International Nature Journaling Week 2023 ……… A Sensory Safari ….. Day 1: Color

June 1 – 7, 2023

It’s that time of year again …… International Nature Journaling Week (INJW), and I’m excited to be taking part in the fun. Beginning June 1st, a full week of nature-inspired workshops, interviews, prompts and other activities will be presented by an amazing line-up of nature journalers, artists and environmental educators from around the world. The host, founder and organizer of INJW, is nature journaler, teacher and environmental educator, Bethan Burton. This year the theme of INJW is a “Sensory Safari,” and Bethan, who also hosts her own podcast, Drawing with Nature, will take us through each day as we explore how nature engages at least seven of our senses: Color, Texture, Aroma, Song, Flavor, Movement, and Heart.

It’s not too late to get involved and there’s no cost for participants, so check it out! All workshops and resources, the schedule and links to videos are available at

Day 1: Color Across Continents

Imagine your world in black and white. Color brings life to our visual party and defines our sense of place. When I think about or see the colors of New Mexico …. the rusty reds and buff-colored rock and sand, the greens and blues of piñon pine and sagebrush, the lemon yellows and violet reds of spring wildflowers, all framed by vivid intensely blue skies ….. I know I’m home.
After Verena (a naturalist from Berlin) and Bethan (who is from Queensland, Australia) talked about the use and how-to’s of color in a nature journal, Bethan presented a mind-blowing workshop on color mixing, color theory, and the Magic of the Split Primary. Admittedly, I’ve been a hit-or-miss approach artist when it comes to color mixing; struggling to achieve a color match with my surroundings. But there was something in the way Bethan explained color theory and the use and mixing of warm rather than vivid primaries; and all at once I was mixing those elusive sage greens and brick reds! It was a real “duh” moment for me; color theory definitely is something worth understanding!

Below is the practice page I created during the workshop guided by both Bethan and Verena. For fun, they even encouraged us to make up names for our color mixes ….. names that conjure up an image of the color based on a familiar object, such as Rusty Bike, Brick, Cotton Candy, Moldy Cheese (you instantly know those colors, right?!).

Then we were invited to create a journal page with colors of home. I quickly swatched out colors I’ve seen all Spring. Then borrowed on some of my photos captured while traveling about central New Mexico, adding in a few wildflowers and one of the most decorated bird to visit our feeders. When I look at this page, the colors truly warm my heart. This for me is a bit of what nature journaling is all about. But just a bit. I know this week will go a long way to reveal more of the “bits” that have made nature journaling such an important part of my world!

Thanks for taking a look! I hope my pages spark in you a sense of curiosity and wonder, and that you would like to learn more. A good place to start is by visiting the INJW home page at


….. when out of the blue ….. Roadrunner!

May 29, 2023

Seems we’re now beyond the first exciting blush of Spring ….. the first new leaf, the first flower bud, the first darkling beetle; the first feather duster seed head of the Apache plume, the first hummingbird territorial battle, the first frantic squirrel noisily defending her nest.  

Having logged all the new flower species, insects, birds and mammals encountered on our favorite local trails, it’s now easy to daydream while hiking; easy to let your guard down and wonder about things like “where are all of the snakes hiding?” and “why haven’t we seen any roadrunners?”

It was while pondering these interesting questions along a stretch of trail bordered by oak scrub, that out of the blue, a short 10 feet in front of my next step, a roadrunner glided by and hop-jumped aboard a granite boulder! Shocked at how close and calm he was, I froze in place, not wishing to spook him.  Having such a magnificent bird so close is a rare (for me) and crazy cool encounter. After a moment of stillness and observation on both our parts, I dared to take a photo. That bird didn’t care one bit, and was so incredibly unconcerned about my presence that he began preening his feathers, ruffled and shook, and started scanning the landscape for lunch. 

Well, about a dozen or more photos later, it was time for me to resume my hike and catch up with Roy and Luna. I excitedly shared my encounter and photos with them (Luna wasn’t impressed) and wondered again, out loud, why we haven’t seen any rattlesnakes yet.  Surely that roadrunner was hungry. 

…… and then, out of the blue was the snake! About 5 minutes further along the trail was a 3 foot western diamondback rattler with 7 furiously rattling buttons on the tip of his tail! Luna jumped sky high, Roy came to a skidding stop, and I quickly (but oh so cautiously) approached to take photos! A very cranky snake he was too! 

It was a good day for a hike!

Chapter 230405: Flambé’s latest Misadventure ………………. April Full “Pink” Moon

April 5, 2023.  The April Full “Pink” Moon

“An egg is always an adventure; the next one may be different.” -Oscar Wilde

Well, that’s turned out to be the understatement of the month! Read Flambé’s full post to learn why her Misadventure resulted in a colorful twist!

