Lindley’s silver puffs

Lindley’s silver puffs have a lovely seed head.



They really are silvery.


Flat Stanley Meets Mustangs

Flat Stanley had heard that there are mustangs in the wild west.


He went for a ride in this 1966 Ford Mustang,


and in this brand new Mustang.

There are mustangs in Arizona.

Flat Stanley Visits Arizona

This week we have been showing Flat Stanley the state of Arizona.

Because Arizona has long been known for having the “Five C’s,” Flat Stanley wanted to find out what they are.



Checking out these cows standing in the shade of a mesquite tree, Flat Stanley  guessed rightly that one of the Five C’s is cattle.



Flat Stanley was surprised to find out that one of the Five C’s is copper, like the piece he is holding in his hand. Many people originally came to Arizona to work in the copper mines and there are still large mines here.



Flat Stanley discovered cotton grows well in Arizona’s hot climate. He’s standing in a wild cotton plant because the cultivated field cotton grows in the summer.



Flat Stanley wanted to climb an orange tree when he heard one of the Five C’s is citrus. Lemons, limes and grapefruit grow here, too.



What else is Arizona known for? Flat Stanley guessed cactus.

flat-stanley-saguaro-blogHe was almost right. Number 5 is Arizona’s sunny climate that allows cactus plants to grow so tall.

Next time you visit Arizona, be sure to look for the Five C’s:  cattle, copper, cotton, citrus and climate.


Duck Soup

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Arizona. It begged for a stop at the local park.


If you are interested in waterfowl, winter is a good time to visit a park here. The human-made lakes are a veritable duck soup.


Take the male ring-necked ducks, named for the hard-to-see cinnamon band at the base of the neck. They also have white markings on the bill.


These little guys were diving and swimming under the water more than the other kinds.


The light brown duck in the foreground with the green on its head is a male American wigeon.


There were a lot of colorful males. Here’s a male mallard. Can you see his curly feathers on top of his tail? Male mallards have those.


According to the Cornell Ornithology website, the curly-tail feathers mean this male is of mallard ancestry, even though his coloring is much different.


Ducks weren’t the only birds in the water. There were also American coots,


as well as some Canada geese.


Look closely at the bill (hopefully this will show on your screen if you click on the photograph to enlarge it). You can see the grooves called lamellae along the sides of the bill. The goose uses the lamellae like teeth, to cut the grass and leaves it eats.

It was fun to learn more about the birds. Thanks to our friends for making this a special day!

Sunshine brings out the… bunnies?

Our weather can be questionable at times, but this afternoon it was gorgeous. I went out to take a few photographs.


This golden-haired prickly pear cactus was back lit.


Look how the spines glow.

The species name for this small padded cactus is Opuntia microdasys. Can you guess the common name?


It’s bunny ears!

Sweet Potato Harvest

A friend of mine recently asked when she should harvest her sweet potatoes.  It might seem a simple matter in other climates with a distinct fall frost, but here in the Sonoran Desert the growing seasons are sometimes out of sync with the rest of the U.S. It isn’t always obvious when to plant or harvest a given plant.

Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are vines that produce large, edible tuberous roots.

I planted ours last spring after we had harvested the winter vegetables. I simply planted some sweet potatoes from the grocery store that had sprouted. Even commercially-grown sweet potatoes are started from sprouts rather than seeds.

A few of the leaves started to yellow over the last week, so we decided it was time to harvest.

Looking for leaves yellowing was a good clue because we had a number of good-sized sweet potatoes just in time for Thanksgiving.

Have you ever grown sweet potatoes? We also found out that wherever the main vines touched the soil, they rooted and produced a tuber. Sometimes after there were several in a string along a vine, the vine would go above ground for a few feet and then touch down a produce a few more tubers. The farther from the main plant, the smaller the tubers.

Very interesting plant!

Sun Rising and Setting

Photographs from a recent trip to western New York:

Sunrise over Seneca Lake.

Yes, that was how intense the color was, no digital enhancements needed.

On the last night we were treated to an absolutely amazing sunset. The beautiful pastels of the clouds made the water glow.

Now, did you notice anything?

You probably can’t tell, but these photographs were all taken from the same vantage point. They are all taken facing east.

I think this has to be unusual that you can enjoy both the sunrise and sunset from the same place, without even turning around.

Do you know of any other places where this is true?