Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Belated Mother's Day Post

I suppose I can be forgiven for missing a post last weekend. I was busy with cleaning on Saturday and spending the day with my son on Sunday. I enjoyed every minute of it, including cleaning the bathroom. Okay, maybe not cleaning the bathroom.

When asked what I wanted to do for my day (other than eating out), my first thought was to go to Saguaro National Park East. The park is split in two, one on the east side of Tucson and one on the west side. The west half of the park has the more spectacular views of saguaros, but I live very close to the east side and I wanted to explore it. I'd been there over a year ago, driving the loop in a rental car on one of the free weekends the park service has each year, and always intended to go back and hike some of the trails. One in particular, which passes by the remnants of an old mine, intrigued me. I don't know what it is about mines. We all have those touchpoints that light our imaginations and mines seem to be one of mine.

However, my son didn't seem too enthusiastic about what the U.S. Forest Service Ranger described as "a few rocks on the ground" because the shaft had been filled in by the Civilian Conservation Corps long ago for safety reasons. The ranger suggested taking the trail to the remains of the Freeman Homestead. He said there wasn't much there, just the remains of the foundation, but it was a destination.

But there is always the beauty of the desert against the backdrop of the mountains in Tucson. One of the highlights of our short hike was seeing an owl. If you look closely at the tree in the upper part of the picture, just right of center, you can see him (or her) perched among the branches. The owl kept watching us as if wondering when we'd continue on our way and let him go back to his nap. Here's a close-up if you still can't pick him out in the larger picture.

It's late spring in the desert and that means the cactus are starting to bloom. One of the great joys of living here year-round is seeing this every year. Tourists come mostly in the winter, so they miss all the marvelous colors.


 The saguaro blossom is our state flower. It grows at the tops of the arms, a pure white that stands out from the green. By the end of June, the flowers have given way to bright red fruit which can be harvested. The Tohono O'odham have an annual ceremony centered on the harvest of the fruit of the saguaro. You can read about that here.





The saguaro is not the only cactus in bloom this time of year. There's also the prickly pear (top left) and the cholla (bottom right).




You can see that this is just the start of the bloom season. In a week or two, they'll be covered with vibrant blooms.







So that was my Mothers Day. It was perfect!

Note on book reviews. I've been reading "Game of Thrones" lately, inspired by the HBO series (which I haven't seen since I don't get HBO) and the fact that it was a Nook free book not too long ago. This is another 700-plus page book, so it will take me a while to finish it. As soon as I'm done, a review will appear on the following Wednesday.
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