Walter and Sara on the road to who knows where


October in the White Mountains (which is where Show Low is located) is all about fall color. On October 1st, it was still pretty warm at Juniper Ridge Resort (in the mid 80’s) so we took a drive up into the mountains to see how the fall foliage was doing. At the lower elevations, the oaks were turning bronze but up above 8000 feet the aspens had started to turn yellow.

Yellow aspens

It’s funny how they don’t all turn color at once. You’ll see a stand of green ones and then just around the bend, bang they’re all bright yellow.

Yellow aspens

I love the contrast between the clean white trunks and the yellow leaves.

Yellow aspens

We took the turn southward farther up into the mountains where you can see the ski runs at Sunrise Park Resort.   

Yellow aspens

There’s a trailhead along Hwy 273 where we spotted some bright yellow leaves so Walter turned in so I could capture them.

Yellow aspens

The yellow against the pines is even better.

yellow aspens

It was 70 degrees when we got to our old favorite, the Lee Valley Reservoir.   
Lee Valley Reservoir

We took our chairs out onto the beach and sat in the sun enjoying the view.

Walter Cooke in red chair

It got so hot in the sun that we had to find some shade so we could have our lunch. We found some dappled shade with a view of aspens that were just turning and had our lunch and enjoyed the breeze.

Aspens just starting to turn

In late September, our new dining table and chairs arrived. And by the afternoon of the 1st, we’d managed to get the table and 2 of the chairs assembled and the old table and chairs switched out for the new ones.

Dining table and chairs

On October 7th, our long awaited couch (we’d ordered it back in late July and had waited 10 weeks for it rather than the promised 4) arrived. It fit right where it was supposed to go, whew! And funny thing the last of the echo in the room is now gone--hooray. Walter tried it out and pronounced it perfect.

Walter Cooke couch

Now all that the living room needs is something to hang on all that bare wall. Not to worry, we’ve got LOTS of stuff down at our house in Sahuarita that we can bring up to fill it.

Couch in addition

October 10th we had a nice little pastel sunset.


On the 15th we had color to northeast.


And to the southwest.


On October 16th, we finally made the drive to visit Hawley Lake up in the White Mountains. It is on White Mountain Apache tribal lands and was closed all summer because of Covid-19. But it was open finally for non-tribal members—even if all the cabins and stores were closed.

The fall color reached farther down the mountains with the oaks putting on more of a show than 2 weeks before.  

 Oaks fall color

And the trees in the little town of McNary were pretty too.

Fall color

We started to see yellow aspens as we drove out Forest Road 473 to Hawley Lake.

Yellow aspens

Blue sky, yellow trees what more could you want?

Yellow aspens

We followed the road along the perimeter of the lake (turning right at the sign that was dead ahead in the photo above. And there was more color.

Yellow aspens

There are a few cabins in here but not many. But there were plenty of aspens.

Yellow aspens

You could say there was fall color at every turn.

Yellow aspens

We found a nice parking area with access to the lake.

Hawley Lake

It’s a reservoir but unlike many of the lakes in the area, it hadn’t been drawn down much. That’s the dam off in the distance in the middle of this photo.

Hawley Lake

It’s a real pretty lake.

Hawley Lake

And off in the distance the mountains were painted yellow by stands of aspen.

Mts with yellow aspens

And across the lake to the south there was more color.

Lake yellow aspens

The flowers were pretty much done but I did find a few lonely Spreading Fleabane (Erigeron divergens) blooming among the rocks and pine needles.

Spreading Fleabane (Erigeron divergens)

We drove on and the pavement ended as we crossed the dam and continued on to where the lodge, store and boat ramp are. The lodge and store were closed, as were the cabins you can rent in the area but the boat ramp was open and there were lots of folks fishing along the banks and docks.

Hawley Lake

I hiked along the shore a bit to get a photo of the end of the inlet. The campground is across the lake from here. There were people (mostly in RVs) dry camping there.

Hawley Lake

We had our lunch overlooking the lake enjoying the view.

And then began the drive back with more nice views of aspens.       

Yellow aspens

And a great view of the color across the lake.

Lake yellow aspens

Heading back around the lake we got to see the trees from a different angle.

yellow aspens

The sun shining through the yellow leaves is magical but photographing it is beyond my skill set. So I look for shade and hope for the best.

