Oujournalist’s Blog

The blog of a freelancing journalist in Arizona

North Market shares history, fun March 23, 2017

Filed under: businesss,green,Ohio history,travel — Candace Hughes @ 4:17 pm

Martha Brian, journalism professor and former Columbus Monthly staffer, introduced me to the North Market close to downtown Columbus, Ohio. Before the North Short changes, it was a dicey area to enter, but had fresh food that was hard to find in the campus area just to the south. It did require a bus ticket or a car to get there, but offered a whole chicken my husband and I could make last for a week.

I return now several times yearly while visiting my parents in nearby Delaware, and find the same fresh whole chickens available, along with a variety of produce, flowers and meals.

The market may be expanded and remodeled soon, so now is the time to venture in, take a notebook or laptop, and spend an afternoon with coffee, tea, dessert, fresh pastries or bread, or a meal before carting home groceries.

My professor did a profile for Columbus Monthly magazine when the market was in danger of destruction, but the city of Columbus eventually purchased the historic property and now it draws convention goers, the lunchtime crowd, and people from all over the city.



I am a daffodil still sleeping inside a bulb but getting ready to sprout. February 14, 2017

Filed under: green — Candace Hughes @ 11:21 pm

I know I will like it when other daffodils bloom near me and we exchange pollen. I will feel the whoosh of butterfly wings and listen to the songs of birds. I rejoice in my sturdy, green stem and strong leaves. They support me with sustenance such as water and nutrients. I unfold from a tight bud with each day showing more fringed, yellow petals until the pistel and stamen are finally exposed. I love my brilliant color.

I see all this from the dark place inside the bulb where I am awaiting just the right signal. I know Mother Nature has a Plan for me and I will follow it. I anticipate only good things. Perhaps someone will pick me and I will grace a table or desk and give inspiration. I also know it is OK to just be and God’s Plan will unfold as I allow Grace to surround me. The bulb holds much food for me and it knows the correct time to start growing as a plant above the earth. It’s fun to know that all I need will be provided. I am Loved!


The Hidden Life of Trees January 19, 2017

Filed under: Books,green — Candace Hughes @ 7:01 pm

The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they Communicate — Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben with a foreword by Tim Flannery. Available as an audio book in 2016 and through Greystone Books $24.95 250 pages plus notes. Published 2015. English translation from German by Jane Billinghurst with black and white illustrations.

For more than 14 years we have been living on 1 1/4 acres outside of Phoenix where we have as many as 30 night-blooming cereus cactus. We have often wondered why as many as 20 bloom on one evening and plants in neighboring yards also choose to open their flowers on that one night.
Biologists at Tohono Chul Park in Tucson, about 90 miles from our house, say they don’t know why, but speculate the plants send a signal to each other. On one hot night each summer, often around solstice, plants that look like dead sticks offer large white blooms. Bats visit to pollinate and bees visit in the early morning hours until the blossoms fall limply in the hot sun. Other blooms may occur in the next few nights, some the same night as the in the Tucson garden.
As I read The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate, I see that author Peter Wohlleben has been gathering evidence — it’s not just a theory — that plants do “talk to each other,” assist struggling trees and even provide sustenance.
“Because a tree can be only as strong as the forest that surrounds it,” German forester Wohlleben asserts that as trees grow together, they divide nutrients and water so each can grow to be the best possible living thing. This type of natural cooperation is destroyed when managers remove trees to take out “competition,” because as they look for help, they find only stumps. “This “Social Security,” he found through his own forms of assistance which he has ended.
While some of the author’s work is about European trees, his beliefs can be translated to other climes. The drought in the the Western United States and Canada that is giving bark beetles a head start in killing trees is discussed when he details the deleterious effects of repeated dry spells.
The writing is easy for lay people to understand, but also includes sound science for those wishing to study the author’s methods.
As E.O. Wilson notes, “To those who are steering the growth of nature reserves worldwide, let me make an earnest request: Don’t stop. Just aim a lot higher.” Wohlleben is aiming higher and encouraging everyone to look for better answers.
Deforestation and climate change are discussed, and the importance of leaving the old growth forests alone also is emphasized.
As Tim Flannery posits in the introduction: “Share with me the joy trees can bring us. And, who knows, perhaps on your next walk in the forest, you will discover for yourself wonders great and small.”
The book was written with support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, the Province of British Columbia through the Book Publishing Tax Credit and the government of Canada.

Candace S. Hughes is an Arizona-based freelance writer. Her most recent work for Smithsonian.com is “How We Created a Monster in the American Southwest.”

