Seeking an Oasis…

Oasis

Hi Friends!

These are such difficult times…

The past week has been filled with so much

sadness and worry,

no matter where in the world we live.

Sometimes it helps

just a little bit

to seek out an oasis…

⚛⚛⚛

We just returned from a wonderful visit with family in southwest Arizona.

Autumn in the desert is truly lovely!

Just a short walk from their suburban neighborhood

takes us into the beautiful, wild desert of the Tonto National Forest.

Tonto National Forest, with Four Peaks in the background

Tonto National Forest, with Four Peaks in the background

It is one of the most beautiful places I know.

The rugged mountains, prickly cacti, majestic Saguaros,

and dry, red earth seem timeless under the bright, blue desert sky.

The Sajuaro cactus is the state 'tree' of Arizona.

The Saguaro cactus is the state ‘tree’ of Arizona.

Yet hiking in the desert, with my ever-present large-brimmed hat, water bottle, strong sunscreen, and camera (of course!) often feels very harsh. Over the years, I have learned which cacti I shouldn’t touch, the safe way to pick up an interesting rock, and which desert animals are poisonous.  Yet, I always walk through the desert with great care, paying close attention to each step I take. (Oh, how I love the native desert plants, the tiny wildflowers, the birdsong, and the gentle breezes! However, the creatures of the desert ~ scorpions, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, javelinas, and vultures ~ have never been my ‘cup of tea.’)

When it’s my turn to choose our hiking destinations, I always seek out the oases in the desert.

Surprisingly, there are many

green, fertile spots where water can be found

in the Tonto National Forest!

⚛⚛⚛

It was so relaxing to spend the day

following the lower Salt River,

as it wound its way through the rough, desert terrain.

The area near the river felt like a calm, peaceful oasis!

LowerSaltRiver5

The lower Salt River winds its way through the Tonto National forest, in Arizona.

This riparian area, along the banks of the Salt River,

is so different from the harsh, dry desert that surrounds it.

This greenbelt of land is filled with trees and bushes that could never survive

in the dry, rugged conditions nearby.

LowerSaltRiverAZ

I always feel at ease hiking along the rocky banks of the Salt River.

It feels more familiar to a Midwestern girl!

Fish can be seen jumping and splashing in the slow moving water.

Reflections of green, deciduous trees catch my attention.

Water Birds

Water birds stand quietly on the riverbank before flying off to other nearby spots.

Squirrels frolic between the tree roots.

Hoof prints in the mud reveal places

where wild horses stop for fresh water.

LowerSaltRiver4

The lower Salt River is a natural boundary between the Tonto National Forest (foreground) and the Pima-Maricopa Indian Community on the other side of the river.

As we walked through this riparian zone,

we noticed that other people were also attracted to this oasis in the desert.

There were people tent camping under the trees,

fishing from the riverbank,

and kayaking along the meandering waterway.

Such a comfortable refuge, in the midst of the Sonoran desert!

LowerSaltRiver6

Tall reeds, growing along the riverbank, provide an important habitat for animals that can only survive in this riparian zone.

After several warm days,

we delighted in a lovely, cool, November day for our hike.

The temperature was only 60 degrees as we walked along the river.

Puffy clouds above us cast beautiful shadows on the mountains.

Welcome rains would fall over night.

(Rain is a real celebration in the Sonoran desert!)

A roadrunner walked along the road on its way to the area along the river

A Greater roadrunner walked along the road, then walked toward the riverbank.

We had a fascinating guest at our picnic lunch at Blue Point!

A Greater roadrunner strolled back and forth through the picnic area,

graciously stopping to pose for our camera.

Its beautiful tail feathers

sparkled in the noonday sun,

as it wandered about looking for its lunch.

(I was very happy to learn that it eats black widow spiders, tarantulas, scorpions, and rattlesnakes!) ☺

Although it can only fly a short distance,

the Greater roadrunner can run at speeds of 20 miles per hour.

This proud roadrunner seemed very content just posing for videos for other hikers!

 The lower Salt River flows south, with Red Mountain in the distance.

The lower Salt River flows south, with Red Mountain in the distance.

A healthy riparian zone, along the Salt River, benefits everyone. The bushes, grasses, and trees that thrive along the riverbank provide homes for a wide variety of wildlife, prevent soil erosion, and provide flood control by slowing down the water when the Salt River overflows its banks. The shoreline trees shade the water for fish, while the insects, leaves, and twigs that fall into the river become part of the aquatic food chain.

