Each day it gets a little bit closer to when we see our AZ house in our rear view mirror. We haven’t started packing yet, but to quote an acquaintance, we’ve begun packing in our minds.
What we’ve been focusing on (probably to avoid packing with our bodies) is doing some things we haven’t done before during our last few days before we leave. Last week, on a day when the temperature was going to be in the semi-reasonable range, we decided to embark on an adventure that was a mere 30 minutes from our front door – the Bryce Thompson Arboretum.
According to the dictionary, an arboretum is a botanical garden that contains collections of living plants and is intended at least in part for scientific study. Maybe that’s why it took so long for us to visit this nature center that is only a stone’s throw away. Scientific study = Study of scientific things. Since I flunked geology in college, science is clearly not my friend. Still, the day looked to be beautiful and anything was better than packing.
Not only did I flunk geology in college, I’m not particularly a nature lover. When one of my grandkids (and when I say “one of my grandkids” I’m generally talking about either Dagny or Maggie Faith) brings forth a worm or some sort of beetle to share with me, I quickly dispel the notion with a loud ewwwww. (By the way, I passed off my feelings about nature to my son Court, who, when he was about 14 or 15 years old, responded with an emphatic “I hate nature” when I invited him to enjoy a nature hike with me.) My sister Bec, on the other hand, is a nature lover. In fact, she volunteers as a docent at the Botanical Gardens in Phoenix. She knows the names of birds and plants; I know the names of candy bars and potato chips.
Before we even got into our car, we decided we would take the free tour they offer at the Arboretum. That way, we wouldn’t be tempted to run through the park at break-neck speed so that we could go to lunch. It was a very wise choice. The man who led the group tour is a retired geology professor from Michigan. He and his wife now volunteer at the Arboretum, and actually live on site. He provided the most interesting tour – one that even a non-nature lover such as me could understand and enjoy.
We saw many varieties of trees and cacti and flowery shrubs. We saw bird nests and pack rat nests and hummingbird and butterfly habitats. We learned everything we did (or didn’t) want to know about snakes and scorpions and tarantulas and something called a tarantula wasp. Don’t ask, but suffice it to say if you see a gigantic orange wasp, run for the hills. Our guide can tell me the wasp is more interested than tarantulas than me, but I’m not taking any chances. I hate nature.
I learned that Arizona is currently experiencing a drought. One would have thought that the fact that we haven’t had any moisture would have tipped me off. The dry conditions are causing the cacti to not blossom as they should. That explains why the prickly pear in our front yard that normally is sporting yellow blossoms by now looks non-blossomy.
In perhaps my most daring move of the day (aside from our dreadful lunch later on in Superior) was sitting under something called the Red Gum tree…..
Our guide said the natives call it the Widow Maker as it apparently drops huge limbs at a whim, which potentially fall on anyone standing under the tree. Bill seemed surprisingly eager to take this photo…..
One of my favorite AZ native plants is the ocotillo, a spindly-looking tree that looks dead until it begins to bloom, when it looks beautiful…..
The ocotillo has a cousin called the boojum tree. It is, as you can see, considerably taller…..
Cacti are hardy plants. They have to be, given where they grow. Here is a prickly pear that grows right out of the trunk of a tree. I love nature…..
Aside from the horrible lunch we had later that afternoon, our day was perfect…..
Perhaps I won’t let the word arboretum scare me any longer…..
This post linked to the GRAND Social.