April Full Moon, Prescott, Arizona

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The calendar shows tomorrow as being the Full Moon, which is deceiving from a practical standpoint. Because the moon becomes 100 % full (100 percent illuminated) just after midnight tonight. Which has it just into the wee minutes of tomorrow as far as the calendar date is concerned.

But tonight is effectively the night of the Full Moon. Here is how it looked as it rose over the Bradshaw Mountains on the southeast edge of Prescott at dusk this evening.

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April Morning, Granite Lake

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The snow storm had passed, the morning dawning clear and calm. I drove up to Granite Lake on the Prescott National Forest just west of town to check out the morning light.

It was perfect. Bright, clear, the deciduous trees (willows and cottonwoods) in the riparian zone along the edge of the lake leafing out. Almost nobody around. The reflection of Granite Mountain slowly undulated on the water’s surface, mesmerizing me.

Photo Location: Granite Basin Lake, Granite Basin Recreation Area, Prescott National Forest, Prescott, Yavapai County, Central Arizona Highlands.

Photo © Stephen J. Krieg | http://www.NaturalMoment.com

Signs Of Spring: Manzanita Blooming

It’s been a mild winter here in mile-high Central Arizona. The earlybird trees are breaking bud even earlier than usual: the elms, willows, cottonwoods. Also the flowering crabapple trees in town and around the mall.

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Things are stirring in the forests, too. I have been enjoying the blooms of the small but attractive flowers of the Manzanita shrubs in the hills just outside Prescott.

Manzanita is a tough dry-site shrub that around here occurs frequently in the lower Ponderosa pine forests. Its leathery, dark green leaves are evergreen, persisting year round. Its reddish stems and branches are smooth and twisty and tough. It’s a tough plant, even though it has no thorns. Great wildlife cover.

Manzanita blossoms are pink, sometimes white, being set off nicely by the dark green of their own foliage. They hang attractively in clusters.

Photo location: Highlands Center for Natural History, Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona. The Highlands Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ecological education in Yavapai County. Visit their website at www.highlandscenter.org.

Shine On, From The Mountains

Arizona mountain sunrise, Yavapai County

And so the perfect month — October — comes to a close. On the calendar, anyway. It’s merely a mark in time. Meanwhile, we live day to day, savoring the glory of life.

Which is why I drove out of town this morning to once again search for photos that might express my joy and wonder at living here in the high, wide open spaces of Yavapai County in the Central Arizona Highlands.

This photo represents a sliver of what I found.

Photo location: Lonesome Valley, north of Prescott, Arizona.

Goodbye, October

Lonesome Valley sunrise colors, Arizona

October 30, only one day left in the month after this. In the perfect month. But the perfect month has almost run out of time.

A cold front had come through, with some clouds to possibly make sunrise colors. I launched myself out at dawn, wanting to roam a bit into the heart of Lonesome Valley.

In the beautiful high country and wide open spaces of the Central Arizona Highlands you can’t lose be being out in nature. Just go out, soak in the view, the fresh air, the friendly waves of people driving the other way on the country roads.

Anyway, I chose to drive east from Chino Valley on Perkinsville Road, because the views are wide open right away. High country grasslands, ranches, a chance to see one of the antelope herds, too.

The clouds above the Lonesome Valley Buttes lit up with the reds of the yet-unseen sun. Land shapes, sky shapes, color. The freezing dawn was warming up with sunrise, and the sun would soon warm the landscape with golden sunlight, too.

Goodbye, October. You’re the perfect month to me. The good news is that the second best month follows. November, when I get to savor the remnants lingering from your glowing light of autumn leaves.

Photo location: Lonesome Valley, Yavapai County, Arizona.

And The Rain Came Down

Arizona monsoon thunderstorm and rainbowAt least it came down in one very localized area, as seen in this photo. So typical of Arizona’s “monsoon” summer thunderstorms. You’re either in one, or not. No in between.

I wasn’t in this one, which afforded me a view of it to the east, as sunset time approached. With a rainbow, no less, courtesy of the low angle of the sun through the rain curtain.

Evening sunlight and shadow splashed across the grasslands of the Central Arizona Highlands between Prescott and Chino Valley. Blue sky and more white and blue clouds in the far distance.

Life at the speed of the moment.

Last Sunset Of July, Wide View

Arizona Sunset

The wide view of yesterday’s sunset photo, shifting one’s attention from the blazing yellows and oranges just above the sun outward to the pinks and purples of the upper clouds, and the blue sky canvas.

Photo location: Chino Valley, north of Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona.

Bring on the Monsoon

Monsoon Clouds, evening, Chino Valley, Arizona

Finally. After another dry, windy spring and early summer, the weather pattern has shifted to bring ocean moisture up from Mexico. The moisture gets turned into clouds by the hot, sunny Arizona sun. Big clouds: cumulus and thunderheads. Thunder, lightning, and rain happens. In places. Or not, depending on where you are at the moment.

It’s the Southwest’s summertime monsoon season. It brings much-cherished rain to the dry country, to the mountains, grasslands, and deserts of this region.

It also paints Arizona’s trademark blue skies with clouds of all shapes and shades. Especially in the evening, during the golden hour around sunset.

Bring on the monsoon, bring on the clouds.

Photo Location: Chino Valley, north of Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona.