In the mix of the liveliness of my visiting grandchildren I grasp solitary, private moments. In the distance they played. Beside the lake I walked. Caught among high weeds, a feather of fine lines, splendid in its golden light, became a one-man art show.
This is one of my favorite places down at the lake and I can’t calculate the times I have lifted my camera and snapped my shutter for another picture. When I walked there a couple of days ago, a duck couple swam lazily, the elegant male lounging about in the center where I could easily photograph him, while his busy little lady was dipping and tucking, many times only her brown tail feathers visible, as she gathered lunch
This was only the second day I had walked Winston very far around the lake and I had expected him to bark at the ducks, but he didn’t; merely starred at them as they paddled about, then flew high, and skidded again into the cold water.I thought of my grandchildren as I walked, and a lacy throw of sadness fell about me–not too heavy–but there, for they’re much older now, and situations have changed, and I don’t have them up here as much as in years before.
The grounds around the lake were filled with picnicking families, and a couple of ball games were in progress. Once I heard behind me a little voice say, “Granny,” and even though on some level I knew that call was not for me, I turned, a miniscule flash of hope thinking maybe some of them have made a surprise visit, but the child was not mine.
A foursome ran by Winston and me, three eight or nine year old little girls followed by a boy about the same age, who couldn’t quite keep up. He yelled–seemingly to save his pride. “I’m not running as fast as I can.” I grinned. Winston tugged on his leash. He too wanted to run through this glorious spring day.
Winston didn’t want to leave when we arrived back at the car; instead lay as an unmoving lump on the pavement, so I gave in, and walked a short distance away into a wooded area near a parking lot. I sat down on a large rock. Winston lay beside me, and we watched the people as they parked their cars and pulled fishing poles, picnic hampers, and balls and bats from their vehicles.
Two little boys raced up the incline where we sat and ran past us. In a minute I felt a gentle poke on my shoulder. When I turned I was looking into the face of a six-year-old or so boy. He pointed to the parking lot where a bright red bike sat. “That’s a dirt bike.”
“Sure is. Can you ride a dirt bike?”
“Yes, mine is blue and orange.”
“Where’s your mom,” I asked him. “I want to take your picture.”
“No pictures.” He yelped and grinned and raced down the hill to his family.
Winston and I sat a while longer, then we walked to the car, and I drove the few minutes it takes to reach our home. Winston napped the rest of the afternoon.
We were down in San Diego on Friday for dual purposes; to take care of business and to visit with our two children who live here. Jerry and Steve were busy with manly things, so with my sweet Nikon on the seat beside me in our white Jeep and with my feet snug in great shoes, I traced my way from the 54 W to the 5 N, took the Pershing Street exit 15 B, drove up a steep hill and entered the environs of beautiful Balboa Park. I spent two invigorating hours wandering about admiring, almost gasping sometimes at the splendor, and snapping my shutter numerous times.
The surface of this reflecting pool was afloat with numerous lily pads and blossoms.
The late afternoon sun slanted, lighting the flowers as though neon flared through their skin..
Purple blossoms reared their stunning heads among the green circular pads.
I turned a corner and saw bougainvillea trailing forward, back-lit by the receding sun, the outline of a mission the backdrop for the scarlet flowers.
We in Southern California are blessed by a plethora of magnificence . . . from the awe-inspiriting Pacific coast to our soaring mountains, not to mention man-made attractions such as Balboa with its varied museums and world-class zoo. Does anyone think we may forget to enjoy those things that are so close to us? I’m afraid I may be guilty of that. I’m not nearly as familiar with Balboa as I should be. It covers more than 1200 acres, which range from open trails to magnificent buildings such as some I have pictured here.
Where do you live? . . . .Is there countryside you should explore? Ancient buildings you should tour? Do historical trails and battlefields lie nearby, or museums, or do stately courthouses line the streets of your Americana? What of the great cities, their alleyways, their trains and buses, their cathedrals? . . . Where do you live? Do you know the place? Sniffed its aroma lately, followed your nose to a neighborhood bakery, trained your eyes to see its grandeur. . . . I’m challenging you: Get out and about. One more thing . . . tell us about it, right here in a comment box. 🙂
So we’re off, having gone from Lake Havasu at 7:10 on Thursday morning, and arriving in Phoenix around noon. A slight motorhome challenge delayed us while still in the city limits of Lake Havasu, when, in the faithful Country Coach motorhome, Jerry discovered the radiator water level to be low. Poured and hosed in water. Voila! Problem solved.
