Another Year of Life

One of the best things I love about life is learning. I embody the definition of a life long learner. Please revisit some of my past posts if you don’t know what I mean.

Today is my 58th birthday. My husband and I are on vacation in the Great American Southwest. We decided last April to book a vacation touring some of our National Parks. We are on leg 4 in Sedona, Arizona. The first leg was a travel day – from Wisconsin to Utah. This day was long – over 12 hours of travel – longer than it would take to get to Hawaii. We flew from Wisconsin to Minnesota to Denver and then drove six hours to Utah.

We spent two days in Moab Utah visiting Arches National Park. Then, we spent two days in Grand Canyon National Park. We have been in Sedona for two days and tomorrow we move on to Tucson. I’ve always dreamed of going to the desert.

In sixth grade, I did a science fair project on cactus. Plants have always been a passion of mine. Anyone who knows me well, knows of my love of and growing knowledge about plants! Particularly, I love plants that have adapted to their environment. Desert. Riparian. Rainforest. Prairie. You name it. I love plants.

One of the highlights of this trip is that I get to put knowledge I have about plants to use and learn new things about other plants and ecosystems. As an environmental educator, it is imperative that I keep learning so I can share what I know. As a person, I keep learning to stay happy.

This morning, on the morning of my 58th year, we hiked a trail I picked out of nowhere on the alltrails app. I looked for an easy trail that was not heavily trafficked. What a great and lucky decision we made to go to Fay Canyon Trail this morning!

Although I’ve never been in this part of our country outside of an airport, I was able to identify with confidence plants along the trail. I saw lupine, columbine, yucca, agave, asters, prickly pear and fern.

Yes, that is a weird combination of plants. We noted oaks and Pinion pines. There was a lot I saw that I knew. But, there was more I did not know. We noted a very unusual tree along our hiking path. It had a bark we had never seen before and a scale, like a cedar, instead of a needle or leaf. We did not know this tree!

Alligator Juniper. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021

After scrambling up a red, rocky landscape, making a brave attempt to give myself a beautiful vista, we ran into a gentleman who knew what tree we kept seeing along our hiking path. It was an alligator juniper! If you could see the bark of this tree, you would realize how it came to be named. We also discussed micro-climates and the temperature variations that allowed this tree to live at this altitude (not usual).

Life is precious. I feel that more this year more than I have ever before as I’ve watched my mom decline and my dad worry about their future. I know, for myself, that to keep learning is to keep living. And, so, I will carry on living and learning as long as I can.

7 thoughts

  1. Happy Birthday! You are so blessed to have your health and to be able to take this amazing trip. I’m a little envious. Thanks for sharing your learning and your photos. Keep on!

    Liked by 1 person

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