Spring Walk and Story


In the arroyo behind the dam people have walked, ridden and run their dogs for years.  The city has recently been improving this area, making fixed trails.

P1010120The coursing water does not always agree.  Neither do I.  I want to say, “If you want me to stay on the trail, don’t pave it.”

P1010117There’s a section still only graveled along a fence which keeps people from wandering into a conservation area.  Except when it doesn’t.

P1010118There’s a story here:

Something was built.
Something was broken.

That’s the essence of story, but I have no idea of the particulars.  Make them up for yourself; the possibilities are numerous.

purple mat0119On my recent walk I found the first bit of purple mat “in the wild.”  It is already flourishing in the sheltered space of my back yard, where I have been encouraging it for years.purplemat home0121


One Day in Spring

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Not just on one day, but on one trip into the yard with the camera this past week, these different flowers all smiled at me, asking to have their picture taken.

P1000957Purple mat is a small flower which, this year, is here, there and everywhere in my yard, after some years of scarcity.

P1000954The iris came with the house.  That is, a few flat leaves showed up in unexpected places.  I’ve transplanted and fed them.  They seem to like being against the wall.  They take much more work than native flowers, and don’t last as long, but they were an accidental gift, so I keep caring for them.

P1000955No, these are not the same poppies I’ve shown before.  It’s a good year for them, they keep appearing in new spots.

With so little to smile at on the news these days, it’s a good thing we still have flowers.

Recommendation: One Earth Project


One earth?  Of course we all live on one earth, don’t we?  Yet, we don’t acknowledge this is all our actions.  Do we consume more than our share?  Are we depleting resources?  These questions have been around for a long time, without bringing people to new understandings of the place of humans on the earth.  Notice that I speak of “understandings” here, not of actions.  Action follows from belief structures.

Myths and religions grow up together.  Myths may have multiple meanings.  Religious leaders try to narrow them down.

I believe that sacred texts are meant to be encountered anew by each generation, each devout reader.  But we come to them with preconceptions, conditioning.  There’s the conditioning of our upbringing in Sunday School, perhaps.  But an even stronger influence may be the conditioning we have acquired from the society we live in.  Going back to reexamine our sacred text and to rethink meanings which have been handed down is a true spiritual quest.  It is how prophets are made.

Purple Mat

I put here a new picture of the purple mat in my yard.  Notice the curved edge beside it.  That is a 12” round stepping stone that provides a sense of scale for this small plant.  You have to be watching for it to see it.  This is a good metaphor for the voices of prophets in our midst.  You have to be listening for those voices, but they are there.  One such voice can be found on Lee Van Ham’s blog, The One Earth Project.  Lee has rethought some very old stories in Genesis, the story of Eden and of Cain and Abel.  His interpretations give new insight for people trying to relearn what seems in our day almost a lost art: to be one with the created world instead of using and, in some cases, abusing it.  And to stop living as if we had multiple earths to supply our needs.

Click on One Earth Project in the blogroll on the right of this page.  See where Lee’s thinking is taking him now.

After Desert Rain


My back yard is mostly sand.  At least twice previous owners have tried to grow grass there and given up, leaving the strings which once held sod together.  The ground is a pale yellow color.

Until the summer rains come.  Then all manner of weeds sprout up, providing a cover of green.  It is said that a weed is simply a plant in the wrong place, but I find the situation is more complicated than that.  Some weeds I pull as fast as I can: the lanky grass that goes to seed so quickly, and the pretty, spreading plant called goathead, whose yellow flowers turn into nasty pronged seeds that stick to cloth and hurt bare feet.

Purple Mat

Other weeds I have reclassified as wildflowers.  One of these is purple mat (Nama hispidum).  When we have a wet winter, which we did not this year, this low plant shows up across the desert where I walk.  In my yard, it likes the shady spots where moisture lasts a little longer.  I had to go out early to get a picture of it in the sun.  And even so, you can hardly make out the purple flowers.

Another native flower I’m fond of is limoncillo ((Pectis angustifolia).


Its English name, lemonweed, may reflect what most people think of it, but I think it’s lovely, with its thin leaves and yellow flowers.  I usually get a scattering of this.  This year, it has sprouted all around our small pool, as if it had been planted there.  How very nice of it!  I happily pull out all the competing weeds so that it can shine.

In this harsh desert climate I’ve had little luck at the kind of gardening I did in Pennsylvania. Even when I focus on heat-hardy plants, my seedlings fail to take hold and my vegetables die off before producing.  I’m dependent on nature and native plants to fill my yard.  After the poppies of early spring there were “wire lettuce” with its wee pink flowers, and stickweed, currently called “Velcro plant,” whose pale yellow flowers are best appreciated from a distance.  Then things got hot and dry.  After the rains come, purple mat and limoncillo arrive to give me joy.  They are a gift I did nothing to earn.