This past Wednesday, we had a cold front come through with high winds, rain and hail. I had a fake boulder in front of my house that wasn’t anchored down, and it blew half way down the street! The next day, I got some tent stakes and made sure that it was firmly anchored.
I hadn’t been down to the St George area to hike for several months, and because I knew that it would be cooler down there because of the cold front, that is where I went after the weather calmed down. Normally for this time of year, temps would be hitting the 100° mark already, but on Thursday, the highs would only be in the mid 60’s. Perfect!
My usual goal for a hike is to find out which wildflowers are blooming and to photograph them. The spring flowers here were long gone, and even the cactus had finished blooming for the season. I did encounter a shrub called the paper bag bush. I had never seen anything like this before! The flowers, which were mainly past bloom time, were purple and white.
The main attraction was the seed pods, which looked like tiny white and pale pink balloons. Very unusual.
There were some cute tiny flowers in clusters in one spot, and the sacred datura was in full bloom.
The highlight of my hike was an encounter with a desert tortoise. Wow! What a surprise. This is an endangered species, and there is a multi acre tortoise reserve near where I was hiking, but I never expected to actually see one out and about. The shell on this one was about 9 inches from front to back, which would make it approximately 16 years old. They can live to be from 50 to 80 years old. These tortoises make burrows in the sand, and they survive the summer’s heat by staying in their burrows during the day. This one was out at about 11 AM.
Because of my shamanic training, I know that a living thing that is unusual for me to encounter, or presents itself in an unusual way, is carrying a message. That is why it is important to pay attention to the natural world around us, as it is a reflection for our inner state and can bring guidance and information. In this case, the first thing that came to mind was “slow and steady wins the race.” Good advice for me, as I tend to be inpatient at times, and I like to go fast! When I got home, I consulted my Animal Speak book. The write up on tortoise also indicated the need to slow down, heighten my sensibilities, and let the natural flow of life direct me. Tortoise is also the symbol for Mother Earth, and the reminder that she provides everything that we need for our life here. It was just delightful to encounter this little being that had already lived to a good age in this harsh environment.
Before heading back north to Cedar City, I stopped in at the Red Hills Desert Garden. I had just found out about it from one of the people in my meditation group. The majority of the cactus had finished blooming, but there were plenty of other flowers in bloom in addition to a water feature that ran the length of the garden. The whole thing reminded me of a mini version of the Phoenix Botanical Garden. I took a lot of photos of the water feature, which looked like something Monet would love to paint. Enjoy.