Spring is definitely here in all its joy and wonder!
“A flower blossoms for its own joy.” Oscar Wilde
“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day He created spring.” Bernard Williams
“Spring is when life’s alive in everything.” Christina Rossetti
“No matter how chaotic it is, wildflowers will still spring up in the middle of nowhere.” Sheryl Crow
A good place to appreciate the glory and beauty of spring as it spreads across the land is the Carrizo Plain in San Luis Obispo County, California. Measuring roughly 50 miles by 15 miles, these native grasslands are the largest remaining in California. Within this area, 246,812 acres are designated as the Carrizo Plain National Monument.
The color slowly starts showing up along Highway 58, heading to the north entrance to the Carrizo Plain.
Near the intersection of Highway 58 and Seven Mile Road, yellow blooms seem to spread across the whole Temblor Range.
Soda Lake Road showcases flowers along its sometimes unpaved route. Well, of the 46 miles of Soda Lake Road that connects Highway 58 and Highway 166, about half is not paved. Its gravel foundation is often riddled with deep ruts and potholes. But do not let that aspect of the road deter you from taking this splendid drive.
Heck, I go slow anyway to gawk at flowers and stop for photographs.
Winds are a constant companion.
Closing in on the south entrance to the Carrizo Plain.
“If Spring came but once a century instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake and not in silence, what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It was a glorious, marvelous, wonderful very good day!
NOTE: I think these are the names of the flowers included in this post: California Poppy, Molonopia, Baby Blue Eyes, Valley Phacelia, Tidytips, Milk Vetch, Owl Clover, and something blue on a tall stalk.
IT’S EARTH DAY. AS MUCH AS WE CELEBRATE THE BEAUTY AND WONDER OF OUR EARTH, WE ALSO NEED TO DO WHAT WE CAN TO PROTECT THIS WORLD.
On 11 April 2023, I took a drive out to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, eager to see lots and lots of poppies. That glorious orange taking over the fields and fluttering in the breeze is a wonder to see. The Reserve’s live cam was not showing much color around the Reserve itself, but I was hopeful the hills in the area might have a brighter display.
From Bakersfield, I took Highway 58, Tehachapi Willow Springs Road, and then Highway 138 to get to the Reserve. The drive had its own beauty, but not many poppies.
Getting closer to the Reserve, flowers were more and more evident.
Near the Reserve, the hills were still pretty sparse. But I did pick up some local honey. Don’t the local pecans and almonds in local honey look scrumptious?
I drove home via I-5 and Gorman Postal Road—always a pretty good spot for flowers.
Once home, I saw some articles saying the bloom in the area of the Poppy Reserve had fields and fields of poppies dancing around. I did not see them. Not sure how I missed them. But I guess I better take another drive through the area.
This weekend (18-19 March 2023) is an especially good one to go visit. It is the Preserve’s annual Spring Nature Festival. I stick to the main drives and take photos from the car. But you can browse the visitor center, learn from the rangers, take hikes, even camp—or better yet participate in various programs. Go visit!
Here are my photos from my visit on Friday, 17 March.
The fields are lush and green, populated with a growing array of wildflowers.
The yellow Fiddleneck are still evident, but they are starting to wane a bit.
The Blue Dicks are still blooming as well.
I even enjoy the grasses!
Close to the road are some little pinkish purple flowers. I think they are some sort of Wood Sorrel. They seem to just be starting to bloom.
These dainty yellow blossoms are showing up too, but I don’t know what they are. Any help would be appreciated.
The birds were pretty active—in the fields. A few stayed visible enough for photos. The meadowlark with its yellow breast and delightful melody is one of my favorites. Even the scrawny teenagers learning to sing.
On the road toward a parking area for some hiking trails, the hills are now turning a bright yellow,
On one scenic tour years ago, the tour guide said with confidence that these yellow flowers are officially called, “Freeway Flowers!” I have also heard them called Goldfields as well as the stuffy sounding Molonopia.
Grape Soda Lupines are some of my favorites!
Way out in a field, I thought I saw a different color—orange not golden yellow—and I finally spotted this one little glump of California Poppies. I bet there will be more on my next visit!
Definitely put a visit to the Wind Wolves Preserve on your list of things to do this spring–even this weekend!
I did not get out into Nature much in 2022 because I had some minor health issues that impacted my independence and mobility. But I am now getting back to a more active routine.
It’s been a long dry year. Until recently.
In 2023, it has been raining and raining, helping to undermine the ongoing drought being felt across California. The hope is that a great wildflower bloom will erupt any time now. In some places down south, flowers are already showing.
I decided to take a little drive, just needing help from a friend to actually get in the car. I can do everything else: pick up lunch at a drive thru, maneuver into decent parking places to get some photos, wait patiently while enjoying the beautiful scenes, even getting myself and walker out of the car once home. It was a good afternoon.