One of the neat things about motor home travel is the option of pulling to the side of the road for meals or snacks should violent hunger strike the occupants of said motor home, and going-down-the-road snacks and sandwiches don’t seem enough. We had eaten no breakfast, having arisen early, and having presented Melina’s birthday present to her. We had discussed driving awhile, then we would stop to eat. Bouse was the place Jerry chose.
Jerry turned on the generator, we ran the air-conditioners, and I actually cooked bacon and eggs. Well, the bacon supply was of such skimpiness that I’m not sure it even counts, but we did have one slim slice each. I cleaned up the dishes, grabbed my camera, and went out the door so that I could preserve the moment.
With all due respect to its founder and to its current residents, I do not believe I would choose to live in Bouse. 🙂
We had scoured the area as we drove so as to select a level place; this spot held promise, as there appeared to be no customers around and we wouldn’t be in the way. From the slatted roof of this structure, cool shadows played on the ground.
I had noted what might be a bird’s nest in the upper reaches of the structure, so I pointed my camera there, but I was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to see a mama bird with babies on her nest. I did enjoy looking at the old buildings and loved the name of the area where we stopped: Pricklepear Square.
What sort of people have lived here over the years? I pondered as I walked about. Founded as a mining camp, there are no doubt countless stories of intrigue and drama in what now is just a dusty little place on Arizona State Highway 72.
Why choose to live here? for just a few miles away is Parker, that beautiful little town through which runs the sparkling blue waters of the Colorado, and which is surrounded by jagged, splendid mountains. Interesting. Just a few miles farther is stunning Lake Havasu.
Perhaps it is the solitude, the sense of history…the memory of a culture long gone.
During the night as we steamed toward Mexico, I looked through our window and saw thousands of lights glittering in the distance, and presumed we were passing San Diego. When morning dawned, our view out the window gave to an enormous red, white and green flag–the flag of Mexico. We were in Ensenada.
I wanted to prowl about a bit on land, but Jerry didn’t particularly want to, and our friends weren’t too eager, so we stayed aboard ship for the day. What an elegant, relaxing, talking time we had. We watched birds swarming and swooping, and seals turning and languishing in the surf. We ate and slept and walked and gazed and lounged and blinked and nodded and ate and watched people and gazed and blinked and nodded. In the evening as the huge ship pulled away from land, we stood on deck and watched as the lights of Ensenada receded, until finally they were no more.
Our final day was one at sea. In the evening after a day of absolute relaxation, and more than abundant food, we four proceeded to the library where for awhile we played a game with dominoes. We partnered–men against the women. Ask me sometime who won. 🙂
June 27th was the 53rd anniversary of our wedding anniversary; July 24th was my birthday. Several weeks ago our friends the Hogans wondered whether or not we might be up for a short cruise, and, yes we would, and we would say the occasion would be to celebrate those two events in our lives.
Just past noon last Monday in Long Beach we boarded the Carnival ship Paradise, found our way to the dining room for the first of many meals we would enjoy during the next few days. Around 5:30 the huge vessel pulled away from its dock and headed to sea; destination the town of Avalon on the island named Catalina.
Jerry, bless his heart, sat in the living room, at various times through the evening reading the newspaper, studying the Bible, and playing with the grandkids, while we heathen people circled the table in the dining room roaring with such laughter that sometimes speech was impossible and warm tears were loosed. Balderdash was the culprit, surely the most uproarious game ever invented. Jerry, poor thing, is just not into games that much, somehow missing the crucial gene that sets the body to a quiver as someone calls, “Who’s up for a game of Balderdash or a round of Rook?”
“Guess what time I came to bed,” I said to Jerry this morning.
“It was two or three o’clock, Shirley. I know for I was still awake.”
“It was not! It was only 1:30.”
“Well, I couldn’t sleep. Every time I dozed off, your yelping would wake me up.”
“Sorry…” I weakly apologized. For from such a pure and righteous heart as mine, how could I spit out a sincere sorry for having so much fun on a Thanksgiving evening with my grown children as we circled a table, some so overtaken with glee as to fall from their chairs to the floor, the hours punctuated by nibbles of ham sandwiches, pumpkin pie, and buttered yeast rolls.
