Coneflowers

Coneflowers

I love the look of the coneflower, with its long stem and cheerful, daisy-like bloom on top. It was originally a North American Prairie flower and actually has the ability to release a chemical that inhibits the growth of grasses around it. Talk about determined to survive and thrive. Of course, it’s in the nature of us humans to experiment so the flower is grown in gardens all across the country now. Even here in the desert, I’m hoping to have a few blooms in my own backyard. By the way, the scientific term for coneflower is echinacea and the Plains Indians had many medicinal uses for the roots of this plant.  

Honey Bees

Honey Bees

This spring, for the time in the twelve years we’ve lived in our Buckeye home, honey bees failed to arrive at our massively-blooming Palo Verde trees. Each year, one of my favorite things has been to stand beneath the tall, forty-foot branches, laden with gazillions of yellow blossoms, and savor the drone of the bees. No such thing happened this year. There were no bees in the trees.

Bryce Canyon Utah

Bryce Canyon Utah

Geologically speaking, a ‘hoodoo’ is, quote: a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland. (Source) It’s also called a ‘tent rock, fairy chimney or earth pyramid’. I learned the term ‘hoodoo’ after digging around — pun intended — for information about Utah’s Bryce Canyon, also a national park. Many of the photos I collected featuring the canyon are of this part of the national park. The Paiute Native Americans have a tradition about these hoodoos, that they are an ancient ‘Legend People’ turned to stone for “living too heavily upon the land”. (Source) See what you think about this fascinating place.

Cheesecake

Cheesecake

One of my funniest ‘growing up’ memories involved cheesecake. My mother loved to cook, including creating all kinds of desserts. But for some reason, she never baked a cheesecake. So, when I was a teenager and heard of cheesecake for the first time, I thought it sounded disgusting, as in cheese-plus-cake. Ugh! 

Pansies

Pansies

My mother and grandmother both had beautiful gardens so I definitely got the gardening bug from them. I also recall pansies being a staple in the spring. I think pansies are one of the sweetest, friendliest looking flowers around. They all have faces to me and when the wind blows it looks like they are smiling, nodding and having a grand time.

Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep

There was a time in United States history, when the bighorn sheep numbered as many as two million. But disease and overhunting had reduced their numbers to the mere thousands covering an area from Canada to Mexico. Disease, introduced by domesticated livestock, can to this day create an all-age death rate of 90% in an affected herd. 

Mongolia

Mongolia

Known most famously for Genghis Khan, golden eagle hunters, and white yurts, Mongolia has a population of around three million people in a country the size of half of Europe. It is the most sparsely populated country on the planet in relation to its size. Mongolia is located north of China and south of Russia. Parts of Mongolia border the forests of Russia’s Siberia.

Figs

Figs

I have two fig trees in my yard. Each has produced a handful of figs and I can hardly wait for it to produce a lot more. I love a tree-ripened fig. Just heaven.

Wisteria

Wisteria

I love the delicate, dangling blossoms of wisteria and I’m fascinated with this fast-growing plant. Sandra L. of North Carolina, who has commented many times on this blog, sent me the following photo with a wonderful description of wisteria: This vine used to be intertwined with a 100 foot Sweetgum tree which we had removed since it’s an evil tree that produced thousands of spiny hard balls in the Fall. I hated to see the vine go but I wanted the tree gone much, much more! I would estimate the vine had reached a height of about 75 feet and each year it would have increased in length. It was magnificent. Wisteria also grows wild all over the place. It’s very common to see them everywhere alongside the roads, up the trees and on embankments. It’s a sea of beautiful, purple clusters, averaging about a foot long or so. They are presently blooming.  It truly is an amazing sight to behold.

Donkeys

Donkeys

Prior to doing a bit of research on donkeys, my impression of this familiar beast-of-burden was that they can be uncommonly stubborn. Trying to get one to move can be like trying to get a river to flow the opposite direction. They dig in their hooves and won’t go anywhere. Come to find out, this isn’t about having a stubborn nature but more about their vulnerability as ‘prey’ animals. If they feel that an activity threatens their safety, they refuse to budge. However, once trust is gained, donkeys are very companionable and tractable. For me, the videos I found showed them in a whole new light.