Art is for the birds!

Hallways throughout the Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center are lined with various types of artwork -- including the photo exhibit pictured here

You might think that art is for the birds if you ever find yourself walking the long walls of a hospital worrying about the fate of a loved one. After all, what’s so special about art when a life may hang in the balance?

I learned the hard way over the weekend when my 21-year-old son, who studies and volunteers in the field of desert habitat and wildlife preservation, was having surgery at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center.

It was a long walk from admitting to the surgical waiting area the morning we arrived at the hospital just before 5:30am for surgery prep. The artwork we encountered along the way felt familiar somehow, and helped to ground me during the anxious wait for surgery results (all good, so far, by the way).

I eagerly snapped photos early in Christopher’s stay, before the wear and tear of sleeping all night in a chair took hold and I found myself unable to relocate the photos I so admired to scribble the names of the folks who’d taken them. (Note to the nurses: I’m in love with that chair, and thank you for helping me settle into it.)

Scottsdale Healthcare Shea is a sprawling hospital and medical campus – but lacks the color-coding and other clues to various departments that I’ve so long taken for granted at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. I promise to get back just as soon as we are able to collect proper credits and fold them back into this post.

But for now, I’m happier than you might imagine to be sharing a bit of art with you. (Families whose loved ones fare less well have no time to shoot or share photos.) As I walked this hall, many of the photos conjured memories of our various Arizona adventures as a family through the years.

Photo galleries and other works of art help turn worried walks through long hospital corridors into sentimental strolls down memory lane

The trip James and I took when he was a young associate at Fennemore Craig law firm, and I was pregnant with Christopher. My bulging belly felt nearly as large as the caveronous Grand Canyon we overlooked together with awe. (Okay, I might have been a tad short on awe readying for an August birth in Arizona.)

The drives taken to visit James’ parents when they lived in Las Vegas (more on that story in an upcoming issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine). The jaunts to visit Jennifer while she was attending school in Sedona, and the trips to Prescott each summer for a week of chorus camp. Hiking field trips all our kids took with classmates from Desert View Learning Center (James chaperones outings that require breaking a sweat).

The photos also called to mind certain family eccentricities (most of which would be better blabbed by book than blog). Like the fact that we all get weak-kneed over those adorable birds with the things on top of their heads. I can never remember the names of these quail (too many years watching similar but different birds in Alaska) — so I’ve resorted to calling them “dingadings.”

“Dingading” sightings on the way to or from school each day are cause for celebration in our little world — one of life’s simple pleasures, I suppose. Which might explain why Christopher and I so enjoyed a trip taken earlier this year to the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix.

The afternoon outing was taken before the word “cancer” entered his personal vocabulary — when the “C-words” most commonly uttered between us were “camera” and “critter.” I’ll be sharing a slide show of that day’s adventures with you in a future post — hoping it inspires you to take some time with your own family to explore the outdoor habitat and indoor exhibits at the Center.

The Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix features indoor exhibits and outdoor areas for enjoying Arizona plant and animal life

If you still need the lecture about why making time for such family moments is important, you haven’t been reading posts from Raising Arizona Kids writers closely enough of late — many of which share our encounters with some of life’s toughest moments.

Somewhere in my travels, probably time spent enjoying the Raising Arizona Kids Magazine Camp Fair last month, I picked up a bookmark noting upcoming events at the Rio Salado Audubon Center — like the free “Migration Celebration” festival scheduled for Sat, April 9, from 9am-3pm.

My nifty bookmark reminds me that “Springtime at the Audubon Center” includes a “nature story and craft time” every Saturday at 10am, a “stream stroll” to explore the habitat every Sunday at 11am, and live animals with “Liberty Wildlife” every 2nd Saturday at 11am. Plus weekend bird walks and classes.

I got all that from the front of the bookmark. The back describes “Camp Audubon Adventures” from Audubon Arizona — including five week-long sessions (weekly camps start June 13 and end July 22; there’s no camp the week of July 4).

All camps run from 8am-1pm, but after care is available from 1-5pm for an additional charge. Camp themes include “Jr. Naturalist,” “Bird Blitz,” “Pollinator Power,” and “CSI Audubon.” Interested campers and those who love them can learn more by clicking here – and feel free to offer your best bird call while doing so.

I’m grateful that Christopher is back home with us now, healing and feeling eager to explore more of Arizona and the many wonders in our own backyard.

– Lynn

Note: Watch for future posts featuring slide shows of art at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center and the Rio Salado Audubon Center.

Coming up: A walk on the “Wilde” side, Make my “Green Day!”

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