At the Albuquerque Zoo, there are plenty of animals; birds, monkeys, a tiger or two, penguins, giraffes, jackals,zebras. They are well cared for in their little enclosures and we can stand at a rail and admire their coloration, adaptations, behaviors. There will come a time when the only animals we will see will be in zoos, but there are still places in the world where animals spend their days and don’t ever see a human.
This hippo, bless his or her heart, is swimming in a pool and exhibits a playful spirit. It is easy to think animals have no personality or spirit of their own, but those, who have pets, know that animals show a wide range of emotions and behaviors, and can do things one wouldn’t expect.
Pushing the ball just ahead of its huge mouth, this playful hippo walks in his pool because these river horses don’t really swim, but walk along the bottom of rivers or pools as they hold their breath under the water. They are speedy and quite dangerous in the wild
Joan has her camera in action and there are engaging shots to be had. It is still winter and, though a pleasant day, it will be colder for several months before animals come out of their enclosures for most of the day.
Until Scotttreks hits the road again, this zoo will have to do.
If I were to organize a parade, this star of the show would have to be in the first slot.
While turtles are cool, hippos, looking ungainly and mis-proportioned, steal this show with surprising grace and playfulness.
At this point, with almost seven hundred posts, thousands of photographs, almost a hundred videos, and five years on line as Scotttreks, it seems like a Dedication is due.
Many, if not all, literary works, art, music, drama and dance presentations have dedications, moments at the front of the effort that recognize significant influences on the person who has taken the time and effort to put things out there for others to enjoy, analyse, pan, or profit from.. Sometimes it is a wife, children, teachers and mentors who get the nod. Sometimes it is personal secretaries and editors who help ideas get to a place they can be loosed on the world, Sometimes dedications are to God, Muses, spirits and traditions
There are plenty of places and people to dedicate Scotttreks too,but it seems right to thank my parents for giving me their name, their attention, their love and concern.
While they haven’t put the words in my mouth or on paper, haven’t suggested what I do or don’t do, they always wanted the best for us that we could make for ourselves.
This little blog, with places still to go and time left to go there, is dedicated to Julia Ann and James Lowell.
I like to think they are reading the blog, wherever they are, happy that I am happy writing it.
Mornings and evenings at Hermit’s Lakes are natural wonders.
The lake, this evening, is without ripples. Fish rise with a splash to the water’s surface for flies, an eagle lazily circles above us, watching the lake’s surface for the same fish we are trying to catch. Richard and Maria share a bench, all of us fishing hard as the sun drops and you hunker in your jacket to keep warm.
It will be dark soon.
Ninety nine out of a hundred people would say this is a good definition of paradise and they wouldn’t be wrong.
Whether all this natural wonder is by design or the result of chaotic chance is a question I ponder with the same intensity of a kid playing with a rubric cube.
None of us three say anything to upset the balance this evening, our planet a colorful top spinning on a sidewalk, a perpetual motion machine set in motion with one flip of God’s wrist.
The fish this evening must be enjoying the sunset as much as we are.
We don’t come from some ” holler” in back woods Kentucky mountains with our best coon dog sleeping on our front porch, pop’s favorite whiskey “still ” covered by brush down by the river, grandma’s hot fresh baked biscuits on the table and you better not be late for breakfast if you want to have anything left to eat when you get there.
Bluegrass music was created around fires on nights like this, on people’s front porches, at family cookouts with cheap Chinese lanterns hung in trees for decorations, folks rocking in chairs on their front porches. Back in mountain hollers there weren’t televisions, cell phones, indoor plumbing, or microwaves for quick dinners. People read the Bible, if they could read, and kids didn’t go to school but learned how to fish, shoot squirrels, pitch pennies, and say their prayers real nice.
Alan and Joan have a music discussion. Neal keeps our camp fire bright, and Max and Weston play their instruments just fine.
The spirit of bluegrass here is as meaningful as what we will hear under the big festival tent tomorrow.
Going back to our rural roots, especially if we live in big cities, is what bluegrass is all about.
The High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival runs July 10-13 at the Bluff and Summit Park in Westcliff, Colorado.