Being a long weekend, there were some other folks out and about, enjoying the Wind Wolves Preserve. But I was mostly alone and could ignore the others and simply enjoy the solitude.
I was hoping for the start of a growing display of wildflowers, but very few were evident. Little pops of yellow were all I could find.
But the hills were delightfully green and the skies were blue.
I avoided people but enjoyed the company of some prairie dogs and a few birds. Most of the birds—including meadowlarks—were heard but not seen. The meadowlark photo is from here in an earlier year. I have never yet seen a Kit Fox or Tarantula, but maybe I will get lucky on future trips.
Overall, it felt like a nice early spring day. But the drive home reminded me that winter was still lurking. As I crested the road into the mountains, the temperatures dropped, the vistas were dusted in a bit of snow, and the sun was muted behind some clouds.
But I also drove right by some almond orchards as they are starting to blossom. Gorgeous!
Overall, it was a great afternoon of contrasts. I hope to make more drives over the next several weeks to see more and more blossoms as they dance across the hills.
“The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go.”
Fall is in the air. A break from the heat and hecticness of summer is always welcome. But with fall comes holidays and all they involve, including crowds, gatherings and too much shopping as well as loss and memory and ongoing transitions.
Finding a path through the upheaval and grief so many of us face every day is not impossible. It does help to have a community where you can share your feelings and memories. The Grief and Happiness Alliance provides that ongoing community, whether your grief or transition is new and raw or gentle but insistent. I am writing today to invite you to attend a virtual event that will introduce you to the Grief and Happiness Alliance and the community support it offers.
This event will introduce the Alliance and share happiness practices. Inspiring breakout sessions will encourage the pursuit of happiness in a variety of ways that can meet the needs of any who are managing grief and other transitions. There is no charge for this event, although donations to support the work of the Alliance are appreciated.
When you register for the free event “Falling into Gratitude: An Equinox Gathering,” you will receive a link to the zoom event that will take place on September 25. The registration process is easy and just takes a few minutes. Basically, you put your name and email address in twice; once to join Event Brite and then again immediately to select this event. Information is kept secure and there is no charge. You will receive the link for the event via email.
When you register, you will be provided the link to the actual zoom event.
HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!
Here’s a little background and some more details about the Grief and Happiness Alliance Nonprofit Event and its genesis:
The last couple of years have been challenging. Overall, I have been faring well enough and am most thankful for the time available for growth and exploration. But the best part of this last year has been working with the Grief and Happiness Alliance.
Recently, the Grief and Happiness Alliance has grown into a Nonprofit to expand its efforts at offering comfort, understanding and support as well as pathways to happiness for those who are grieving no matter what or how recent the loss.
The Grief and Happiness Alliance Nonprofit was founded by Emily Thiroux Threatt, a long time friend. Her simple goal to help individuals deal with grief and loss grew out of her experiences with personal loss and her wish to help others with the understanding that she gained through her journey. The pandemic and its devastating effects on so many lives have brought further attention to the need for this type of work. Thus, this organization was formed and this event was planned.
“Searching for Light: Finding Balance during the Equinox” is the first virtual zoom event hosted by the Grief and Happiness Alliance Nonprofit Organization. It takes place on Sunday, March 20, 2022, at 9 am HST/12 pm PST/3 pm EST.* The event will introduce the Alliance and its purpose and goals as well as share happiness practices. There will be a general session and some breakout sessions that will introduce participants to practices that help individuals move forward in their grief and loss. There is no charge for this event, although donations to support the work of the Alliance would be appreciated. You can register for the event for free. When you register, you will be provided the link to the actual zoom event.
THE ACTUAL ALLIANCE:
The Grief and Happiness Alliance is more than the Searching for Light Event. Its website offers information, useful resources, and ongoing weekly sessions that help participants deal with life, death and moving on. Even if you cannot attend the Zoom Event on the Equinox, consider visiting the website and joining the Alliance to stay informed of future resources and events. Here is the link for the Grief and Happiness Alliance website.
To learn more about Emily’s journey, the start of the Grief and Happiness Alliance and its weekly writing-through-grief sessions, watch this short video (12 minutes):
GETTING THE WORD OUT:
Please share this event and information with all those you think may find the service helpful or who have experienced some sort of loss. Of course, that pretty much means everyone! Thanks.
SUPPORTING THE WORK OF THE ALLIANCE:
If you want to make a donation before attending the Searching for Light Event or even joining the Grief and Happiness Alliance, here’s a link to make a donation.
*TIME. TIME. TIME.
