Thursday, January 21, 2010

It’s Pajama Day!

Jan. 21, 2010

I love a rainy day! I slept in until 6 a.m. enjoying the sounds of rain on Jeremiah’s roof. A cup of hot peppermint tea slightly sweetened Saguaro blossom honey - and a good book – what could be better than having a ‘pajama day’?

The last of three storms have arrived, bringing rain to the Valley of the Sun and snow/sleet to higher elevations – and it will be a strong storm bringing as much as 5 inches of rain before it passes through. And it’s a good day to finally post to my blog.

I’ve been putting off writing a blog entry thinking that – with a couple of exceptions – the days were sort of the same. Did I have anything interesting to write about? As the days pass here at Cave Creek Regional Park, some are for park work and some are all mine.

Then this morning’s devotions brought me to my senses. Writer Roberta Messner wrote, “…A day the Lord has made... is absolutely priceless. There would never be another one exactly like it in all my life. A day full of things to see and hear and do, a day touched with the presence of God in every moment of every hour.”

While pondering that thought, I mentally examined the past few weeks. There WERE special things to write about, so here goes with my first blog entry in 2010.

Valley of the Sun ‘winter’

The warm days here in the Valley of the Sun attract people from the cold and snowbound states; some come for the season and some only for a few days. I’m blessed to be here to enjoy short-sleeve weather during the day.

Awesome and interesting new acquaintances

My mobile lifestyle brings many opportunities to make connections with fellow travelers. We trade email and blog addresses and part with “see you down the road” – and surprisingly at times our paths do cross again. And if not, we follow them via their blogs and email messages.

Stephanie from Minnesota

A recent friendship was struck with Stephanie. While most campers are snug in an RV, she spent several weeks here in her Jeep-Tent. She is here to volunteer at The Phoenix Herpetological Society (a reptile sanctuary). Her tent, which is made to connect with her Jeep, is very spacious, and with a small electric heater, she’s been toasty warm during our chilly (temps in the 40s) night.

She is a fascinating person on many levels – she’s from Minnesota, a stroke survivor, been through several back operations, and has been able to spend three months here for her volunteer time. On her last day here, she invited me to join her at the reptile sanctuary. What an experience! Besides snakes, lizards, alligators, crocodiles, iguanas, lizards – many venomous and dangerous – they have at least three wallabies. The facility has hundreds of critters that they care for – feeding, giving medical care where needed, and such.

While I was there, one of the huge – several hundred pounds – tortoises took advantage of an open door to escape. That guy could really move and was about 25 yards away when I found him. (That’s my foot in the photo so you can see how big he is.) He/she was determined to head south - while I waited for someone to move the tortoise, I took photos and had a nose-to-nose talk with this huge critter.

Park volunteers – we’re all finally here

The last two volunteer couples straggled in this month – one from Ohio one from Pennsylvania. And my friend Carol Rayburn is staying here through the winter as a volunteer. We have six couples and three singles (counting me).

Annual Christmas Bird Count

This was my second year to participate in this bird count. I’m much better at identifying birds, but not nearly as quick as my counting partners who were highly experienced pros at this. The one-day count goes from sun-up to sun-down and our group was assigned a fairly large area that included the former Phoenix landfill, two golf courses, a riparian area alongside Cave Creek, and Cave Creek Regional Park. I have not seen the final tally, but we saw plenty of different birds/water fowl. New for me this year was seeing a Ross’ Goose, Redhead Duck, and Horned Lark. I also found what I'm calling a "well-feathered nest" - a Cactus Wren has taken advantage of feathers to make its nest in a Cholla (aka jumping cactus). Here are photos I took - double click the photos to enlarge them:

Moonlight hike to the Clay Mine

This park event – almost always during daytime – usually gets from 12 to 20 visitors; and other night time hikes get about the same number. For the night-time mine hike I volunteered to be the ‘tail-ender’. As cars continued to arrive at the parking lot, it was obvious this would be a large gathering. Final count was 98 adults and children!

Books read: Verde Valley Lore, More Verde Valley Lore and Chicken Soup for the Nature Lover’s Soul. And I read – for the third time in the past years – The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich. Rather than watch TV, I prefer to read books and thanks to the local library’s recent book sale, I’m loaded with a variety for these long winter nights.

Cat seems happy to stay inside, and that’s a good thing since park rules say “all pets on leash when outside.” She does not like to be on a leash. She has a ring-side seat to nature, watching birds, coyotes, rabbits – and who knows what at night time. At night she usually sleeps on my bed – queen size with an electric blanket. If things go according to plan, Cat and I will spend about five days at our Prescott Valley home next week.

That’s it for this time – here’s something to ponder:

This is our purpose: to make as meaningful as possible this life that has been bestowed upon us; to live in such a way that we may be proud of ourselves; to act in such a way that some part of us lives on.

--Oswald Spengler