You get what you pay for, they say. Today I collected a fortune, with interest, because I paid attention. Continue reading
Just as a migratory bird feels an irresistible inner urge teach fall, so do I experience a powerful restlessness satisfied only by ignoring my in-box, pushing aside the endless piles of papers begging to be shuffled, and taking off to some quiet corner of nature when I can embrace the changing of the seasons with full attention.
Autumn hasn’t been waiting for me—the aspens have scattered their yellow coins already up at Mt. Francis, and the maples have displayed their crimson badges at Mingus Mountain without my approval. I am not teaching my Interpreting Nature class this fall, which usually provides me a legitimate excuse to get out there. Thus, if I am not to miss the whole gaudy show of carotenoids, anthocyanins, and other pigments, I have to seize the moment, and yesterday afternoon I did just that. Continue reading
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org 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
A blustery stranger arrived unannounced on Friday. The day dawned clear like so many others. By 11 as I drove home from the college for a quick lunch, the unexpected guest had arrived, leaving the door open so that its forceful breath whipped up whitecaps on Watson Lake. Dust and leaves swirled in its powerful exhalations. Low clouds streamed over the rounded crests of the Bradshaw Mountains. Winter had suddenly returned to Arizona. Continue reading
After a day spent mostly at the computer screen, I need to stretch. Granite Dells stretches me, pulls me irresistibly into the mazes of outcrops and canyons, especially appealing when thunderheads have finished their rumbling and are sailing away across the heavens, mission accomplished.
I head toward Granite Creek, its cottonwoods pulsing with the choruses of strident cicadas. Though monsoon storms have been modest at best in this neighborhood, the weeds, native and otherwise, are dense and lush. Fortunately, mosquito populations here are lower than last year, and as long as I keep moving, I avoid serious blood-letting.
There are signs here indicating that this is a restoration area, and the twenty-foot cottonwoods and shorter velvet ash and hackberry trees are evidence that recovery is occurring. A developer had grand plans for this area, and he drained a small recreational lake that had been used by residents and tourists alike in the “good old days” of early Prescott. He also cut out the willows and cottonwoods that framed the pond and leveled the whole works for his development. There were plans for a bridge across Granite Creek where now there is a fair-weather ford—a bridge that might have impeded Wood Ducks and Black-Hawks as they flew up and downstream searching for food. With money pouring from his deep pockets and machines moving the earth with seeming impunity, he didn’t take one thing into account: his development was right next to the property of one of the Dells’ most colorful characters, Happy Heavenly Oasis (no, this is not a pseudonym). Continue reading
In nature, every sound has meaning.
Stepping out of the house this morning to scatter a handful of bird seed for the local quail and other welcome guests, I heard an unexpected sound—a few series of sharp, somewhat hollow kowp calls that made my hair stand on end. A Yellow-billed Cuckoo! As our house sits atop a dry jumble of granite boulders, one of the last birds I expected to get on my yard list was the stream- and thicket-loving cuckoo, but there it was. Unmistakable if you know the sound. And the calls were coming from appropriate habitat, the green ribbon of cottonwood, willow, and ash trees that follows Granite Creek a hundred yards or so away. Continue reading