Archive for the ‘Wildflowers’ Category
The combination of warm sun and flowing water means that there are a lot of things to be seen on the river. Flowers, for example . . .
They are mostly the common (and not too spectacular) fiddleneck.
Still, they are pretty close up.
This pair of mallards has been hanging around, probably looking for a good nesting site. They were completely unbothered by the dogs, paddling a few feet out into the river, then paddling right back.
This morning brought out something I hadn’t seen in a while. I looked out and noticed all of the downstream horses rushing over to goggle at something in the river. So I went out to see what it was. I could see something moving out by the big island, and it was coming my way. (Notice the partly submerged palm tree. It’s one of those I thought would never recover after the big fire four years ago. Now we’ll see how it likes having its feet wet.)
Sure enough, it was a gentleman in a kayak — the first in five years. He paddled over, and we chatted for a while. I pointed out that the current was not as strong over here on the north bank, and he paddled off upriver. It looked like fun . . . but not easy.
Last night I went out to look at the moon on the water, and I heard frogs — or at least a frog. Another thing that hasn’t been around for years. Perhaps we’ll here something like the deafening chorus of other years before the summer’s out.
Here are some more pictures from our wildflower quest. We kept looking for poppies, but didn’t see any until we drove back on a different road. Then the brilliant patch on the hillside was unmistakable. It’s quite different from the orange of fiddleneck.
We soon found a closer patch.
Closer yet. The poppies were scattered among popcorn flower, filaree, and tiny brilliant fuchsia red maids.
We had to crawl up a hill for close-ups. Some bugs had been working on this one . . .
. . . but this one was perfect.
Today certainly wasn’t a perfect day here. We got up to the news that one of the work trucks had been stolen. It was the one with a “cherry picker” that we often used for tree trimming, but it also had a generator and a full load of tools. The crew was using it to work on the fence, and when it got parked, the key was left in. Helper Jerry saw it driving out about six this morning, followed by a brown SUV, but thought it was going back to work. Nope.
Billy thinks we have a good chance of getting it back, or at least most of it, but all of the tools and equipment will be gone. It can’t have gone far; it’s been non-opped for years and had no license. It will have gone just far enough to find a quiet spot to strip it. It was too tall to fit in most garages, so it’ll likely be found by the side of a road somewhere.
I can hear the welder going outside now, though. They are managing to finish up the repair job without it. We really do have a good crew — even if they are relations!
Here’s a lupine. The colors seem much brighter in the hills. My foot and Kitty’s shoulder don’t add much to the shot!
Marion and I snapped pictures of each other as we rode. Here’s one I took of Marion.
Here are some she took of me. In the first one, I’m taking a picture, too.
It was a wonderful day; one to remember when we’re old. Which of course won’t be for years yet!
Marion and I have been hoping to trailer up to the hills for a wildflower ride all spring. Sarah (brave girl) was willing to take us, but one thing and then another kept getting in the way. Yesterday, we made it at last.
Rancheria is one of my favorite places to ride. It’s not too far out of Bakersfield; the road is little traveled yet not too rough; and once you start climbing into the hills, there are usually wildflowers. It was so sweet of Sarah to take us up there to have a wonderful short ride.
There were a few problems. First, Sarah’s mount Pepsi and EZ did not get along in the trailer, so we wound up taking only two horses. We were disappointed that Sarah didn’t get to ride, but she was philosphical. Second, Xena knew what loading our horses in the trailer meant, and wanted to go too. Peaches followed her, so boarder Ethan kindly held them until we were out of sight. Then, when we got up there, we missed our turnout and had to turn around — right where the county was working on the road. That wasn’t easy, but Sarah managed, and finally we got parked and the horses unloaded. Sarah helped us saddle up, then planned to indulge in a quiet nap.
We saddled up, and headed down the trail. The spot where we parked doesn’t have a lot to see, but we knew we didn’t have to go far. Sure enough, only a little way down the road we hit the first oak trees, and fields of orange fiddleneck.
There was lots of fiddleneck. It’s the most common wildflower up here.
Even the banks of the road were spotted with flowers. Blue dick, miner’s lettuce, red maids, and more.
The road rises gradually, offering new views at every turn.
Still more wildflowers . . .
We kept on climbing, but we knew we’d have to turn back before too long. We didn’t want to stress our horses, so we rode for less than an hour before we turned around. We didn’t really go farther than we would on a ride at home — just hillier. That road is sure tempting.
