nature

If you've ever finished a big project of whatever sort, one that took months or years, and required a kind of intensity and focus that left you feeling hulled out at the end of each day, you know something of what I'm feeling after sending my new memoir, the story I call Bless the Birds off to my agent last Monday.

Today was road trip day: I drove to Colorado Springs to do city errands, including buying cartridges for my computer printer necessary to finishing my memoir. I've been putting this trip off for weeks; I didn't want to spend a day and the energy required to make the four-hour, 230-mile round-trip drive.

Sphinx moth pollinating native penstemon flowers in a park reclaimed from an abandoned industrial site. Sphinx moth pollinating native penstemon flowers in a park reclaimed from an abandoned industrial site.
American Bushtits feeding on seedheads in a native rubber rabbitbush shrub. American Bushtits feeding on seed heads in a native rubber rabbitbush shrub. (Look closely and you'll see four of them--two of the tiny birds are inside the bush, two are on top.

Welcome to my every-so-often mid-week posts highlighting books on my reading stack. Some are books I've sought out, some come to me for review, and others are gifts.

The first one straddles the zone between science writing, nature journal, and memoir. That reach makes for a fascinating read.

One of my New Year resolutions is to "live generously." Which to me means not just being generous with other humans, but doing my best to live in a way that is generous to "all my relations," as my Indian friends say, the multitudes of other beings with whom we share this glorious blue planet.

My special cobalt blue solstice candle-holder My special cobalt blue solstice candle-holder that has traveled with me for decades....

Today is Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere. For me, the day when Earth's tilted rotation brings the sun to its farthest south arc across the sky marks the year's turning point.

Cottonwoods showing autumn's final colors along the Rio Chama. Cottonwoods showing bronzey-gold fire along the Rio Chama.
A selfie while driving--the road was straight, there was no other traffic, and right then there was no snow on the road.... A selfie while driving--the road was straight, there was no other traffic, and there was no snow on the road....
Terrace of the Golden Hotel, the main conference venue, overlooking Clear Creek. Terrace of the Golden Hotel, the main conference venue, overlooking Clear Creek.
Red and I head up Poncha Creek on our way to Marshall Pass Red and I head up Poncha Creek on our way to Marshall Pass. (I was not driving when I shot this photo!)

When I go looking for a new read, the proliferation of books is sometimes simply overwhelming. So when I discovered these two indie projects by authors I knew through previous work, I wanted to share them with you.

My front and side yard "wildscapes," mountain prairie restoration projects-in-progress. My front and side yard "wildscapes," mountain prairie restoration projects-in-progress.

I exhausted myself this weekend engaging in plant therapy. That's a good thing.

Calliope hummingbird perched in my own "hometown habitat." Calliope hummingbird perched in my own "hometown habitat."
Blazingstar flowers (Mentzelia sp.) open in early afternoon and attract night-flying moths and other pollinators. Blazingstar flowers (Mentzelia sp.) open in early afternoon to attract night-flying moths.
The first wave of rain goes by.... The first wave of rain goes by....

At about five-thirty this evening, a thunderstorm "walked" slowly down the valley on "legs of lightning," as the Navajo say. Jagged flashes struck the hills above town. Thunder boomed.

Dad and Mom in Tucson, Arizona. Photo from Audubon Magazine Dad and Mom in Tucson, Arizona. Photo from Audubon Magazine

When I called my Dad to wish him Happy Father's Day, he told me he had gone birding this morning with my brother.

"See anything interesting?"

"A Rock Wren."

'Poncha Pass Red' sulfur-flower buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum 'Poncha Pass Red') 'Poncha Pass Red' sulfur-flower buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum 'Poncha Pass Red')
The wide-open San Luis Valley with the Sangre de Cristo Range on the left, on the road to Durango. The wide-open San Luis Valley with the Sangre de Cristo Range on the left.

I've been on the road teaching and speaking so much this spring that I sometimes forget what is next.

Dr. William Austin Cannon, my maternal great-grandfather, out researching the Sonoran Desert near Tucscon, Arizona, in the early 1900s. Photo: Arizona Historical Society Library My great-grandfather, Dr. William Austin Cannon, out researching the Sonoran Desert near Tucson, Arizona, in the early 1900s.