Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Different California

I recently spent a week with a friend who lives in the same mountain range that I do, but down in a wide canyon in the foothills. It is a very different California than the one I live in. I had a lot of pictures that I intended to post here, but I've been having problems uploading pictures to my blog. Getting these two on here took an hour! So, I guess I will just have to content myself with the two pictures of beautiful California Poppies, our state flower. They grow wild all around her house, covering acres with gold and orange glory.
She lost her home not once, but twice, to wildfire. I think the home she lives in now, built in the same place as her former homes, will not be harmed if, God/dess forbid, another wildfire comes through. Its walls are built of amber colored stone, and are three feet thick. Its roof is tile, sealed in the curves so that embers with evil intent will find no welcome there. The eaves are also sealed and there are fireproof shutters to cover all the windows and doors. It is a fortress against fire, but a beautiful one. It reminds me of homes I saw when I was in Tuscany.
Gone is the dense Live Oak forest and Manzanita bushes. The whole canyon is far more open, except for the Alder trees by the creek, which is small in width but deep, with wider pools perfect for swimming.
Sitting on her stone patio, surrounded by large, elegant urns of flowers in purple, yellow, and orange, listening to the calls of birds that I never see or hear in the alpine forest where I live, I feel that I am in another country. In the distance I can see the Italian Cypresses she has planted, standing tall, narrow and deeply green against the green-brown hills that enclose the canyon. The sky is a wide swath of brilliant blue, much more sky than I am used to seeing all at once. Winding, honey colored stone steps lead down from the patio to the hot pink blooms of a carpet of ice plant (a plant that has so much water in its stems it will not burn) that surrounds her house. A stone path wends its way down a gentle slope carpeted with poppies, pale pink wild roses, Mexican Primroses, and daisies, ending at the alders by the creek.
Walking back up from the creek I see fat, furry black and yellow Bumble bees having a fine time in all the flowers. When I sit on a large rock along side the path mid-way up the slope to catch my breath, one of the Bumbles comes over to perch companionably on my knee. We regard each other for a bit, then she flies back to sing her humming song with her family. Their song, combined with the scent of the many flowers, the somnolent warmth of the day, and the quiet murmuring of the creek as it flows, so different from the rushing of the stream by my house in spring, lulls me into sleep. I awake to find one of the little jewel colored lizards that live in this canyon staring at me, no more that an inch away from my nose. It is a beautiful emerald green color and seems mildly surprised that I have opened my eyes. Then a hummingbird zooms over, startling both of us, and the little gem of a lizard is gone. I leave too, to go up to the house for dinner, then to bed to dream, not of golden California poppies, but the beautiful red poppies of Tuscany.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Wisteria Tree

This wisteria vine, growing up through a 75 foot Cedar tree, puts on a beautiful show every year in spring. I've grown wisteria on my property but I found that the fragrance, so heavenly to me in small doses, gave me a migraine when combined with the fragrance of lilacs...

and apple blossoms.
It hurt my heart to cut it down, but I consoled myself with the thought that I could always go to see the "Wisteria Tree," conveniently located next to an old fashioned ice cream parlor.
Today a friend and I visited the ice cream parlor and were pleased to see the Wisteria Tree looking great. We ate our hot fudge coffee ice cream sundaes outside on the little patio under the tree, listening to the bees singing in the wisteria and the breeze rustling the pines, thinking that, sometimes life is pretty darn good.
Then an acquaintance of ours walked by and said, "Wow, you two are going to have to WALK home to work off those sundaes! At our ages we really have to watch the calories, you know."
Oh, good grief!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ladybug Day

Today the Ladybugs hatched here. Thousands, maybe millions, of them flying in huge swarms in the sunny patches in our forest. I love Ladybugs and I anxiously watch each spring for the day they will hatch. It's never on the same day every year. I guess it depends on the weather. I like to go out and let them land on me. They're very polite; I've never had more than ten at a time land on me. I also hurry to give the plants in my garden a shower with the hose so the Ladybugs will be drawn to my plants instead of the creek or lake. I've read that they're very thirsty after they hatch, so if the plants in your garden have water on them the Ladybugs will stay around, instead of flying off in search of water. I made particularly sure that my poor, struggling rose bushes were drenched so the Ladybugs could not only get a drink but eat the dratted aphids that are attacking the tender, new shoots the roses are putting out. Poor roses; they don't get as much sun as they should, and are a little spindly, but they bloom valiantly all summer long, especially the Fairy Rose. I wonder if the Ladybugs tell each other about the "all you can eat and drink free bar and buffet" in my garden and what kind of directions would they use? Maybe something like, "Fly past the purple lilacs until you come to the first white one, then take a sharp left. When you come to the pink lilac, take a sharp right, fly past the group of cedar trees, turn left by the big holly bush, and there you are!"
Related Posts with Thumbnails