When we drove to Tucson for the world premiere of the opera Riders of the Purple Sage, I was on the lookout for things to photograph that might complement the story, since I knew I wouldn’t be able to take photos of the actual performance. We stopped on the way to take some photos of desert landscapes and considered pulling over when we saw a few wandering cows.
Our first stop in Tucson proper was Mercado San Augustin for lunch at our new favorite, Seis Kitchen.
Phillip pointed out purple blooms in the planters outside, “I think this might actually be sage.”
A text to my Master Gardener Uncle confirmed it: Salvia clevlandii, chaparral sage.
We saw this fabulous weather-beaten tree at Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area in Nevada.
I changed my Twitter cover image to this when the yellow brittlebush flowers I had previously chosen seemed too sunny. It looked wild and windswept, and it somehow fit my mood better.
Another day, I didn’t start out thinking about the tree. I was thinking about how I tend to feel my life needs to conform to a certain pattern, like I’m not valid if I’m not checking off a set of boxes, when – in reality – we are all writing our own stories as we go.
Life is not lined up and orderly. It is organic, unpredictable, wild.
The thoughts found their way into a short poem, and one of the images in my mind as I wrote it was that tree in Nevada.
Not a fence post
but a tree,
rough and irregular,
both warped by
the elements and
strengthened by them.
Each meandering ring,
The U.S. National Christmas Tree in Washington D.C. isn’t seasonal. The decorations are. But the tree itself is a living thing, planted in the President’s Park, permanent enough to be a dot on National Mall maps.
It’s located in the middle of the Ellipse (a big lawn south of the White House), surrounded by the “Pathway of Peace.” During the holiday season, it’s lit up like….well, you know…with model trains and miniature buildings at its base and 57 smaller trees decorated for each U.S. state and territory (plus the District of Columbia) with handmade ornaments from schoolchildren and artists.
– Visiting The National Christmas Tree –
- The National Christmas Tree lights are on nightly from approximately 4:30-10pm during the month of December.
- The Pathway of Peace is open 10am-10pm.
- 30-minute music and dance performances take place on a nearby stage for 2 weeks in December.
- It’s free to see the tree and watch performances.
- There’s an annual lighting ceremony and concert. Watch the 2015 lighting online. (The 2016 ceremony will be televised later this week.)
- The National Tree has a Twitter account. It loves Christmas, music, and, apparently, Gilmore Girls.
- Transit: The closest stops are the same ones you’d use for the White House – either Federal Triangle (blue, orange, and silver lines) or Metro Center (red, blue, orange, and silver lines).
- Parking: There’s a parking garage at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Rates vary but plan for about $10/hour weekdays, $15 for weekday evenings or all day on weekends and holidays. Access via 13½ Street (off Pennsylvania Avenue) or 14th Street. Open to the public but visitors and vehicles are screened upon entry.
- Street parking is limited.
- We ended up walking from our hotel.
The multi-colored lights shining on the cactus outside the Phoenix Art Museum caught my eye.
Before posting the photo, I messed around with the saturation until the cactus started to look like a 2-dimensional tangle of colors. Maybe it was the colorful paintings we had just seen, but it somehow felt like the way it was supposed to be.
Since we knew there’d be way more to see at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens than we’d have time to explore while we were in the Pasadena area, we skipped the desert and cactus gardens (they’re supposed to be very good – we just have lots of desert gardens here in Arizona) and headed straight for something different: the jungle garden.
I really being enveloped in lush the rainforest-like landscape.
Thick trees were like an entire ecosystem of their own with vines climbing their trunks and air plants nestled in their branches.
We spotted ferns and flowers and plants with leaves the size of umbrellas.
My favorite spot was right next to the waterfall.
We received complimentary press passes to Huntington Library via Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau.