loveland.

It was a blessing,

to see how well

the young folks,

who have dedicated themselves

to the care of their most senior elders,

took you into their hearts,

as you took them into yours.

Farewell, Uncle George,

and may your soul find its rest.

I know my Dad is happy to see you,

as are Grampy, Nana ,

all my beloved paternal aunts, uncles

and Cousin Linda.

The ageless send us

a message of joy,

to soothe our grief.

Blessed Eternity

 

Thinking, Feeling, and Knowing

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March 18, 2017, Prescott-  Let’s take a break from the posting of travel photos, as I sense there is ennui setting in, among my readers here.

All my life, I’ve been through a dichotomy between thinking, usually based on incomplete information and feeling, based on my emotions of the moment.

I came upon the third component of personal reality, knowing, in the intuitive sense, not the cognitive meaning, a few years into my time as a Baha’i.  The fact that I had given up a rather intense devotion to alcoholic beverages, at the same time, also helped.

These days, I put feeling and knowing into use, before thinking.  It’s helped avoid a lot of the pitfalls, into which I have placed myself over the years, from being repeated.

In Fall, 1980, I felt that I was ready to meet a special person.  When I met Penny, a month later, I knew that special person would be in my life, for a very long time, and would be present in my being, forever.

 

In Winter, 2011, when she left this world, I entered a period, of about 2 1/2 years, in which I felt that a person who resembled Penny, either in countenance or in blithe spirit, would be my solace. I knew, though, in the end, that  this fabrication was doing me no good, and that I had to go through the hard work of getting myself settled, of becoming in tune with who I was, in my own space.

These days, I feel another special presence in my life.  I don’t know much about this person, yet, so I can’t say I am certain, as to how things will pan out.  I do know, cognitively, that she lives on the other side of Arizona.  I know, intuitively, that I regarded her as a dear friend,  as soon as we met, a few days ago, and that I will let that friendship go where it will.  I am under no illusions; yet, it seems like I’ve known her for a very long time.

The writer and philosopher, Shakti Gawain, talks of her varied relationships, at all levels.  She makes the interesting point that one can know, intuitively, when a person is part of one’s soul family.  I have many such brothers, sisters, children, and extended family.  Each is of particular  value and there will be many others; of this, I’m certain.  Let’s see where the path leads.

 

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XVI: Spirits and Graffiti

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March 14, 2017, Superior-  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Some call the place Devil’s Canyon.  Others prefer Spirit Canyon.  Folks like me look at it, and Queen Creek Gorge, it is.  There seem to be at least three canyons, branching off.  The one I checked out, from the highway rim, is between Superior and the Oak Flat turnoff.  It includes the high bridge over Queen Creek and a maze of rhyolite spires, reminding me of southeast Nevada’s Cathedral Gorge.

Bored local youths have, over the years, added their signatures, hopes and dreams to the pillars.  Most are mildly irritating, to those who seek solace, on the canyon’s edge.  One, though, is a statement that most of us can appreciate.

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For the greater part, though, Queen Creek Gorge is a major delight, for hikers and rock climbers, alike.  It accounts for a good number of the campers who flock to Oak Flat.  On my next visit to Superior, I want to spend a key part of the time checking out the creek bed itself.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES It also looks as if there is a ridge that could accommodate the hiker.

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I always imagine the various face-like features of the sandstone spires, as if they were gargoyles.

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Afternoon shadows mask what the stand-alone spire might resemble.

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These three appear rather comical, yet ever watchful.

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This one, I call Joe Palooka, because he probably isn’t into any funny business.

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The scene on the north side of Highway 60 is every bit as amazing.  I saw an offbeat George Washington, in the figure to the right.

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After about ten minutes of contemplation, it was time to bid adieu to the many spirits who seem to be inhabiting this compact, but extraordinary, canyon system.

