Birthday Adventure

April 21, 2017

Today, I am honoring myself.  It is my 40th birthday and I am spending it outdoors in the wilderness of Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas.  I can think of no better way to celebrate than by reveling in the wonders of the natural world.  I cannot think of anywhere else that I would feel such a sense of peace and connection with the grand web of life – a connection which particularly bears reflecting on as I look back on my own life these past 40 years.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is in west Texas, and it appears that most people haven’t heard of it.  As a result, it is less trodden than some of our other national parks, but that certainly is not due to a lack of beauty.

In fact, these mountains are more spectacular than I could have possibly ever imagined,  I’m generally not drawn to desert climates, but I am completely enchanted with the rugged beauty of this landscape.  These mountains rise up out of the desert with such strength and force, and they seem to be alive and breathing with the wisdom of the millennia.

I am also surprised by the incredible diversity of plant life here and the amazing array of textures.  I am enthralled by the tender leaves of the maples and oaks, and I love seeing them juxtaposed against the spiny desert plants.  And the wildflowers are just incredible!  You wouldn’t believe how many different kinds and colors there are!  You simply have to take the time to notice.

I love being exposed to so many different and unfamiliar living things.  I feel as though I am meeting many new friends, all of whom are helping to ring is this new year and new decade.

Here are some pictures from my week long camping trip, including a day excursion to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  Enjoy!

IMG_9971.JPG

Birthday hike! 

DSC09857.jpg

DSC09844.jpg

DSC09834.jpg

DSC09805.jpg

A jackrabbit

IMG_0028.JPG

A rattlesnake! (Rob zoomed in with his phone to take this photo.)

IMG_0102.JPG

IMG_0099.JPG

IMG_0110.JPG

Blooming prickly pear cactus

IMG_0116.JPG

IMG_0087.JPG

Hiking on a chilly day.  Daytime temps were between the 60s and the 80s.

DSC09907.jpg

Sunrise in the Chihuahuan desert

DSC09895.jpgDSC09832.jpg

DSC09853.jpg

DSC09873.jpg

DSC09952.jpg

Draperies in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

DSC09959.jpg

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

DSC09985.jpg

“Mirror Lake”

DSC09991.jpg

These formations reminded me of long slender trees 

Advertisements

Spring: The Most Sensory Season

At last!  Spring is here!  The air is alive with birdsong and the warm glow of the sun. The phoebes are back and are diligently working on their nests, a squirrel is chattering on the branch of an old oak, and a newly emerged chipmunk darts in and out of a stone wall like a beachgoer carefully dipping his toe to test the water. (Come on in!  The water’s fine!)  Everyone seems to be feeling a sense of energy and excitement.

I don’t know if it’s just my imagination, but even the bare branches and dried out remnants of last year’s growth seem cheerful today.  The sweet fern with old leaves like curled up claws, the mountain laurel with the kernels of last year’s blossoms, the wild blueberries with tiny buds less than 3 mm long – they all seem filled with the potential of great things to come.

To me, there is no season that fills the senses as much as spring does.  My soul is thirsty for the sight and fragrance of new growth.  And when I listen to the music of nature’s song, I hear it, not simply with my ears, but with my whole heart.  To quote Aldo Leopold, it is “a vast pulsing harmony – its notes the lives and deaths of plants and animals, its rhythms spanning the seconds and the centuries.”  It is the music of the ages, and of life itself.

eastern_phoebe_web_lg

Eastern Phoebe