Continue reading “Chapter 230405: Flambé’s latest Misadventure ………………. April Full “Pink” Moon”

March “Littles” ….. Looking for Spring Amidst March Madness

April 3, 2023

March came in like a passive lion, allowing a few signs of Spring to peek through. My collection of nature snippets and decorative trail rocks was going well, until ……. Before long we were once again shoveling drifts and piles of snow, dumped on New Mexico thanks to California’s 13 atmospheric rivers that flowed from coast to coast. This was looking like the winter that would never end.

It was truly and literally “March Madness” out there. So, in the spirit of the crazy seasonal weather, an emergency road trip became necessary to search for some “Littles” filler. And I knew the perfect route to take …..

The Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway winds around the Ortiz Mountains and Cerrillos Hills, while passing through the historic mining towns of Golden, Madrid (MAH-drid) and Cerrillos (sir-REE-yoose). Today, there’s minimal mining taking place in them there hills. Today it’s all about art, and there’s some really weird stuff on display out there.

From Golden to just north of Cerrillos, the hillsides are adorned with metal sculptures like a Trojan horse, three boned fish on sticks, a scuba diver fleeing a curious dolphin, two-story tall origami made of folded metal, butterflies as big as pterodactyls, a squadron of green parrots, and a fleet of racing bicycles. You have to look around every bend in the road ….. they’re all there, and more!

It was fun “collecting” these images for my March “Littles” collection, but I needed one more. We had heard the story of Ethyl the Whale somehow living out of water, somewhere in Santa Fe. Sounded like the perfect weird addition to that blank spot on my page.

And there she was! Around the back side of the Santa Fe Community College, in a large, flat field was Ethyl, the 82-foot long blue whale sculpted out of single use plastics. Ethyl is HUGE! She not only holds the Guinness Book of Records for the World’s largest recycled plastic sculpture, she also delivers an important message about the health of our oceans.

Well, there you have it; my eclectic assortment of “Littles” to remember this March of 2023. Let me know what you think! I’m already looking forward to true Spring in April. Wildflowers should be popping up everywhere and maybe a few more bugs will make an appearance for my April “Littles.”

Thanks again to “Made by Fay” for the “Littles” inspiration!

A Festive Anniversary Week in the Sonoran Desert. Part 7: Snowbirds

December 11-17, 2022

The much anticipated finale, Snowbirds, and wrap-up to a grand anniversary week celebration in and around Tucson, AZ, follows!

Despite an unexpected snow the evening of our arrival, we never seemed to slow down, taking in as many sights and good eats as humanly possible. …… Open the full post for a recap of our week, and a bit about some of the birds we found while traveling around.

Continue reading “A Festive Anniversary Week in the Sonoran Desert. Part 7: Snowbirds”

Chapter 230306: Flambé’s latest Misadventure ………………. March Full “Worm” Moon

March 6-7, 2023.  The March Full “Worm” Moon

As Spring blows in across the Northern Hemisphere, liquifying the last bits of ice and snow, rainbow-colored water droplets begin to penetrate thawing ground. If you have hearing like Kat, you’d be able to detect a distinctive “unzipping” noise made by thirsty compacted soil as its pores open wide to receive the welcome runoff. All this soil soaking and swelling creates an underground uproar; hundreds of thousands of micro- and macroscopic critters wake from their winter slumber to get on with their important job of soil building.

The saying, “as the worm turns,” now assumes the literal meaning. Earthworms and their kin play a crucial role in soil development as they “worm” their way around under the earth’s surface. 

Continue reading “Chapter 230306: Flambé’s latest Misadventure ………………. March Full “Worm” Moon”

Winter Birding on Sedillo Hill: January 2023

East Mountains, Tijeras, New Mexico elevation 7,300 ft

February 15, 2023

The design for today’s post was inspired by sketchbook artist Fay. I came across her blog (see link below) while searching for nature journalers who are active in creating art and who also share some unique approaches to page layout and composition.  “Littles” is the name Fay has given to one of her unique approaches.  This is where she lays out several pages full of empty boxes with the goal to fill up a box a day for an entire month.  Not only does this encourage a daily drawing and painting practice, but it’s her way of creating a record of what she’s observed for an entire month.  “Littles” reminds me of a hyper-compressed perpetual journal.

