Do You See?

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It’s almost June which means that here in Tucson we are entering a dry, dry season.  I expect that we won’t see another drop of rain until the monsoons start, usually in July some time.  As you can see in the photo above it’s pretty crisp out there;  the canyon that was full of color a month ago has become a classic desert landscape.  That being said the desert is still full of unexpected delights, but it’s very easy to miss them if you’re not paying attention.

Getting My “Kid Mind” On

Yesterday during our walk we saw lots of families.  The weather was perfect and it was a little later than we usually go so this wasn’t surprising.  We were tooling along when we heard the excited voice of a 7 or 8 year old boy.  He had noticed this

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and was calling to his mother who was grimly walking along ahead of him pushing a baby stroller up a hill.  He caught up with his mother and shared the wonder of his discovery (“it must have been an animal that did that!!!”), and his mother responded in some way that effectively ended the conversation.  While I wish that this boy’s mother could have joined with him in his wonder,  I started thinking about all that we don’t see because we are too preoccupied to look.  It’s virtually impossible to grow into adulthood and not have our childlike way of perceiving the world disappear.  But I fervently believe that we can reconnect with that “kid mind” and really start seeing.

Today I took my camera along on our walk with the intention of getting a shot of the cactus with the hole in it that so delighted the young boy.  Along the way I saw some incredible things.

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Amid all the brown on this hillside I caught a glimpse of the yellow/orange blooms of a cactus that (if I remember previous years) blooms later than most.  I zoomed in for a closer shot:

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These blooms aren’t quite as vivid as I remember but that bit of color was quite a treat.  The saguaros are also past their peak and most of them look like this:

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A few of the flowers are hanging on but many have wilted.  But this was an unexpected sight:

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At first I thought it was a pink flower but upon closer inspection:

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It appeared to be a fruit!  And just in case I wasn’t completely sure:

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This guy clearly dove in head-first!  Good for him.  Hopefully he will not be using our pool for a bird bath!

Finally on the road home we caught a glimpse of this:

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With the zoom lens…

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And last but not least:

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Beauty is everywhere even when it doesn’t seem like there’s very much to see. Or hear. Or taste. Or smell. Or feel.

We just need to open up and let it in.

 

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The View from Behind

This morning David and I decided to hike in the canyon rather than do our usual walk.  There’s a wonderful collection of trails, and over time we’ve pieced together routes that work for us–ones that alternate between climbing and meandering with beautiful views all around.  We love to feel the unique energy of the canyon walking on the dirt and rocks. We haven’t taken one of these hikes since I started blogging so I decided to take my camera along in case there were shots I wanted to capture for a future post.

To get to the trails, we start out on the road walking side by side. Once we turn off the road we have to walk single file.  With eager anticipation I lifted up my camera  and here’s what I saw:

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Now this is my guy, and I’m happy to be gazing at him from any direction, but this wasn’t the view I was hoping for. This view, however, got me thinking.  I was on the trail bringing up the rear.  And it made me think of a time in the not-too-distant past when I would have been uncomfortable not being in the lead.

When I moved to Scottsdale twelve years ago I started hiking in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.  To a newcomer like me the terrain looked scarily undifferentiated.  Plus, I was afraid of the desert wildlife, particularly rattlesnakes.  Armed with the universal warning of “watch where you put your hands and feet at all times” I  cautiously set out.  I hiked mostly alone although occasionally I had company.  I did see rattlesnakes, big ones, and I hiked more than a few times with only coyotes to keep me company. Even as I became more experienced and comfortable with the trails I knew that I needed to be very vigilant in order to be safe.  And that, in a nutshell, was my comfort zone.  I needed to know the route.  I needed to have enough water. I needed to be ready for anything. I needed to take care of myself.

During my childhood there were many ways that the vigilance=safety message was introduced and reinforced in my high-anxiety family.  On the positive side, this led to my sister and me striving to be competent and independent. What I didn’t learn, however, was how to depend on another.  In order to stave off feelings of being unsafe I had to manage everything.  On the hiking trails I had a hard time relaxing when hiking with other people if I wasn’t in the lead, and often my friends knew the trails better than  I did.  I simply couldn’t trust their competence.

When David and I first started hiking together I was often in the lead because I knew the trails a little better, but a big part of me was ready to relinquish my life-long role of “person who knows best”.  I longed to relax and let him take care of things up front–actually what I longed for was for him to take care of me. As soon as David knew his way around he did just that, and we’ve pretty much settled into a David in front, me in back routine.

In truth, the hike is glorious from both perspectives, it’s just a bit of a different hike depending on where you are.  David has the more expansive and lovely view but he also needs to be watching out for snakes and gila monsters as well as calling my attention to things like this:

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and this:

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From the back I have the more limited view, but freed from the need to be constantly scanning I can have a more meditative and peaceful experience.  And every so often I spot something pretty spectacular from the rear:

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Something I’ve learned though is that depending on David (or anyone) is not about losing anything or at any time being less than the thinking, perceiving  person I am.   I bring my skills and strength to our relationship no matter which one of us is leading the way.  The power of this healthy interdependence is far more impressive than any go-it-alone show of competence.  What I do know is that whether I am leading or following, my goal is that we  arrive together and always take time to enjoy the view.

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Good Morning Tucson

Our Morning Walk

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When we were ready to buy a house in Tucson one of our “must-haves” was a great view of the mountains.  As avid hikers we also hoped to find a house near one of the many trailheads in the area.  The home we moved to almost two years ago not only has views of the mountains on three sides but is also walking distance to Sabino Canyon, a vast and beautiful park in the Coronado National Forest.  Tourists to the area make it a point to visit this incredible natural setting, and the fact that we can walk right in still blows my mind.

At first, I would go off hiking in the canyon after David left for work and we would hike together on the weekends.  Last summer however we discovered that if we left early enough (we’re talking 5 am here) we could do a brisk four mile walk  in the canyon and David could comfortably get to work.  Early walking and hiking is pretty standard here because the searing heat of the summer months makes it difficult if not dangerous to hike later in the day.

So, we have been waiting patiently for the sun to rise early enough so that we could resume our early morning walks together.  This has been our first week back out there, and I wanted to share some of the amazing scenery of sunrise in the canyon.

The Walk Out

The photo above shows the saguaros that welcome us on our way in with the sun just peeking out in the east.  In a matter of minutes (seconds?) it looked like this:

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Because we are walking rather than driving into the canyon we enter by way of a road that is closed to visitors’ cars.  We then join with the main road (also closed to visitor traffic but used for service vehicles and tourist trams that run after 9am) that actually meanders for about seven miles into the canyon.  This is what welcomes us:

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The beautiful palo verde trees line this road, and while my camera doesn’t quite capture it, the contrast of the trees’ yellow blooms and the still-dark canyon is gorgeous.  In short order though the sun peeks out and the canyon appears:

 

 

 

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Sabino Canyon is a busy place, especially at this time of year, but in the early morning we can still feel like the only ones out there.   A wonderful experience of vast stillness and beauty.

The Walk Out

After about a mile into the canyon (and it’s pretty much all this spectacular) we turn to retrace our steps out.  By that time the sun is up and creating amazing views in every direction.  I’ll let these shots speak for themselves:

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The Road to Home

As we near our house we slow down and take a moment to reflect on how lucky we are to live in a place like this:

 

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Life is good.