During our lifetime, much of the riparian greenbelt has seen a loss of vegetation from clearing farmland nearby, heavy livestock grazing, and the construction of dams that raise and lower the river levels. The trees that grow along the river can only survive the dry periods if their roots are always submerged in water.

As the population of Arizona continues to grow, the riparian ecosystem faces even more risks. There is such a fragile balance necessary between the growing demands for our natural resources and the health of this important ecosystem in the Sonoran desert.

We must take care to protect this wonderful oasis!

It is a vital, fertile spot of refuge

in harsh, difficult times.

⚛⚛⚛

It feels so good

to spend time in peaceful oases.

Whether in the Sonoran desert

or closer to home…

Treat yourself  to some quiet moments of peace.

Peaceful blessings!

♡ Dawn

                                                                 P.S.  What places feel like peaceful oases to you?

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23 thoughts on “Seeking an Oasis…

  1. An oasis indeed, and such pretty photographs of the river too. I quite envy you the reflection shots with all that calm water behaving perfectly to capture the echo of the land.
    I shall take up the cause of the vulture. I think they are majestic in the air, and do a very necessary job. Without them, the desert would be an unpleasant land to traverse. I longed to see them in the wild, but I did get to see several roadrunners when driving through Arizona. The large bird on the right of the pair of white and grey birds looks like one of our herons.
    This is a lovely start to my morning, for the wild weather outside is far from an oasis!
    ~~~Waving from Across the Big Water~~~Deb in Wales xoxo

  2. Dawn, I enjoyed your visit to Tonto National Forest! It’s nice to see a different perspective. Our trip through Tonto National Forest was from the seat of our rental car. The temperatures were in the upper 90’s to 100 degrees. I love the peaceful hike you enjoyed to the Salt River—-what a lovely oasis in the desert! Your photo of the roadrunner is GREAT! Very interesting facts about his diet! The Saguaro cactus are just amazing…I loved seeing the holes that house various birds.
    The desert is a great metaphor for our world issues. Thank you for sharing your beautiful hike! ♥

  3. Good morning, Deb! Thank you for taking a walk through this beautiful oasis with us this morning. There is so much to learn each time we hike in the desert! Being mindful helps me to observe and appreciate the small changes during each season. We are in the midst of our first snow today! So far, we have five inches covering the garden… with more to come! It looks so pretty! Waving back… and tossing a snowball for you! ♡

  4. Lovely, Dawn. I am reading this as the snow falls softly, determinedly here and I’m sure where you live. I can feel the warmth in your photos.
    One doesn’t often think of such rivers in the desert. How well nature works in its balancing act (not always so with we humans). These are such peaceful and spectacular views and your words speak loudly on the page/screen of your deep respect for nature.
    Our home is my oasis, but, I always find peace when walking in nature, though last week, at the hospital complex in your town, I took a walk. One can log in 2,000 steps and more quite quickly there. 🙂 At any rate, I saw the door to the interfaith chapel, and felt it calling me in. It was such a welcoming, calming oasis, though I hadn’t realized I needed it.

  5. Hi Brenda! So glad you could join us for our walk today. November is a very nice time to visit southern Arizona. Temperatures ranged from the mid 80s to the 60s, on the day we took this hike. It felt so refreshing to walk along the water on a pretty day! Is there a relaxing oasis that you love to visit? Sending snowy hugs from the Midwest! Have a good weekend! ♡

  6. Hi Judy! Walking along the ocean is the most amazing oasis of all! I have such sweet memories of walking along the ocean with my friends in New Hampshire. They had to teach me about the tides! Whenever I am near an ocean, I feel so peaceful. It must be wonderful to visit the ocean during the winter, too! My garden is covered with a thick blanket of snow this morning. The first snow is always my favorite one! Thanks for visiting today, Judy! ♡

  7. Good morning, Martha Ellen! I’m so happy that you recently visited the Tonto National Forest, too! It’s such an interesting place to explore. The scenery and plants change every few miles as the elevation rises ~ one moment the Saguaros are plentiful and a few moments later there are none to be seen. At Four Peaks, they sometimes have snow on the mountain tops! Can you believe that this is the fifth largest national forest in America? I’m looking forward to hearing more about your desert days. You visited so many of our favorite places! Thank you so much for hiking with us today! Sending snowy hugs from the Midwest today! ♡

