Friday, April 6, 2012

Poppy Shots

For three winters, just after we retired in 2008, Mary and I were blessed with the opportunity to live in Arizona. I don't mind Michigan winters. We cross country ski on trails in our own woods.

I get to blow snow through a blizzard, then get more fresh air when I shovel it.

I go ice fishing across the road on Mc Carthy Lake. Once I convinced our daughter Sarah to join me.

Sarah is showing the equipment we use: auger, ice skimmer, little rods to "jig", and layers of warm clothes. Those nice 7" to 8" Bluegills will be eaten the same night. First, I need to scale them and fillet them, so Mary can cook them...

                                                           Sarah, however, likes sushi!

                                                                  Here Dad, try one.

I have shoveled snow in Michigan for over 50 years, and I've run outside through 33 winters, so Mary and I were ready for an adventure in sunny, warm Arizona.

I wrote our rental criteria in a Craig's List ad. A kind, easy going, gregarious man from St. Paul, Minnesota named Bob responded the next day. He had a soothing voice, and was a good listener; which I admire in a person. Bob offered his home near Tucson at a reasonable rate that we could afford. Plus, he turned out to be the perfect landlord for us. We had not rented since 1971! Thank you Bob.

We settled in a retirement community called SaddleBrooke,(SaddleBrooke) and it was like a resort atmosphere. Mary and I were considered youngsters there: still in our early 60s.
The amenities at SaddleBrooke were amazing to us:

We found a wonderful church nearby, (Santa Catalina)

with a close, spectacular view of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

This is a portion of SaddleBrooke from near the main entrance. These fine homes are filled with fine, friendly people from all over the U.S.

I joined the Running Club (a Michigander running shirtless got some strange looks, but I was hot!). The Men's Bible Study welcomed me. Thank you Lee, from Big Arm, Montana. I hooked up with the Swim Club and Biking Club. Mary and I joined the 400+ member Tennis Club, and played outdoors 3-5 times a week. We sat on our sunny patio to eat and read. We slept well each night.

You must check out SaddleBrooke ( if you're old enough. You will absolutely love it!

I must tell the truth now. We did have a 3" snowfall which melted by noon. Here's Rich with the rare AZ Snowboy.

In future posts, I will rave about the excellent Birding in southern Arizona. After 30+ years of birding about the country, Mary and I added 43 new species to our "Life List" over our first two winters. One in particular was a real prize. Let's just call him E.T. Have you guessed it already?

Okay Rich, move on to the topic: "Poppy Shots".

The winter of  '09 - '10 was unusually wet, for Arizona. This produced one of those occasional "Desert Blooms" for the Spring. Saguaro National Park - West showed off with its own bloom.

Here's my wife Mary; pretty in the poppies...

...and an old geezer she's been hanging with for 40 years!

We walked the horse trails just east of Oro Valley surrounded by undulating hills of Mexican Poppies.
Many people called them California Poppies.

Approaching closer with my camera, I was grateful for that "wet winter", and the warm spring. I am loving this Sonoran Desert.

Coming closer, the yellow intensifies. Deeper. Vibrant. Alive!

Now I notice the delicate petals sprinkled with pollen, overlapping margins, the barely discernible veins. Within the bowl formed by these petals, deep yellow becomes slightly orange.

Words are weak here, compared to this stunning display of reality. I am humbled once again by God's marvelous creation!

Okay, too much yellow today? Let's play... with "Picasa". I just upgraded to version 3.9

                                                                         "Red Neon"

                                                                          "Heat Map"


                                                                       "Pencil Sketch"



                                                                         "Neon Blue"

It's been fun to experiment with these cool effects, but hard to step away from the play. I'm at the end of my day, but before I say goodnight...

If you haven't been to the Sonoran Desert around Tucson, I encourage you to experience it. Maybe SaddleBrooke (SaddleBrooke) has a place available. Say "Hi" to Bob for me. He is now retired, and living in "OUR" house!

Thanks for reading.