I was so lucky to visit Zion National Park over Thanksgiving weekend, and what a truly spectacular part of the world. There are so many white tailed deer everywhere you turn which was a delight to anyone with a camera. This was my first time seeing a deer with antlers, which of course signifies that this deer is a male. It was quite a delight to see males of various ages with juveniles having small protruding antlers of only a few inches long, to older males with antlers that are very large and elaborately branching. Interesting side fact is that male Chinese water deer do not have antlers, they have tusks and look incredibly strange. So anyway, I took the above photo of a very proud and glorious stag. What makes me laugh about this photo is the male deer hiding in the background, which actually looks more like a dog wearing antlers (with his puffy white cheeks and upwards pointed ears). What a cutie pie!
So this past weekend I woke up and realized I had completely missed Autumn. I remember at the start of Autumn (when the weather was still warm) I had this fun idea that I wanted to hire bicycles and ride from Manhattan to Randall’s Island (not that far away from where I live) and have a wonderful picnic on the water under the sun. Randall’s Island is a beautiful little area covered with green grass and flower gardens along the water. Mind you I don’t actually enjoy riding a bike, and absolutely hate doing it on Manhattan streets when taxi drivers are actively trying to kill you, but I thought the picnic worth the ride. So this weekend I decided that my husband and I absolutely must do this before the weather got any colder (8 degrees Celsius, 46 degrees Fahrenheit is by no means warm!). So we hired bikes and rode one block to the bike lane on First Avenue which to my dismay was closed for construction. We rode two more blocks to Riverside Park which has a paved bike path….also closed for construction (typical Manhattan). Even having only rode three blocks my ungloved hands were already frozen and I was in no mood for a picnic, especially not on a cold and unwelcoming island where the trees have been stripped of their leaves, leaving an expanse of colorless concrete (wow, it’s incredible how weather can change your mood so quickly!). So we walked the bikes back to the store, sheepishly returning them after only 15 minutes, and went back to our warm home and I sat down and painted Autumn instead.
This post today is not so much a flower but a really interesting shrub I saw while recently hiking in Sedona, Arizona. A shrub commonly named pointleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens), manzanita meaning “little apple” in Spanish. These plants make berries (that look like little apples, hence the name) which are a food source for various wildlife in this dry and harsh environment, and are also harvested to make jam in some parts of Mexico. They have gorgeously twisted, blood-red bark and branches ending in small green leaves. Even more fascinating is that many of them are a tortuous combination of dead (grey) and live (red) parts which look as though blood is streaming down the side of the plant. It is also fitting that an area famous for its red rocks has its very own red shrubs too. Happy weekend everyone!