More tomorrow . . .
After we crossed the weirs, back to the north side of the river, we went home along the Lupine Trail. This is not an official name; it’s just what Marion and I call this area along the edge of the little mesa. In good years, we can find lupines there; but not for a couple of years now.
So we were thrilled when we found some actual lupines. Right by EZ’s feet.
Here are some more.
And yet more.
Now this may not be very thrilling, compared to the great seas of blue you see in pictures, but it thrilled us. Nearly as much as looking down on a meadow . . .
It was glorious.
Most of yesterday was spent running errands. The bank/pharmacy/post office/grocery/pharmacy again run wasn’t unpleasant, exactly, but it sure did cut into the day. There wasn’t much time left over.
So here are a couple of pictures that got left out of previous postings. This cloud, for example. I thought it looked a little like an angel flying along, blowing a trumpet.
Well — if you’ve got a really good imagination.
Speaking of angels . . . just look at this weed.
I went out early a couple of mornings ago, and caught the light shining through the glorious white flowers of the Jimsonweed. It’s the only thing flowering right now, and yes, it’s a weed. But a beauty.
I’ve featured Jimsonweed (aka moonflower, Devil’s snare, Devil’s trumpet, and Hell’s Bells) several times, and noted that it’s very toxic. It’s also the only thing that grew in my attempted garden, after the squirrels got through with it. Even they wouldn’t eat it.
What does that have to do with angels? Well, there’s a closely related cultivated form, also toxic, with huge dangling flowers in lavender, yellow, or white. And what is it called?
Angels’ trumpet, of course.
Here it is, 71 at three-thirty. That’s what I call weather!
Yesterday was a busy day, though not in any unpleasant way. The worst thing that happened was that Mr. Coffee died. I staggered out to the kitchen at six or so, turned on the coffee — and nothing happened. The little light came on, so it was getting power, but it was stone cold dead. I was in despair until Billy reminded me that we could make boiled coffee. After all, people did drink coffee before coffeemakers. So I did, and was reminded that it’s really better than regular coffee, except for the grounds. I ran it through a sieve, but that doesn’t get quite all.
So now we have a new Mr. Coffee, and the old one is going to the Great Coffeehouse in the Sky — or at least the garbage can.
At noon, Marion and I attended a very pleasant event. It was a lunch for Gerald Haslam, the writer. He has written about the Central Valley, and especially Oildale, throughout several excellent books. The one about the Bakersfield Sound is perhaps the best-known, but I like his short stories.
I was reading a couple to Billy. One was about playing Tarzan in the river bottom, in the days when the grapevines made it a very good stand-in for the African jungle. Billy remembers having to chop trails for the horses with a machete, in the days when his mother Irma ran a rental string. Another was about some Okies, who at one point were desperate enough to milk some cows they found grazing by the river. Billy roused up and said, “Those were our cows!” They would have been, too. I don’t remember if the story was fiction or not, but Billy assured me that Irma would never have called the police, as happened in the story. That’s if I remember correctly. It was some years ago.
Anyway, it was fun to listen to Mr. Haslam talk about writing. Some of the guests contributed river stories, too. I especially enjoyed hearing Bill Cooper talk about kayaking from Bakersfield to San Francisco in the high-water year of 1983. I remember trying to explain it to my students at that time, who resolutely refused to believe it. No one could boat to San Francisco. After all, everyone knew water didn’t flow uphill, and it was all uphill. Just look at the map! And some adults believed the same thing.
Marion and I did enjoy ourselves, whether it was the lunch, listening to Mr. Haslam, or the hospitality of our hosts the Shepherds. They have a beautiful native plant garden.
The day before, I found a wild sunflower in full bloom downriver. This is the best picture I took, with an attentive Xena in the background.
I kind of liked this one, though, with the disappearing puppy bottom.
This morning I was sipping (boiled) coffee, when I heard thumping and thudding from the bathroom. I hurried in, to find Peaches thundering up and down inside the tub. I thought she had gotten in by accident, but when I called her she hopped out — then hopped right back in. She likes loud noises, if she makes them. One of her favorite toys is an empty plastic flower pot, which she chases up and down the hall. But the tub is going a little too far. It was full of muddy paw prints.
I guess I’ll have to remember to keep the door shut. I don’t like the way she was looking at the toilet . . .
She’s certainly a creative pup.