Peaceful walks at the Desert Botanical Garden November 10, 2016

Filed under: green,travel,Uncategorized,wildlife — Candace Hughes @ 6:59 pm

As I walk through the garden at sunset I recall the healing events I have experienced here. Since about 1981 I have been visiting the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. I learned about it while doing a story on luminaria when working at the Scottsdale Daily Progress newspaper. The luminaria are paper bags with a candle inside lighting the pathways and the custom comes from the Mexican tradition of leading the way for the coming of Christ. At the garden, musicians hide in grottos playing instruments and bell choirs inspire in an adobe building dating to the 1930s.

In addition to the holiday tradition, the garden offers offrenda or an altar decorated to welcome the souls of the dead which may arrive here for one night on the day of the dead, October 31. I pause to let go and allow my loved ones to rise peacefully to heaven. As I visit a young woman stands weeping at the altar constructed to provide food and drink for the souls of the dead.

The pathways also offer places to grind mesquite beans into flour and listen to frogs by a pond. At a hilltop or butte we have seen a shooting star and on occasion a tortoise emerges from a burrow to peek at visitors.

In addition, our family came there for a respite one late summer night after my husband got home from work. We carried our infant around at sunset until a monsoon began to creep into the garden and we scurried to our car making it just in time before the deluge.
Photo by Darcy Hughes


The case for riparian protection and Pinal County Arizona November 1, 2016

Filed under: green,Pinal County,Uncategorized,wildlife — Candace Hughes @ 5:08 pm

The Gila River near Riverside in eastern Pinal county, Arizona, has water during part of the year depending on rainfall and releases from a dam. It flows along the Arizona Trail and is a wildlife corridor. Animals and birds in the area may include the western screech owl, great horned owl, ringtail, and a variety of birds, snakes, and deer. This is part of the Sonoran desert where rainfall is scarce and water has been a particular problem during 20 years of drought in the western United States and Canada. If Pinal county approves Riparian protection we hope there will be no dumping of treated effluent in washes and no building in or alteration of washes which carry water during infrequent but sometimes violent storms.

The iconic saguaro often graces the sides of washes along with less rare sightings of cottonwoods and other native trees and plants providing habitat for birds and other wildlife. Washes,  or arroyos, provide protection from runoff damaging adjacent structures and human activity. While riverbeds such as the Gila often are dry, they once were free-flowing corridors providing food and shelter for Native Americans. Turkeys and other sources of food were available to people inhabiting the area before overhunting and habitat destruction decimated the game bird.

Offroading in and near washes destroys the stream banks and homes of wildlife such as tortoises, foxes, coyotes and burrowing owls.

A report by a county consultant is awaiting distribution and reportedly will detail the effects of a possible ordinance governing riparian protection.



October 24, 2016

Filed under: Artists in Pinal County,Books,green,Pinal County,travel,wildlife — Candace Hughes @ 6:25 pm

Here are my title suggestions for my National Novel Writing Month project:

Recovering Nature

Desert Desserts

Stop and Smell the Cactus Flowers

Finding Myself in Nature

Natural Pain Relief: Essays on Living in and With the Desert

Meditations on a Thorny Landscape

Get Close But Don’t Touch: Essays on the Sonoran Desert

Listen and Look, but Don’t Touch: Writing in the Desert

Finding Hope in the Southwestern United States20140302-171823.jpg


Saguaro removed October 23, 2016

Filed under: businesss,green,Pinal County,wildlife — Candace Hughes @ 12:10 am

Quail chatter in an adjacent lot wondering where their eggs in hollowed-out dirt bowls  are now resting. Confused deer dash through the area as they are losing their shelter. A bulldozer pants in the background after clearing a 1-acre lot and making a pad for houses. The For Sale sign at 16th Avenue and Sixshooter Road beckons.

In Pinal County, Az., there is no protection for riparian areas or washes and landowners can remove cactus after following specific regulations. If the landowner wishes to move or sell a saguaro, the owner must apply for a permit through the Arizona Department of Agriculture. There are no restrictions forbidding the owner to knock the plant down.

However, the Pinal County Partnership’s Open Space Task Force has made a presentation to the county manager about a proposal protecting land.

A model showing the locations of riparian areas in the county in south-central Arizona is being contracted out for reviewing ordinances and studying the potential effect on landowners, said Kent Taylor, the county’s open-space manager.

The proposal won’t come before the board while the county is still in a fact finding mode, he added.

Saguaro vanishes100_1055