Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Sunsets

This was taken in August of last year. Instead of looking in the direction of the sun, I was caught by the colors that the setting sun was imparting to the clouds, and its gilding of the land, trees and buildings.

Sometimes things are most beautiful when looked at from a perspective that differs from the norm.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mountain Driftwood

This is a close-up photo of the blossoms of a Arctostaphylos pringlei, ssp. Durpacea, commonly called Manzanita here in California. The individual blossoms are tiny, only about a quarter of an inch long. I've always thought they look like little lampshades that faeries would use.  Or, maybe they turn them upside down and use them as cups...

They grow all over these mountains, from about the 4,800 foot level to around the 7,600 level in altitude. This sub-species, Durpacea, is only found in California. Manzanita means 'little apple' in Spanish. The blossoms form little red berries which, if you use your imagination, sort of look like little apples. The birds and the bears love them. All Manzanitas, also called Madrone, are members of the Heath family, which includes blueberries, huckleberries, cranberries and, most surprisingly, rhododendrons and azaleas!

The Yuhaviatam (people of the pines) used the berries to make a cider-like beverage. The Yuhaviatam are known now as the Serrano Indians, but that's the name the Spanish invaders gave them, not the name they chose for themselves. Unfortunately, the Yuhaviatam had no written language, so I don't know what they called the Manzanita.

Manzanitas can grow up to six feet tall. This picture doesn't do the beautiful reddish bark justice. The branches are prized for their twisting, curving shapes. However, it's illegal to cut them unless one has a permit from the Forestry Service, and even then there is a strict limit on how many can be harvested. When a Manzanita dies, over a period of years the wood is bleached to a silvery grey by the sun; then it's called 'Mountain Driftwood.'

Monday, June 14, 2010

White Headed Woodpecker

This is a White Headed Woodpecker. I'm not sure why they call them 'white headed' since they have two bright red dots on the back of their heads, which you can see in the second photo, but....

They have the most beautiful call. I can always tell when one is coming to the feeder because I hear their one-note, clear, bell-like call as they're flying through the woods to get to the feeder.

I'm so blessed to live in the middle of a forest, and I'm so glad I can provide food for all the different species of birds that live here, along with the squirrels, skunks, and raccoons. The bigger species that live here (bears, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, foxes) are a thrilling (and very rare) sight to see, but I draw the line at putting out food for them. I'd love to feed them, but I'm afraid they'd eat all the smaller animals, along with the feral cats I feed.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Sunsets

This was taken a couple of weeks ago, from a turnout by Lake Silverwood.  Lake Silverwood is the lowest elevation lake in the San Bernardino Mountain range, man-made like most of the others.  A 20 minute drive further down the 'back' side of the mountain will land you in Hesperia, a high desert town.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oh, How Sweet.....

their little faces are.  The other end...not so much.  I've never been sprayed though, knock on wood.  These little guys are in front of my studio.  I was laying down on the path, trying to get a picture of the path lights without using my strobe.  I heard a little chirping, whirring noise to my left, and when I turned my head there they were!  The two in the foreground are babies and you can see the mother's tail in the upper left of the photo. 

Although people think I'm crazy, I adore skunks.  I vastly prefer them to the raccoons, which trash my garden on a regular basis.  The skunks never trash, they just dig gently around the plants in search of bugs to eat.  They never disturb the roots, they just dig out the nasty things that might be eating the roots.  I sort of think of them as my little garden helpers. 

And there is another bonus to having skunks around.  Put up a few signs that read 'warning: skunks in area' and you never have to worry about unwanted nocturnal human 'visitors' again! 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Good Things

I planted this pink dogwood about 7 or 8 years ago.  It bloomed the next spring, but the blooms weren't the pink that it had when I brought it home from the nursery; they were white.  After that, it never bloomed again.  It seemed healthy in every other way, putting out dark green leaves and gaining a little height every year.

I can't imagine why it took so long to bloom, or why it chose this Spring with its crazy weather and up and down temperatures.  Perhaps the crazy weather shocked it into blooming.  Or perhaps, as my husband says, it's the perfect tree for me because, like me, it has its own way of doing things and a big stubborn streak (I prefer to call it 'character,' thank you very much).

Whatever the reason, I'm so happy that it finally bloomed.  I guess that old saying is true (at least in this instance): All good things come to those who wait. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Still Captivated

 I was fascinated with this Iris, the only one that I saw that had bifurcated the purple and the white/purple stripes on one petal.  

Ooooh, what a blue! 

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Yesterday a friend and I went to lunch at the Olive Garden, a restaurant down the hill.  We were late for lunch because I just had to stop and take pictures of these beautiful irises.  I think it's some sort of a tiny public garden, but I didn't take time to read the plaque.  Well ok, to be honest, I didn't even notice the plaque until I got home and uploaded my photos.  I was too captivated by the Irises!


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