A couple of years ago, I wrote of our playing the game Balderdash, that I didn’t have a set of my own, and that I was hoping Santa would deliver on my wish. He did, and since we’ve been home in Crestline this week, I have staggered to bed past the 12:00 witching hour three nights in a row, having engaged in hilarious rounds of this wonderful game.
Unique joy and silvered memories are inextricably linked to family holiday games, where for the day or the evening are laid aside mundane chores, wearisome work schedules, seemingly unsolvable problems, and in their places are set laughter and hope and love.
That’s not balderdash!
We had eaten a small breakfast at the spacious, high-ceilinged cafeteria near our lodge, then had taken the Rim Trail and walked to the middle of the village. We paused now for a gentle swing on one of the porches of El Tovar Hotel and I set up my tripod so I could take a couple of pictures of Jerry and me. In the distance you see the Hopi House. After a fine lunch as we were leaving El Tovar we heard the tom tom tom of an Indian dance; we walked over and joined the gathered crowd.
The man whose ornaments you see here was the emcee and was announcing the dance a young man was about to perform. He talked leisurely, in a casual across-the-fence sort of way, going on and on about the dedication of the young people during the summer, their study of traditions and lore and Indian dances.
It was very hot, and finally the stone-faced young indian turned to the emcee and, expressionlessly, did a spinning motion with his arms.
Amusement was perceptible in the voice of the emcee as he said, “The floor is hot. He wants me to get on with the music.” He went on talking, though, about the rings and how the heat makes them so flexible it is hard to perform the maneuvers. It was an interesting interchange, although a little unnerving to me. I think that may have been so because Indians usually present such stoic faces and their performances seem exact and regimented and the man, who was also the drummer and the singer, seemed a bit uncaring of the young dancer.
The young man was quite talented and performed flawlessly, it seemed to me. Using the rings, he intertwined himself, then stepped smoothly out of them; he arranged designs and signals, all in perfect rhythm to the music that was being played.
Immediately on finishing his dance, the young man went to the side of the stage and grabbed a bottle of water. It was so hot, I assumed he would lift it to his mouth and guzzle it down. No, he sat down, poured the water in his hands and began rubbing it across the soles of his moccasins. His feet must have been blistered.
The American Indian communities surrounding Grand Canyon actively maintain their ancient cultures and traditions. They have long been associated with exquisite but functional crafts which reflect their close ties with nature. Fine collectibles created by native artisans began to be marketed to outsiders in the 1880s through trading posts they erected. Within driving distance of the Grand Canyon are reservations of Havasupai, Hopi, Hualapai, Kaibab-Paiute and Navajo. It is a fascinating area of the country.
We just had time to breeze through the Hopi House before boarding our train, and when Jerry asked one of the clerks if the building was original, she explained much of their history and handed him a small card with this information on it.
“Hopi House constructed in 1905. Designed as living quarters for Hopi artisans and as a place to sell Hopi crafts and souvenirs, this building represents the efforts of the Fred Harvey Company to revive Southwest Indian arts and crafts. Designed by Mary Jane Colter, the building was modeled after part of the Hopi village at Third Mesa, in Oraibi. It retains much of its original appearance.”
We were ready to walk to the long flight of stairs that led to the train station when I spied a van that was tastefully lettered “Grand Canyon Railway.” Jerry asked, the driver said, “Sure,” we climbed in and within minutes had been discharged and were now mingled with the crowd awaiting the boarding call.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: I am experiencing significance computer challenges and consequently am not able to respond to your comments as I would like. Last Thursday, my sweet little Apple crashed. There is no certified tech here in Lake Havasu, so it’s either a trip to Las Vegas or Phoenix or California. We’re going there in ten days, so I’ll take the little hurting white machine to be repaired while we are “home.”
In the meantime I’m using Jerry’s Fujitsu which has an aversion to the internet connection at our motor home park and also, at times, refuses to type a y. I’m at the Lake Havasu library at the moment–Fujitsu likes it here and has allowed me to use its y all afternoon. 🙂
I do appreciate your comments and anticipate reading them. I promise to respond when I can.
My devotional blog is here.
Not far out of the Williams station, as I looked through the train window, I saw a long jackrabbit stretching rapidly over the field, his long ears loping. Later I saw two more rabbits–not jackrabbits–just plain ones, and once in a far meadow I caught sight of two deer who stood quiet and staring.
