Thursday, May 26, 2011

Determination

On a hike today I was surprised to find this little patch of snow. It's granulated and icy, sharp around the edges, tough and hard crusted. It clearly intends to stay for as long as it can. I have to admire that kind of determination, whether or not it is intentional, and I respectfully stepped around it, wishing it well as I passed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Volunteers

Oooh, I do love volunteers! These are, as near as I could tell from my flower book, Delphinium Patens, commonly known as Spreading Larkspur. Someone must have had a patch of them last year. Blessings to you, whoever you are!





Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dogwood Winter

Winter decided to pay us a return visit, riding in on the winds and giving us a couple of inches of snow. She left in a hurry, leaving the ground white and the sky a beautiful deep blue backdrop for a few dollops of puffy white clouds.

I think this must be the little Stellar Jay's first experience with snow. She (or he) has been visiting the feeders, anxious parents never far away, for the past several days, and didn't quite know what to make of the cold white stuff.

I don't actually remember the first time I saw snow, but my mother told me I was enchanted with it...and cried when it melted in my hand.


Monday, May 9, 2011

A Gift From Spring

We've had wonderful soft Spring rain off and on for the past two days. The temperatures have been a little cooler than what is normal for May. I wish this would become the new normal for all of California; cooler and wetter instead of hotter and drier. By the time I've gotten through 5 or 6 months of no rain I feel as though I'm just a hair's breadth away from insanity.

To me, it was an amazing gift to be able to go outside and breathe in great lungfuls of wet, cool air that intensifies the scent of the pines, cedars, lilacs and apple blossoms. It was also nice to come back into my cottage to a little fire crackling on the hearth and a hot cup of tea.

Oh, how I wish this weather would stay!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Spring Walk, Part Two

The photo above is of a California Quail, the official state bird. This one is a male. I catch glimpses of them quite often. However, they are extremely shy, which is why it's so difficult to get a good picture of one. This one isn't a good one either, but it's the first one I've gotten of the crest being held aloft.


I'm not sure what type of butterfly this is, but she stayed still just long enough for me to snap a picture and then, no doubt having important business elsewhere, away she went!

This lizard looks like he is bedecked with iridescent jewels, and very graciously agreed to pose for a photo.

This current Mrs. Coyote (she has had many ancestors during the years I have lived here) is about 7 years old. She has a den further up the hillside behind me.  I saw her coming down, so I moved a good distance away (thank goodness I have a fantastic zoom lens!) so she would feel comfortable passing by on her way to the creek. I also don't want her to become used to being in close contact with humans. That would get her killed.  In years past I've caught glimpses of her with her pups. I don't leave food out for the Coyotes normally, but when we've had a very hard winter I have occasionally left several pounds of raw steaks near their den. I figure maybe by doing that I'm saving the life of some of the feral cats that I feed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Spring Walk, Part One

On my walk yesterday I saw lots of Baby Blue Eyes, huge patches of them. However, a picture of a huge patch washes the flowers out to white. Does anyone know why they're called Baby Blue Eyes? I've always wondered. The flowers are small, only about the size of a man's thumbnail.

Baby Oak tree leaves were springing out all over, giving the oak trees a reddish haze around them. These are California White Oaks. The Ponderosa Pines are making new cones. They're so strange looking! More Lunaria all over the place. I just love it. Wild Columbine (sorry, this is a terrible picture; I had seen an animal friend in the distance and I wanted to get out of her way. I'll post the animal friends I met along the way tomorrow). Wild Sweet Pea. The scent of this is heavenly, much more intense than the hybridized varieties. Lots of California Wild Lilac (Caenothus) both white and lavender blue. It doesn't smell like lilacs at all, but has a very faint, sweet scent. White Caenothus above, blue below.

Lots of apple blossoms on the trees close to my studio and cottage. AND... this year there are lots of bees! Last year there were hardly any. I'm always so glad to see bees, even if nary a one would pose for a photo. It was warm yesterday! The dogs were fine, they'd had drinks of cool, clear creek water along the way, but I was looking forward to a glass of iced tea when we got home. (The upper part of my studio door. The writing on the tin flower holder reads 'Fleurs' which is French for 'flowers' but it has always looked like 'Heurs' to me...which is I don't know what!).

Monday, May 2, 2011

While I was Busy...

The hillside grasses are greening up, although if we don't get some rain soon they'll go right back to being a silvery beige.

Lunaria, also known as Money Plant, Silver Dollar Plant and Moonwort, is blooming everywhere...

My daffodils popped up, here and lots of other places in my garden, and I nearly missed seeing the blooms.

All through the woods the Sierra Pink Currant bushes are loaded with blossoms, which means plenty of berries for the birds and chipmunks come Autumn...

A patch of dandelions emerged by my studio door. They're one of my favorite flowers. I don't care if other people call them weeds, they're just so cheerful...


A few of the violets that I transplanted from my mother's yard in 1989 are blooming. They're very late this year, but then I suppose it's because the snow just wouldn't melt. There are still a few patches in the shady part of the forest.

And the path along the ridge top beckons for me to come and walk it. So I'm going to call the dogs, and off we'll go!
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