Light. Water. Time.Buster wants to see what we have to show for ours.Persimmons. Tricky to photograph, since these sway in the breeze. Harder to harvest because raccoons sneak in during the night and swipe the ripe ones.Asian pears. Not quite ripe yet–the birds will tell us when they’re ready.One of the bees, in our cilantro.An onion, climbing out the garden ahead of schedule.Thai basil.Yellow zucchini, with flowers.Carrot, ready to flower.Eggplant flower.Pink Lady apples. Watched carefully by the birds, who will peck a hole to tell us how tasty they are. (Gee, thanks.)Another onion, striving to escape. (What is it about these onions?)Amaranth. Out standing in the crowd.Chestnuts.Beans. A very small cornfield. So far, this crop has come farther than last year’s which was blown over in a windstorm. If we’re lucky, we’ll get tasty popcorn.Future Roma tomatoes.Part of the day’s harvest: over 10 pounds of carrots and as many pounds of cabbage. We had already brought up 30 pounds of nectarines.
“They live lives of quiet desperation.” (Not really, but when the going gets rough the bees turn to fruit for nectar.)It can’t be all bad, since this bee was very docile as I photographed it.Aphids, unfortunately, make themselves at home. We rescued several red cabbages from further damage.The cilantro had matured into coriander, but the bees did not mind the change. Next to our garden bees, this forest beetle looks almost armored.The fennel, neglected since we had gone out of town, did not miss us. Neither did the bees.This bee did not welcome my interruption.Even the corn tassels are worth investigating.
Buster decided to sit this one out. He’s 13, and we weren’t sure he wanted to go digging around in a cave.Doesn’t look like much from here, but come closer …It goes almost straight down, into the cave.A few intrepid pups (and their companion) hiked the cave. Note the booties, which protect their paws from sharp rocks.A view down the cave. We knew to bring extra layers, since it can be cold here (32-40 degrees F). In July, isn’t that the point of this hike?Lava cave floor. My husband Bryon helped me over the rough spots. In spite of my excellent trail shoes I twisted my ankle a few times. (Luckily nothing serious.)At the split. “Stay to the right,” we were told. “It’ll be easier.”“Easier” is relative. Alex is 6’3″. (Even I had to crab-walk this.)A view of the ceiling.A second view of the ceiling. The cave changes to reflect humidity and other ambient conditions.A Rorschach test. (Not really–a view of the walls.)The sign says, “DUCK”. In case you needed the reminder.Grafitti at the turnaround point of the hike. This is supposed to be the warmest point of the hike. I couldn’t tell, since I had already taken off and tied my sweat jacket around my waist.I wasn’t sure about the significance of the boat, either.Mold growing from litter left by prior hikers.
Although Buster was probably sore from the previous day’s hike, he needed no coaxing to join us for our next outing.The trail is also known as the Lamar Haines Loop, named after a local leader in the conservation movement.Mushrooms make themselves at home here. I don’t know whether or not these are poisonous.Ferns and aspens along the way. Remains of an old cabin.Spring house near the old cabin.Note the petroglyphs on the top of the wall where the stones meet overhead.Buster, ready to go.Tree bark.One of the locals.Vintage graffiti.
The Yarnell Hill Fire burned throughout the week, and flags remained at half-staff throughout Arizona. As we hiked through Lockett Meadow, it was not hard to think about the sense of loss that will remain after the press attention subsides.The Schultz Fire, Arizona’s largest wildfire in 2010, burned over 15,000 acres. The eastern slopes of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff still show fire damage.Sunset Crater is in the distance. Monsoon clouds overhead, but not enough rain here.The trees are still fragile. The aspen grove of the Inner Basin had been spared because the firefighters worked so hard to save it.
These neighbors are easily overlooked; they are ubiquitous whether or not we want them to be. They enjoy the fruits of others’ labors as happily as they dine on yesterday’s garbage. Our bees have finer palates, dining on rosemary and basil, and drinking the nectar of our fruit trees.Some visitors are more welcome than others.It’s true: our neighbors are not always welcome. Plants are nonverbal and therefore cannot come to the defense of those who help pollinate them. If you love honey (or know somebody who does), you understand why this matters.Not all insects are blessed with such tasty P.R.Even in the wilderness looks aren’t everything. The bees who live near us help with everything from (broccoli) soup to nuts.