Yellow aspens
The trees where Forest Road 473 starts were fabulous.

Yellow aspens

I stopped for one more photo when we got down in the oaks and I found one with good fall color. They turn a yellow/bronze.

Oak fall color

We finished cleaning up the entire pottery studio on Thursday October 15th, and the last firing was underway on Saturday October 17th, so I took a walk since I couldn’t go play in the mud.

This sweet little bunny was pretending to be invisible as I walked by.  


It’s been an unusually warm October (after an unusually warm summer) so the flowers were still blooming in people’s gardens. This orange coreopsis keeps soldiering on even though its owners left long ago.

Orange coreopsis

The African Daisies all over the park are still at it too (as are the petunias).

Purple african daisy

I was surprised to find some Autumn Sage (a shrub that grows nicely in Tucson too) in bloom in one yard.   

Autumn Sage

The roses are still flourishing too.
white rose red rose
There are these nice trees that look like Liquid Ambers but may be some kind of maple. In any case, they have nice fall color.

fall color

I found a couple of lone pincushion flowers (scabiosa) in one garden.

pincushion flowers (scabiosa)

Lantana keeps on giving too.


There were burgundy dahlias.

Burgundy dahlia

And snapdragons that may just survive the first frost.
red snapdragon Orange snapdragons
The Black Locust trees had turned yellow.

fall color

There were roses in nearly every yard in this stretch of the resort.
orange roses yellow roses  
red roses    

I found some butterfly bush (buddleia) still in bloom.


This celosia was really big.

Red celosia

The biggest surprise was a full row of white bearded iris in bloom. It turns out there’s a re-blooming variety that gives you flowers in both the spring and the fall.

White bearded iris White bearded iris
And last but not least, there were yellow gazanias in bloom.  

yellow gazanias

Sunday October 18th, the last firing of the season came out of the kiln. So I’ll take that as a hint to show you all the things that got finished in October.

There was another wave box to replace the foggy day one I’d made earlier in the summer. That one had the unfortunate experience of the lid fusing to the bottom. This one came out clean as a whistle.

blue wave box

I taught a little luminaria class in October and made this little guy to demonstrate with as we went along. I used one of our glazes that has crystals in it that create interesting patterns.

Square luminaria

One of the most popular things that folks made this summer in the studio were these poppies. I made one so I was sure how to do it so I could teach it this winter (if we’re lucky enough to get the studio open at Rancho Resort). We were out of truly red glaze so I used this one that reminds me of the color of Oriental Poppies.

pottery Oriental Poppy

You mount this on a ¼” threaded metal rod using nuts and washers threaded through the center of the flower so you can plant it in your garden.

This little blue aster was a test of the idea of not having to have a hole in the middle to mount the flower on a rod. It has a thick base with a hole through it to stick the rod into.  

blue pottery flower

This was another of the pencil cups I made. It turned out a little taller than I’d planned because I got carried away pressing leaves into the clay before forming the cylinder.

red clay cylinder

And here’s one that I made the right size and pressed real aspen leaves into (the one above I used rubber leaves). It turns out they don’t make a great impression. Live and learn.
red clay cylinder

One of my goals for the summer was to learn to make a ball. It took two tries but I succeeded. But then I needed to figure out what to do with it. So I made it into a little round luminaria. It has a hole in the back where you can insert a candle.

round luminaria

It goes very nicely with the small square one I made earlier in the summer.  
round and square luminaria

I made a couple of little spoon holders to use up the last of my red clay.

spoon holder spoon holder
And the last box of the season came out wonderfully. I made it from red clay and then sgraffitoed the dragons into black underglaze.

Red clay dragon box

The last project of the season was to make a series of wall totems to help fill up the empty wall over the media center in the dining area. Here’s what I came up with. The bowl is a place holder for a tile that will have that glaze on it (which we ran out of at the end of the season). These tiles will be mounted on molding (with glue) end to end (no spaces between) to form panels about 30” long and 3 ½” wide. They’ll be hung staggered out like they are on my kitchen counter. Some of these will have real live shells added to them too.

pottery wall totems

I’ve got more tiles to make for these and another 3 or 4 more panels to go next spring.

It was a very successful season and the studio definitely kept me from getting restless this summer.