Photography

One More Run for Staples

In our recent post where we discussed taking a run for staples down to the valley, we commented that we were going to have to make one more run down that way before the holidays (and the traffic congestion that goes with them). Well, today was the final run for the season until after the first of the year unless something urgent comes up.

In the clickable image above (courtesy Damsel), you can see the main drag of our sleepy little town with relatively light traffic even though the snowbirds, rodeo ropers and other seasonal visitors are already here. We were blessed with light traffic all the way until we got into the west valley proper today. Then, we were in the thick of the traffic although it was not as bad as we have seen in past excursions.

Damsel and I arrived at the “Big W,” parked and went into the store with a list of things to get and proceeded to perform what I call “surgical shopping,” which is to navigate to where items on the list are available, put them into the cart and when finished, get to the check-out stand. We did pretty well although we both were distracted from the strict “mission” when seeing something “shiny” or otherwise attractive. Once we had all that was on the list (and a few other items) we headed for the check-out and after a short wait, were headed back out to the truck.

The traffic heading home was not too bad and, as usually is the case, became progressively lighter the closer to home we were. We are glad that this trip, although during a busy season in the valley, was not as big a pain in the backside as it might have been.

End of Red Bird Season

It’s that time of the fall when the Red Bird Of Paradise (a.k.a. Pride of Barbados) shrubs in the courtyard are about through with their annual production of gorgeous flowers (and pea pods). Within the next few days, we will be cutting them back to the ground for the winter. However, they will be back by next late May or early June for another colorful season.

This year, we’re going to remove the shrubs one per week; trying to cut back all three of them in one day is pretty labor intensive and fills our trash bin to capacity. So we’re going to attack the first one this week, perhaps in the morning.

We have an appointment with the hospital lab tomorrow morning for blood work — we visited our primary doctor today who ordered some routine tests for us, so the courtyard work will come after we get home and eat a late breakfast (the tests require that we be fasting).

The image above (click to enlarge) is of some of the last flowers on one of the shrubs. Camera: Canon EOS Rebel SL1, 1/200 sec, F28, ISO 1000, Aperture Priority, Lens EF-S55-250mm @ 135mm.

UPDATE 1 — 10/07/2022: One down, two to go. There are still viable flower pods to open on the remaining shrubs, so they will likely remain there for another week or two, to the delight of hummingbirds, bees, sphinx moths and butterflies – and, of course, the humans watching them.

UPDATE 2 — 10/16/2022: We took advantage of a break in the weather (we’ve been getting some rain) and removed shrub #2 and part of shrub #3 this morning. We don’t usually do chores on the Lord’s Day, but the whole operation took less than half an hour, so I guess we’re going to be OK with it.

UPDATE 3 — 10/17/2022: Damsel and I finished off the removal of the last Red Bird shrub today. The courtyard now has only the bottlebrush shrubs which are winter hearty in this climate. There was one last cluster of flowers still remaining on the last red bird.

So, with this last (clickable) image, we say good-bye until spring to these beautiful flowers.

2022 Cherry Red Cactus Flowers Now Opening

There are several pots in our courtyard containing Trichocereus Grandiflorus cactus (a.k.a. Cherry Red or Torch Cactus). We have been watching a few of the flower buds getting ready to open and today the first ones were out.

We acquired the “parent” cactus several years ago and at one point separated the “mother” from several “pups” which are now planted in their own pots in the courtyard. The image above is of a flower open on a “grandpup,” or a second-generation from the mother cactus who is still getting ready to open her flowers.

Click on the image to enlarge. In addition to the one above, there were two more open on a first generation pup in another pot.

Update: 06/27 open flower . . .

More Spring Cactus Flowers

I took the dogs out this morning for their usual trip to the road outside and noticed that a lot of our May flowers were open on the various cacti around the house. I went back out armed with my Canon Rebel EOS SL1 to try and record some of what I saw when I was out before. I captured the shots as seen in the (clickable) montage above.

The most prevalent flowering cactus is our fourteen foot Saguaro out front of the house. There are buds, open flowers and some transforming into cactus fruit on the tops of the arms of the big guy.

Damsel has some small barrel cacti on the courtyard, a Bishop’s Cap cactus in a pot and a Star Cactus (Astrophytum) in the ground outside of the courtyard gate. Both are relatives of one another and produce flowers not only in May, but other times of the year as well. Both had open flowers today.

Individual photos in the montage above are (click to see each):

We will be seeing more cactus flowers during the summer since there are tell-tale buds on several of them that promise the opening of new flowers soon. Also, be on the lookout for some flowers on other shrubs and trees around the property this summer.

First Cactus Flowers of Spring, 2022

Actually, not the first ones*, but this is the first to open on the native cacti around the yard. Damsel took this photo of one of two flowers that were open today on a hedgehog cactus in front of the house.

From Wikipedia

Echinocereus is a genus of ribbed, usually small to medium-sized, cylindrical cacti, comprising about 70 species native to the southern United States and Mexico in very sunny, rocky places. Usually the flowers are large and the fruit edible.

The name comes from the Ancient Greek echinos, meaning “hedgehog” and the Latin cereus meaning “candle”. They are sometimes known as hedgehog cacti, a term also used for the Pediocactus and Echinopsis.

The article at Wikipedia lists most of the species of hedgehog cacti, but we’re not sure of which one this cactus belongs to. Click on the image to enlarge.

*There are several store-bought cacti in planters around the courtyard and other places which have already produced tiny flowers in 2022.

Return of the Turkey Buzzards

buzzard.jpg

We know that spring is about to begin when we see cactus flower buds starting to form and the migrating Turkey Buzzards return from their winter repose down in Mexico.

Despite the cooler weather we’re currently experiencing due to a cold frontal passage, we see new cactus flower buds on our Beavertail and Hedgehog Cacti as well as seeing Turkey Buzzards soaring in the skies above. It should start warming up soon probably towards the middle (Beware the Ides) or the end of March. By June, we ought to be in our “dry heat” season during which the Buzzards remain and will so until after October when they again depart for Mexico’s warmer climate.

The photo above is an old one which I took in May of 2011, soon after we made the permanent move to Arizona. That was before we assimilated. Now, after nearly a dozen years, we can foretell seasonal changes via flora and fauna indicators. Click on the image to enlarge.