Friday, May 7, 2010

up close and personal

I started to pull into my driveway about an hour ago but stopped when I saw this handsome fellow stretched across it (I figure he's about 4 feet long).  After ascertaining that he's not a rattler, I ran in the house to get the camera and the snake obliging waited and posed for several shots.  I'll wait till he moves to put the car in the garage - I'd have felt terrible if I'd run over him.
I still didn't get all of him in one picture - missed the tip of his tail.  Just checked the driveway - he's moved on.
      After several days in the 90s, we must admit spring's coming to an end (and to think we were in snow 8 days ago in Prescott!)  The cactus flowers are splendid.  Here's a blossom on a Santa Rita prickly pear in the front yard.  The cactus pads themselves are distinctly lavender, though with the shadows that doesn't show up too well in the photo.  This plant was struggling to survive in a corner by the back fence when we bought the house; in the ten years since we relocated it, it has really thrived.
So many of the desert flowers are yellow that it's nice to find some variety.  These Mexican primroses are the palest pink (the little lavender tufts belong to verbena, which can be invasive so that some people think of it as a weed, but I like its plucky opportunism).  The rocks are part of a low retaining wall Joe built to keep the sloping back yard somewhat contained and off the patio.

The hummingbirds love these sage plants; there are several on the back slope.  This is the biggest and was here when we moved in.  We can watch the hummingbirds at it from the table - a nice way to start the day.

     Now that the semester's over there will be more time for gardening and just enjoying being outdoors (espeially in the morning while it's relatively cool), reading, sketching, daydreaming.  I did spend a while doing that the other day, relaxing, sketching, and definitely daydreaming!

These rose-scented geraniums live in a pot just outside the back door, on a stand just above waist-height, so it's easy to run your fingers over them to release their fragrance.  I've read that if you put a few leaves in a jar of sugar, within a few days you'll have rose-scented sugar.  Sounds lovely so long as it's not too strong.  I'd always wondered about rose-flavored foods and have recently tried a couple that I didn't like much because the flavor was too intense, like when people wear too much or too heavy a rose perfume (though just enough is delightful).  I do like rosehips, though, rosehip tea, rosehip jelly, but those are from the fruits, not the flower petals.

And this quick watercolor pencil sketch is of the white petunias I recently planted around some taller plants in half wine barrels, a sort of living mulch that also adds color.  I did that last year too, and so although this year I only bought white petunias, I also have a healthy crop of lavender and purple ones that reseeded themselves.  That's always a welcome surprise!

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