Printed prominently in material they handed out once we arrived at the Grand Canyon was the warning: Don’t feed the animals in the park. Once a wild animal is fed human food, it may become dependent on handouts and the balance of nature has been disrupted, and what seems a kind gesture can actually cost the lives of animals. The Canyon abounds with various kinds of squirrels, lizards, deer, elk, bighorn sheep, hawks, eagles, wild turkeys, coyotes and ringtails. In lesser numbers are bobcats, badgers and rattlesnakes.
Many of the squirrels in the area have completely lost their fear of people because of being fed so frequently. On a stone wall, I laid down my gear to snap a picture, and scrambling over my tripod and right up to me romped a lively squirrel, who looked boldly into my face, checking to see if I had brought lunch for the gang, I suppose–startled me so that I jumped.
People were feeding the tamed squirrels and I watched a couple of people pet this one. Amazing and dangerous. They can nip and often they carry diseases. Looks like this one might have been a nursing mama. I watched a couple of skittering lizards, and tiny adorable chipmunks who appeared to be playing games among the bolders.
A most remarkable success story is that of the Californai Condor who in the 1980s began dying from plunging into powerlines and from drinking spilled antifreeze and other modern-world challenges. By 1987 there appeared to be only 22 individual birds remaining and biologists decided that the species’ survival depended on capturing the remaining condors and intiating a captive breeding program.
By 1996 the program was deemed a success, the birds were released and in 2003 a pair hatched and raised its young to fleding. Four pairs appear to be actively nesting now; two in the park and two north of the park. It is not uncommon to see these magnificent birds in flight over the canyon
Condors have a wingspan of 9-feet and using thermal updrafts, condors can soar and glide up to 50 miles per hour and, in search of food, travel 100 miles or more per day. In the wild, they can live up to 60 years; they mate for life. Every other year the female lays an egg which measures about five inches in length and weighs around 10 ounces.
It was as we sat on the train for the return trip to Williams that I was able to snap this picture. I was certain it was a condor as I considered its size and noted its white breast feathers. In the afternoons these elegant birds ride the warm thermals that surge through the Canyon. It was a splendid sight.
My devotional blog is here.
From time to time we humans spend hours that in the earthly scheme of things can only be rated perfect. Such were our days–Jerry’s and mine–this past Friday and Saturday on the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
The signal for the trip was rare, and its lofty nature of such significance that within our minds spun an expectation of pleasure and harmony beginning with the earliest moment of planning. On Friday Jerry and I stepped over another milestone in our lives as we embarked on our 53rd year of marriage.
The Grand Canyon is surely one of the most spectacular places on earth. In 1893 it was established as a forest reserve by President Benjamin Harrison, and in 1919, by President Theodore Roosevelt, was designated a national monument. The park is 277 river-miles long, an average of ten miles wide, and to reach the canyon floor requires a plunge one mile deep. Snaking a thin line at the base of the cliffs is the thundering Colorado River, without which there would be no Grand Canyon. It’s cool waters lunge and roar exploding in spume and foam…and then, again, lie placid and in a soft meander.
We always have this conversation, Jerry and I: What do you suspose was the reaction of the first person or group who viewed such a stunning place? How in the world did they feel as they stood before this gaping chasm? We never have an answer, of course, and as overwhelming as it is to view after hearing of it and even at prior times seeing it, we shake our heads as we think of the staggering awe that must have settled on those early explorers as they stood before that bucolic shrine.
We had visited both the south and north rim of the Grand Canyon many years ago when our children were young, and we viewed it as not only beautiful and awe inspiring, but as educational both for them and for us. As was true then, so now remains my frustration when I reach to describe that world-wondering scene. I grapple with words–is it that I need new langugage?–to write the land lay, the pitch of bird caw and the beating of wings. The rustle in the wind-brushed pinions meld with squirrel scramper and the faint sizzle of green lizard on white boulder.
Ultimately, such grandeur could only be carved by Almighty. Doubtless, He used geological forces and wind-swept eons, but the sight and sound of such magnificence demands a Creator, One whose thought and ways are impossible to comprehend. Words to tell are shy and impaired.
Laid atop such undergirding were two days of sublime rest and celebration. We checked in and found perfection.
My devotional blog is here.