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Next up-  Boyce Thompson Arboretum:  The Regional Exhibits

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XV: Free Souls Abound

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March 13, 2017, Oak Flat, AZ-

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES The young couple were a bit taken aback, as I returned to the campsite, where my tent was set up.  They hushed their small, annoyed dog, as I explained I had been at the campsite for a while and had gone to town for dinner.  As they were car-camping, and the campground is free, we were all fine with each other’s presence.  Besides, after some banter, I left them alone, and was content to watch the stars and think loving thoughts. The campground reflected those back.

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Before all this, as there were about 45 minutes until sundown, I took a stroll along an easy trail that led south and west from the campground.  A free spirit, whose own goal was explore all the National Forests west of the Mississippi, had pointed me in the direction of a spring, which he said was a good two hours’ hike from here.  I took the stone path out of the campground and shortly found remnants of another of General Stoneman’s outposts.

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Rhyolite and obsidian abound, in this part of Arizona, as you will see further in “Devils Canyon” (I prefer the name, Queen Creek Gorge, but to each their own.)

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Stone walls were built to last, in the 1870’s.

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I like to pay respects at  memorials to the local departed, wherever I go.  This cross honours the wife of an Oak Flat native.

The campground is of further interest to me, because there is a controversy over just how extensively a planned underground copper mine will be allowed to run, underneath this immediate area.  There are concerns about depleting the water table and about creating a giant sinkhole, under the current campground.  There is some debate, even among Native Americans, as to the sacredness of the site to the Apache Nation.  Several protesters have set up a camp, within the campground, featuring traditional Apache dwellings, called wikieup.  The environmental and archaeological concerns are valid, as is the need for work, among the residents of Superior and outlying areas.  I would probably favour a scaled back mining enterprise, with careful attention to the water table and to honouring any burial sites that may be found.

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Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XIV: Picketpost Mountain

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March 13, 2017, Superior, AZ- Spring Break started in earnest, this morning.  A drive down to my dentist’s office took care of a moderately vexing issue, then I stopped at Scottsdale’s lovely Baha’i Center, to recite my morning prayers, in its serene courtyard.

Superior, and the Upper Queen Creek Watershed, have long been on my radar screen as a venue for exploration.  Picketpost Mountain forms a spectacular backdrop for Boyce Thompson Arboretum, a compendium of desert flora, from around the globe.  Like its counterpart, Desert Botanical Garden, in Phoenix’s  Papago Park, “The Boyce” manages to educate a wide-ranging public, on the value of deserts and the importance of preserving the life that is found in them.  Much more about all that, later.

My immediate draw, even before getting to the town of Superior, was a brief (2-mile, round trip) hike in the eastern approach to Picketpost’s base.  This gave me a foothold on Arizona National Scenic Trail, the length of which may yet be in my future.  It was also not enervating, as I am in the last week of a sunrise-to-sunset fast, of 19 days’ duration.

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This work station is managed by the Federal BLM, two of whose workers were on hand, when I first pulled in, to make sure I wasn’t planning on camping at the site.  Picketpost dominates Superior’s western approach, much as Pike’s Peak lords over Colorado Springs, and the San Francisco Peaks, over Flagstaff.  It was named by soldiers stationed here, under Gen. George Stoneman, in 1870, as it was a good spot for a sentinel post. Here are some of what await the serious hiker. (I would consider it in October, not before.)

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The wall is a remnant of General Stoneman’s western camp.  The bulk of his operation was what is now the town of Superior, 3 miles further east.

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As you will see, continuously, in this series, the rains have been good to Arizona, this winter.

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Thanks to my zoom,  here is a close-up of the top ridge, from a good distance.

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In the opposite direction, Weaver’s Needle says “Hey, remember me?”  I surely do, and what a marvelous trek that was!

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I have encountered many heart rocks, all symbols that the Universe holds me in a good place.  Diamond-shaped rocks are a sign of one step further.  Superior would join Prescott, Bisbee, Flagstaff, Sedona, Tubac and Chloride as a special Arizona place in my heart.

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Next up:  Oak Flat