  8. Hi, Jodi! Thanks so much for walking through this beautiful oasis with us! I think you (and your camera!) would enjoy it, too. Early Spring and Autumn are my favorite times to visit the desert. Sending snowy hugs today! We are in the midst of our first snow ~ five inches so far and several more to come! So pretty! ♡

  9. Good morning, Penny! Walking along the Salt River always feels so peaceful to me. The river is constantly changing. When dams further north are opened during the dry,summer months the Salt River swells to amazing proportions. It is so valuable for irrigation throughout the Phoenix area. All summer, people flock to the river for tubing adventures! But in the fall, parts of the river are just a trickle and we can walk out onto the river rocks to explore. I have always loved walking near water for peace and relaxation. In the desert, I am always on the lookout for small oases of water! I have another amazing desert oasis to share very soon! It’s my favorite one of all!

    Home Sweet Home is the perfect oasis, Penny! The past week, I found peace while walking in nature whenever the sun was out. (It even felt calming to take a walk with my lawnmower last weekend!) I walked in the park and lingered in the conservatory for a while during the week. It calmed my soul, bringing respite from the news of the world. I also enjoy the hiking trail around the hospital. There are enough little hills to keep it interesting, and the plantings are lovely. So glad that you followed your heart inside, Penny. The pretty, little chapel is an oasis of peace.

    Overnight, winter has transformed our gardens with a thick, heavy blanket of white. The places we walk will look so different now. I love the softly falling snow ~ especially the first snow of the season. It’s a big one this time! I’ve already used the words ‘Winter Wonderland’… twice. 🙂 Hope you can enjoy this snowy weekend at home (such a cozy oasis), with a cup of tea and your favorite book! Snowy hugs, dear Penny! ♡

  10. What a lovely spot you found there. My brother and sister in law live in Anthem. We’ve had a chance to visit them once since they moved there in 2008. Looks like you went at a nice time of year.

  11. Hi Marcia! It’s a fun place to visit! We love to go in the Spring and Fall when the weather is still warm, but not too hot. It was fun to have a cloudy, rainy day this time! It makes everyone so happy when they see rain clouds over the desert! Hope you will have a chance to visit the desert again. I love learning the names of the flowers, trees, and cacti in my parents’ neighborhood.

    Winter has suddenly arrived in the Midwest! Our garden is covered with over five inches of heavy, wet snow. Big snowflakes will continue all day. So, our first snow this season is a big one! It’s fun to look out the window, with a cup of tea and a good book! Thanks for stopping to visit today, Marcia! Sending snowy hugs! ♡

  12. Thank you, Jayne! It’s especially pretty during the spring and fall. I love learning about all of the desert plants! It would be a nice drive from New Mexico to Arizona. Enjoy the warm Savannah sunshine, Jayne! It’s snowing heavily in the Midwest today. The garden is buried under about seven inches of heavy, wet snow. It’s time to bundle up and start shoveling and snowblowing. The first snowfall of the season is always my favorite! Thanks for stopping to visit today! ♡

  13. Welcome, Sue! Thanks for your sweet words. Hiking along the Salt River always makes me feel so peaceful. It was fun to hear all of the birdsong as we walked along. The Roadrunner was such an unexpected treat ~ a perfect picnic companion! So glad that you stopped to visit today, Sue! ♡

  14. I am sure I would. Wow five inches of snow! How fun! Nothing here yet. Still in the 50s and sunny here – so unusual. Hugs back!

  15. Dawn,
    I feel like I’ve visited an oasis that has calmed me! Such beautiful photography. Nature always allows me to recharge my batteries.
    Thank you for sharing.
    xo,
    Karen

  16. Oh, thank you, Karen! Walking in nature is so calming. It lifts my spirits and lightens my heart! Winter has arrived in the Midwest this weekend. My garden is covered with seven inches of heavy, wet snow today! Being out in the snow this afternoon felt calming, as well. Sending sparkling snowflakes… just for you! ♡

  17. We enjoyed your beautiful pictures and commentary. How great that a Roadrunner made
    an appearance in your peaceful venture into our beautiful desert.
    D&J

  18. Hi Mom and Dad! After all these years, we finally met a Roadrunner up close! It strolled around us the entire time we ate our picnic lunch at Blue Point. It was such a nice, cool day for hiking in the desert. We were able to visit all of our favorite places, and discover a few more! Heartfelt thanks for teaching us all about the desert each time we visit. Thank you for surprising me with a note today! 🙂 Much love and big hugs! ♡

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