October 16, 2017

The new Blacktail Hill

Mornings are getting cooler, too cool for some to go on an early bike ride so we opted for our usual winter exercise routine of hiking around Blacktail. This is part of the foothills of the Dragoon Mountains that had forest fires in early June. From our house we look out on Blacktail and were relieved that, at least from a distance, life reappeared soon after the fire.

It was a somewhat sad hike as a lot of the juniper trees had burned and stuck out in the landscape, but I would have been more devastated had the cause of the fire been man made, rather than lightening strikes. Some of our trails were still visible but the largest change was in the washes.

In July we got good rains, enough water to fill our pond, and a lot of that water had come off the mountain. Where we normally crossed a dry creek 2 feet deep there now was a chasm 6 feet deep and half again as wide as before. It made the landscape hardly recognizable.

We usually have a short break at what I call Happy Valley, right under a large, old, ocotillo for whose survival I had feared but it still stood in all its glory. The view into Happy Valley was not so happy, but Mom will restore it. Signs of new life are everywhere.

October 1, 2017

After the fire

Where did Summer go? October today! I took Emma for a walk out back this morning and saw that thanks to a good monsoon, life is returning after our forest fire in June.

The rain came all at once it seems and there was so much that cattle ponds overflowed and the Forest road washed out. The plants loved it. Immediately the grass greened up, though it has since turned blond again now it is Fall. There was little to no rain in September.

Thankfully there were not many large trees that could sustain the fire although there is some evidence that the area burned.

Now it is Fall, we could do with a bit more rain. Please.

Learning Spanish

After getting lost in Costa Rica last year and not speaking any Spanish, I was bound and determined that would not happen again. Besides, I had wanted to learn Spanish as it is a beautiful language and we are but 60 miles from the Mexican border (not that that means there are people I can practice my Spanish with).

I did a bit of research after our vacation and decided on the Fluenz program. I loved it from the start as it immediately dealt with live situations: what to say in a restaurant, how to get around. I worked diligently for about a year, spending a couple of hours a day doing the lessons and the practises. I was encouraged by the fact that soon I was able to distinguish verbs from nouns in the Costa Rica paper (one of my initial goals).

Then, Fluenz decided to offer an immersion program in September in Antigua, Guatemala and I jumped at the chance. I would be able to practice speaking and get one on one instruction on those things I needed to improve on (verbs among others). I was pumped. I left for Antigua deciding my comfort zone would be awaiting my return.

View from the hotel roof terrace where breakfast was served daily.
It was a great experience: 5 hours of personal instruction, a great hotel with wonderful staff and delicious food, meeting a dozen other, younger, people from all walks of life, some of whom taught in prestigious institutions, and the founding Fluenz team.

My classroom.
My head awash in Spanish I had to think harder than I had in years and it felt wonderful to be challenged by people who nonetheless were patient. Other activities had also been planned: yoga sessions, massage, Antigua walking tour, talk by a Guatemalan UN Ambassador. A long week, with not enough sleep thanks to a head that would not turn off, but so very much worth it. And, my comfort zone had been waiting for me. The quiet life has returned.