Wildlife Wonders of Tanzania

My first experience of East Africa was in 1979, and it changed my life profoundly.  The wildlife and people of Kenya and Tanzania have become “family” to me–not replacing kinship but adding to it.  After the tremendous success of the June 2015 safari, I have set up two exciting and very different safaris in order to renew my connections there and give others the chance to experience the very best that an African safari can offer.

The next safari takes us off the beaten path using small planes to get us to wilderness parks few people are even aware of: Selous, Ruaha, Katavi, Mahale.  Here are details: Tanzania WILD: Explore the Exceptional (July 25-August 8, 2016).

The next will be in January-February 2017 when we can expect the Great Migration to be in the shortgrass plains of the southern Serengeti.  It also coincides with green landscapes, wildflowers, and tremendous bird populations as winged visitors for Europe and Asia join the African residents.  I hope you can join us! Tanzania Herds & Birds, Nature & Culture (January 25-Feb. 6, 2017).

A few months ago, I gave a presentation at Prescott College, and they video-taped it so that if you were not there, you can now, through the wonders of technology, experience that presentation and vicariously go on safari.

I, Pundit

The holiday season is upon us, that mathematically odd time of year when ads multiply, good friendships reap dividends, and politics remain as divisive as ever.  My in box and mail box swell with promises of deals so good that if I only spend enough, I can surely become rich.  Buy until you’re spent!  No money down!

The sporting goods catalogs promote insulated jackets so well that the market for down is up.  Which reminds me how our language (and corruptions of it) can bring us cheer well before happy hour.  When I hear someone say, “I am going to lay down,” I immediately visualize that person ovipositing feathers.  If those speakers realized what they were saying, I think they would be willing to lie a lot more readily.

Try to imagine this bird "laying down."

Try to imagine this bird “laying down.”

Our language simply invites word play, and as a man, I manipulate it. Continue reading

Hope has Wings

Hope has Wings

A Monarch & a College PresidentMonarch 102814

It’s late October here in Prescott, Arizona, and summer seems to be lingering, maybe loitering, as if it had nothing better to do.  Frost has yet to visit, and the warm afternoons invite shorts and light shirts, somewhat to the delight of the mosquitoes, who have not given up on summer either.

But the birds are not fooled.  Bald Eagles are showing up at the lakes, where the swallows are long gone.  Sparrows and juncos visit the feeders, far from their breeding grounds, while orioles and grosbeaks are likely sipping the avian equivalent of margaritas south of the border. Continue reading

Landscape Lunacy: Chaparral on Fire

29 June 2013.  Prescott, Arizona.  At Granite Mountain, eleven days after the eruption of the big Doce Fire, the smoke has cleared—mostly.  There are still hot pockets (inedible ones) with potential for flames to rise from the ashes and run amok again.  Mother Nature teases us with clouds trailing virga—and even a few drops of liquid that reach the ground—but the hot winds accompanying the clouds continue their mischief, and dry lightning ignites new blazes around the county.  A microburst (sorry, not an artisan brew) takes down trees in town and starts a fire.  The firefighters are still out there at the mountain, and aircraft drone overhead on their missions of attempted control.  But for most of us, the adrenalin has subsided; our fears have receded.

30 June 2013.  One of those fires started two days ago happened to be in Yarnell, and today it erupted into the disastrous fire that took the lives of 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, the same folks who fought the Doce Fire and, in the process, saved the sacred ancient juniper that may have watched the comings and goings of wildfire for millennia.  I was photographing the aftermath of the Doce Fire when I saw the terrible black cloud rising to the south, so I raced down there and watched from a safe distance as the flames engaged in the chaotic dance of pyrotechnics triggered by an advancing monsoonal cell.  I heard and saw the screaming influx of ambulances and feared for the worst—but it was even worse than my greatest fears.

Two major local disasters by fire in Yavapai County within two weeks.  Sorrow and grieving for beloved Granite Mountain (clearly personified in the emotions of many) and the brave firefighters dominate discussion.

28 July 2013.  Now a month later, our wounds healing with time, we can look at the context of these fires with a bit more rationality—or at least we should.  “Don’t mess with Mother Nature” is a common phrase, and it exemplifies our tacit willingness to shift responsibility to a perceived natural deity rather than accepting an obligation to live our lives as informed citizens of Planet Earth. Continue reading

Granite Dells & the Lakes

Granite Dells and the Lakes—Central to Arizona

In Arizona, a state noted for natural wonders, Yavapai County stands out.  Prescott’s physical environment—pine forests, chaparral, pinyon-juniper woodlands, grasslands, dramatic rock formations, and wetlands—is one of the reasons it is called “Everybody’s Hometown.”  Watson and Willow Lakes in the Granite Dells dominate this landscape.

For the entire month of June, the Prescott Public Library Viewerie will display more than thirty large (some up to six feet in length) photographs in professional gallery mounts of Granite Dells and the Lakes (Watson & Willow) that stand as the centerpiece of the Tri-city area of Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Chino Valley in Yavapai County, Arizona.  They represent the work of Walt Anderson, acclaimed nature photographer, and Joe Phillips, master printer.  A reception open to the public is set for Wednesday, June 6, from 5:30-7:30 pm at the library.

This site presents an expanded tour of the content and images, with bonus photos and text added, but it cannot replace the impact of seeing the images in live time.  Please try to visit the exhibition.  Images are for sale from the photographer (geolobo@cableone.net or 928-445-7470), and other images and sizes, individually and lovingly printed by Joe, can be created for your needs.  Here is the price list with images.

This exhibit celebrates our natural heritage and urges all citizens, including decision-makers, to prioritize protection and wise stewardship of our great natural assets.  Right here, right now, in the heart of this watershed, we must act to keep what we love. Continue reading

Taking Stock and Investing in Shares

Am I allowed to postdate a New Year’s Resolution?

Taking stock.  No, I am not talking about financial matters—something much more important actually.  The arrival of 2012 reminds me to reflect upon my life, not on transient accomplishments or on political or social disappointments.  Few of those things are lasting, scarcely more significant in my life than the taste of yesterday’s breakfast.  What was it that I ate, anyway?

What should be important is what I chose to share with others.  My vow this year—one that is much more realistic than how many pounds I will lose, how often I intend to work out, or what yard work I may or may not get to—is to open myself to greater sharing.  Sharing can take many forms, and my intentions are not limited to one form.  However, in this essay, I am indeed focusing on one thing—the written word.  For “in the Beginning was the Word.”  Continue reading

I am a Naturalist

It’s perfectly natural to jump to conclusions when you see that title. No, I do not run around outdoors in the buff (that’s “naturist”). If that disappoints you, then head off to some other blog. I may at times strip away pretensions and speak the naked truth, but that’s as far as it can go here. Well, since evolution’s bottom line is differential reproduction, much of life really is about sex, so I may not be able to resist some titillating tidbits of nature in the raw. Far more worrisome, perhaps, is the fact that I adore word play, so brace yourself for occasional verbal twists and turns, sometimes subtle enough that only the sophisticated will appreciate it and sometimes downright blatant and silly. Without levity, we are left with gravity, and that’s a downer, for sure.  Continue reading