Emily, our founder, lives in Hawaii and that is where the weekly virtual writing-through-grief sessions are hosted. The rest of us are spread throughout the country, so every time we meet, we list all the varying time zones. Thus, we try to always list the time for any meeting as Hawaii, Pacific and Eastern times. A couple people on the board actually live in Mountain time, but they are on their own remembering that their start time is an hour later than Pacific. Anyway, we trust you will figure out your area’s start time. I hope to see you there!
A PERSONAL NOTE:
Those who follow my blog know that I most often find solace in Nature. It gives me peace, comfort, sense of balance and well being. I can’t wait to get out this Spring to find some wildflowers, but until then, I am sharing some favorites for a little visit to Nature. Second to Nature, joining the Grief and Happiness Alliance and attending “The Searching for Light” event is the next best thing to finding comfort and solace. I hope to see you there!
It has been quite some time since I took a little vacation in Nature. Not just because of COVID. The last two springs, wildflowers have not been extensive. In fact, it felt almost like Nature had been holding her breath and waiting for the world to get back to normal—like everyone else.
Last week, I finally decided I really needed to get out and about. My car was in good shape, I was fully vaccinated, and the state was slowly opening back to business as usual. I drove to Monterey, CA, just to spend some time enjoying the ocean—and maybe seeing some flowers and redwoods too.
The hotel offered some pretty flowers around the grounds.
My first goal was to take a drive along State Route 9 to Big Basin Redwoods State Park. My review of online information suggested the park was accessible, even if camping was not an option. However, the drive was beleaguered by extensive construction delays that eventually closed access to the park itself. I did see a few glimpses of the forest area from the road, including some evidence of the fire that wracked the area not long ago.
The best part of this trip was enjoying the power and beauty of the ocean.
This Great Blue Heron welcomed me early in the day.
This Black Oystercatcher was hanging out on the rocks. It took me a minute to notice him out there.
Of course, across from the coast there were hills and flowers–and even some Mule Deer that refused to pose.
As usual, Cormorants hang out on Bird Rock, along with an occasional Brown Pelican. The Pelicans were flying by all afternoon, but they refused to alight anywhere and pose.
California Gulls were around as well.
The ocean views and crashing waves are always wondrous and mesmerizing.
The sunset was glorious too.
Nature always brings me peace, a spiritual connection with all of life.
“Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.” Georgia O’Keeffe
Flowers are incredible. They bring beauty and hope to the world. And that is certainly something we need more of now in the world, but especially in America. I appreciate this week’s Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #101—One Single Flower as a prompt to share some of the magnificence of flowers. To see flowers from all over, visit the other responses to this week’s challenge—you will not be disappointed.
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” Audrey Hepburn
“The fairest thing in nature, a flower, still has its roots in earth and manure.” D. H. Lawrence
“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” A. A.Milne
“Every flower blooms in its own time.” Ken Petti
“The flower that follows the sun does so even on cloudy days.” Robert Leighton
“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made and forgot to put a soul into.” Henry Ward Beecher
“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” Luther Burbank
“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” Henri Matisse
“Flowers are the music of the ground, from earth’s lips spoken without sound.” Edwin Cerran
“A flower blossoms for its own joy.” Oscar Wilde
“I must have flowers, always, always.” Claude Monet
“Where flowers bloom so does hope.” Lady Bird Johnson
“Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time—like to have a friend takes time.” Georgia O’Keeffe
“If we could see the miracle of a flower daily, our whole life would change.” Buddha
Friday, a friend and I took a drive out towards the Carrizo Plain. (The Carrizo Plain National Monument itself was closed). We figured the drive would not show the spectacular color of the 2017 Super Bloom. Heck, we were not even certain we would find any color at all. But we knew the drive—with its hills and vistas, its trees and rock formations—would be beautiful enough.
Besides, it was just nice to get out for a drive along a desolate road through the countryside.
We left Bakersfield, taking Highway 58 heading west toward Carrizo Plain. Initially, there were some purple blooms lining the road.
Eventually other small groups of flowers started to pop up.
We took Soda Lake Road, heading past Soda Lake to Highway 166 and back home. That road—part paved, part not—always has some great vistas. Today the distant hills seemed to have some especially distinctive variations and shadows.
There were a few flowers along the way as well.
That’s Soda Lake in the distance.
This is the little blossom out in the fields–its size is smaller than a dime.
This little butterfly was a lovely surprise!
Heading home we finally saw another car–and we stayed at a safe social distance. We did wave, however!
It was a great day!
A LITTLE NOTE: Today (May 20) would have been my dad’s 100th birthday. Hard to imagine. This pandemic would have been hard on him, even though he was a world-class worrier. He would have enjoyed taking this drive with me as we often took little nature treks together. Of course, I would have had to convince him that such a drive is indeed essential, so okay to take given the safer at home rules.
Dad out on a little adventure.
Mom and Dad together out on a little adventure.
Dad passed in 2014.
I always feel like Dad is with me in spirit on my nature treks!