After seeing Fay’s blog post with all her miniature drawings and paintings, I knew this would be fun to try, and I had to learn more.  So we chatted and Fay encouraged me to give “Littles” a go.  And I did …… with a “little” twist!  I’ve been thinking of ways to keep a visual record of the birds visiting our feeders during the winter.  And I needed an approach with minimal fuss, without feeling each bird needed a detailed description. Ta da! 

So here’s my “Littles” page of the bird species that visit our feeders in January.  I kept my sketches to less than 5 minutes each; my watercolor pencil paintings took about 10 minutes each. My sketches were done using my own reference photos, and relied heavily on my many hours of observing these species’ poses and behaviors.

Let me know what you think! I just may create a “Littles” page for our February birds. Maybe by March, when all of our snow has melted, hints of new spring growth may appear in a few “Littles” boxes as well!

Oh and …… Follow Fay!  Her blog “Made By Fay” can be found at the link below.  If you enjoy my posts, I will guarantee you’ll love what Fay does.  She is an extraordinary visual storyteller, and enjoys drawing what she sees from her home state of Washington and on her travels about.

A Festive Anniversary Week in the Sonoran Desert. Part 5: Saguaro National Park – East, Rincon Mountains Unit; All saguaro, all the time!

(December 11-17, 2022)

December 14, 2022

We certainly enjoyed visiting Saguaro NP – East. Most of the Rincon Mountains Unit is wilderness and only accessible on foot; no dogs allowed.  But the cactus Forest Loop Drive was scenic, with views of the Rincon Mountains to the East, and saguaro everywhere!

Really couldn’t seem to get enough saguaro! The highlights of this day were finding another crested saguaro while hiking an area Luna could enjoy, standing next to some shoulder high fishhook barrel cactus, and enjoying the Phainopeplas with their shimmery black feathers.

If you’re up for more saguaro botany, read on.  This post will be dedicated to this largest of all North American cactus, Carnegiea gigantea. (Beware. This post is long, so settle in!)

Continue reading “A Festive Anniversary Week in the Sonoran Desert. Part 5: Saguaro National Park – East, Rincon Mountains Unit; All saguaro, all the time!”

Intermission: Townsend’s Solitaire Comes Calling

January 11, 2023

Who doesn’t love birds? Watching them, listening to them, photographing them, and in my case drawing them. And it’s especially exciting when a new visitor comes calling. When the bird is the first I’ve ever sighted, automatically becoming a new addition to my life list!

There I was, working away on one of my Sonoran Desert posts, when I glanced up from my sketchbook and noticed an unfamiliar bird standing tall under our big juniper tree. Not one of the hundreds of dark-eyed juncos that feast all winter below our feeders. Definitely larger than the comical juniper titmice and noisy mountain chickadees that pop in and out conducting their continual grab-a-seed-and-dash maneuvers. Hmmmmm ….. a bit larger than our resident canyon and spotted towhees, but slimmer than the Woodhouse’s scrub jay. An American robin? A western bluebird? Certainly similar, but not quite; certainly a member of the thrush family?

Turned out he was one of the thrush species …. not the robin or bluebird, but the beautifully sleek Townsend’s Solitaire. For a brief moment he seemed to be evaluating the quality of juniper berries lying beneath the tree. Not wanting to spook him, I watched in muted excitement, then dared to make a move for my camera. He stayed just long enough to bend over for a bird’s-eye look, promptly dismissing our berry crop, and off he flew. Somehow, while juggling my field guide, binoculars and camera, I managed to snap a photo to confirm my sighting with iNaturalist. Confirmed! How cool was that!

It was a great day!

I’ve watched every day since to see if this one or more Townsend’s Solitaires drop by. No luck yet, but now I know they’re around. Maybe I’ll catch them this Spring breeding, nesting, but more likely singing and calling from the treetops while defending their territory full of delicious juniper berries!

What’s nature displaying in your world right now?

A Festive Anniversary Week in the Sonoran Desert. Part 1: la Casita

December 11-17, 2022

Wow! 50! Can’t believe we’ve been together for so many years. Can’t believe it seems like yesterday. Countless adventures, miles, laughs, memories. How the good times fly! 50 years on December 12th, and I wasn’t about to let the winter doldrums keep us hunkered down at home. Surely a road trip was in store to properly round out our year of desert discoveries!  I booked us a week at a little one room home about 25 miles north of Tucson, AZ ….. in the land of the mighty saguaro cactus ….. where Roy and I, and of course Luna, could soak in some southwest winter sun and take our time exploring this new-to-us area of the Sonoran Desert. 

Come along with us for 7 days of discoveries in the Sonoran Desert!

Continue reading “A Festive Anniversary Week in the Sonoran Desert. Part 1: la Casita”