A huge circus tent is set up in the town park with spectacular views of the mountains and valley nearby. In the 2010 census, the population of Westcliff was 568, up from 417 in 2000. 15 bands played this year and festival attendance was close to 4000. The Festival is a fundraiser for children of the area and helps with medical services for the town. In the last fifteen years, the event has raised almost $600,000 towards its charitable goals.
In a town of 568, you know everyone, and everyone is involved in their town. There are volunteers running shuttles that pick us up in the festival parking lot and run us up the hill to the music tent. Volunteers haul trash away, direct traffic, provide first aid services, sell tickets ,and one of them wraps the four day green wristband around my wrist and fastens it.securely. If I remove the band I will have to buy another to get back inside the grounds. For four days, we listen to and enjoy all the banjo, guitar, mandolin, upright bass and vocal music we can handle.
When, as one of the musicians says on stage, talking about a song he wrote, you move from a country where seventy percent of people lived in the country and farmed, to a country where seven percent of the population feeds the other 93%, you are seeing real change.
When people don’t know where their food comes from, they tend to lose their humility.
When the country disappears from America, we have lost ourselves.
Bluegrass should be in every music collection, even if you don’t know where the country is and would never go there of your own free will.
I didn’t get a builder’s tour but this birdhouse comes with a sturdy shingle roof, spacious front porch, and a back door that can be opened to clean inside. The home’s front door is a round hole, big enough for a small sparrow to enter but small enough to keep out a coyote, hawk, or house cat.
This is one of Charlie’s birdhouse masterpieces..
The last one he made was more complex, a bird mansion looking like a traditional New Mexico Pueblo, complete with ladders to the roof and a ceremonial Kiva. We all agreed it should be hanging in an art gallery but it is destined for Tennessee for grand kid’s and a lucky bluebird family, winner of the Greater South Birdhouse Raffle.
Us Charlie supporters haven’t been on line yet to see what the going price is for “custom” birdhouses . Charlie makes his for free for family and friends so he has the best price in the world. Even a dirt poor rice farmer in Vietnam can’t sell his birdhouse for nothing.
If I were a bird, I would park my feathers inside this roomy mansion, turn on my Netflix and watch Hitchcock’s ” The Birds” ,or a documentary on Charlie “Bird” Parker with my favorite beverage by my recliner.
I would move into this birdhouse now, in a second, if i could just squeeze through the small round front door.
New Mexico, before statehood, was an American territory wrested from Mexico in one of America’s many wars.
In 1912, we became a state and were lucky to do so.There were plenty of critics, then, as now, who suggested New Mexico has more in common with Mexico than the United States, has a backward uneducated population, is not nearly close to being civilized. In our early days, outlaws like Billy the Kid shot up people, miners lived a tough and tumble life camped out in nearby ravines looking for gold, and cattle ranchers hung cattle thieves from cottonwood trees.
The Cerrillos Station is a new, remodeled version of an old General Store that our family visited back in the fifties.The coffee is fresh, the owners cordial, the merchandise arty and fashionable. The repertory theater that produced melodramas in the 50’s for families is no where to be seen but this little town is still typical small town New Mexico with adobe walls, pinon rail fences, garden plots in back yards, fifth wheels pulled up to utility poles, dogs running around unattended and without leashes.
Friends Robert and Eric, who came along for the ride, enjoy their coffee, and we take a quick break before heading back down the road to Madrid, another New Mexico mining town turned into a hippie hideaway and retreat for non-conformist souls who aren’t much different than the neighbors they live next too.
The old pictures of Cerrillos, in black and white on the shop’s walls, make me wonder how the Hell this territory ever made it to being an American state?
I guess those back room politicians just didn’t want to see a gap on the U.S. map between Arizona and Texas?
Either you are hungry, uncomfortable, scared, envious, or in love. Sometimes you are just bored and want to change because you can.
Chip and Lori want to live simple and live free as far from civilization as they can get.
” It’s an experiment, ” Chip says, and, thankfully, his wife is going along with it. Moving in a different direction than your spouse is like trying to row a boat with oars going in opposite directions.
Sitting around a campfire at night, under more stars than we can see, their new experiment oddly feels like home, even if the wind whips up and the cold sneaks in under my bedroll and makes me wake up in the middle of the night.