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Posts tagged ‘Nature’

WIND WOLVES PRESERVE SPRING NATURE FESTIVAL 2023

Yes, I visited Wind Wolves Preserve once again, as I have done frequently over the last several weeks.  Again, on this visit, new varieties of flowers were starting to bloom.

It’s always a good day at Wind Wolves Preserve.

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!

You’ll enjoy it!

JUST DRIVING AROUND

Whenever it was raining when I was a kid—and I complained about getting wet—Dad would say, “Just run between the raindrops!”  That’s what I’ve been doing over the last several weeks as I ran errands. Running between downpours.  Still always looking for the beauty of Nature!

A few flowers are finally popping up around town.

Clouds are always fun to watch.

One day, a Clowder of Cats caught my eye.

This clowder of cats lives in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant. There seemed to be about 10 of them, but only a handful ventured out to explore. There is one big cardboard box in a field behind a fence that seems to be their home base.  I am hoping someone at the restaurant is taking care of these kitties, especially during these cold wet nights. They do not seem under fed—and are so cute!

“Cats come and go without ever leaving.” Martha Curtis

“Time spent with cats is never wasted.”  Sigmund Freud

“If cats could talk, they wouldn’t.”  Nan Porter

“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have never forgotten this.” Terry Pratchet

This biggest one seems to be Mama.  She wandered by a few times, very slow and nonchalant.

This one was mostly staying behind the fence with several who never ventured out at all.

This little grey tabby was the most curious.

These two—Yin and Yang—were almost always together.

On another day, I took a Selfie, as I arrived for my tax preparation appointment. (I’m in the car!)

It was good news overall (getting back about $250, combining federal and state totals as well as tax prep fees).  I had to celebrate since Krispy Kreme was just a few blocks away. [Isn’t it against the law—or at least un-American—to not buy donuts if you drive right by a Krispy Kreme?]

The clouds that day were gorgeous, even when it rained off and on. 

When the sun did peek out, a full rainbow came into view.

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you have to deal with the rain.” attributed to Dolly Parton

“Rainbows have a way of making the world seem right.” Anthony T. Hincks

A friend (thanks BLR!) has a phone with fancy editing options—so she took the ugly buildings out of this photo. 

The day ended with the rainbow anchored right over my apartment complex.

“Maybe you should stop looking for the gold and just appreciate the rainbow.” Unknown.

HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY!

Still Patiently Waiting for (More) Spring Wildflowers

California has been in a state of drought for years.  Therefore, the extensive storm fronts and atmospheric rivers that have bombarded the state lately with rain and snow and floods and mud slides have been mostly welcomed.  Collectively, the state is even hoping for a good wildflower season, maybe even a Super Bloom.  Some wildflowers have been spotted up and down the state, but nothing massive is in sight.  Yet.

“And sure enough, even waiting will end. . . if you can wait long enough.” William Faulkner

I’m getting so impatient.

While waiting, I have been visiting Wind Wolves Preserve, a great place only about a 45-minute drive from me.  My first visit this year was in late February.  While the hills were green, the grasses were not filled out yet, and the only color was a little yellow from a few early blossoms. Even without lots of color, it is always a great respite to be out there!

Since that first visit, I have been back on several days, noticing more and more color spreading across the fields.  Snow even became visible on the distant mountains.  Obviously, Spring is coming—and changes in the fields at Wind Wolves Preserve over a couple visits document its arrival. 

18 February 2023

“One of the most delightful things about a garden (or a preserve) is the anticipation it provides.”  W. E. John

“Adopt the pace of Nature. Her secret is patience.”  Emerson

“Only with winter-patience can we bring deep-desired, long-awaited Spring.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh

4 March 2023

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait—it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” Joyce Meyer

“Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade,” Charles Dickens

“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of Nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”  Rachel Carson

9 March 2023 Driving to the Preserve

9 March 2023 At the Preserve

It was great to see the fiddleneck (yellow) and blue dick (I think) take over the fields. But on this most recent trip, some new flowers were bursting forth as well: Grape Soda Lupine, Douglass Milk Vetch, and one lone Red Clover bloom. I am eager to wander back to Wind Wolves Preserve in a few days!

“I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of Nature.”  Pablo Coehlo

“You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming,”  Pablo Neruda

AN AFTERNOON OF CONTRASTS

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.  

AN INVITATION: If You’ve Ever Experienced Loss, This Event Is for You

YOU ARE INVITED to the First Zoom Event hosted by The Grief and Happiness Alliance Nonprofit

“Searching for Light: Finding Balance during the Equinox”

March 20, 2020, 12 pm PST

You can register here for free.

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.

THE EVENT:

“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!

Early Fall in Yosemite

I love Yosemite National Park.

One of my favorite places to marvel at the wonders of Nature is Yosemite National Park. I always figure Spring is the best time to visit. But fall colors there can be glorious as well. Really any time of year will do. 

Given how crazy these last two years have been, I was anxious to visit Yosemite. I really needed a drive through Nature.  I thought about making the trip in mid-July, but the weather was just so hot and dry that my trip was postponed.  Wandering in 110-degree weather just did not seem like a good idea!

Fall finally arrived and my visit to Yosemite became a reality. I took off late in September, just after the autumnal equinox. The drive was wonderful, wandering through the granite vistas, open fields, and stands of trees just lifted my spirits. Glimpses of water—whether the river through the valley or the lakes along Tioga Road—just added to the feelings of peace and solitude. 

I always marvel at Tunnel View.

Even though the fields within Yosemite Valley were mostly brown, a few wildflowers popped up along the roads, demanding attention.

I do love trees!

The falls were not very full this time of year, but the Merced River was still lovely as it wandered along, offering a nice respite for some moments of solace and appreciation. 

The granite hills and stately trees of Tioga Road (Highway 120) always intrigue.  This is one of my favorite drives! From up close rocks at Olsmstead Point or the expansiveness of Touloumne Meadows, it is hard not to marvel at the grandeur of Nature or not to welcome its solace and solitude..

The vistas let you see for miles.

At the higher elevations, small spots of gold were starting to signal that fall would soon descend on Yosemite. 

A Little Jaunt to Monterey

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.

The Beauty of Flowers

“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 on the Carrizo Plain

I just love when clouds produce shadows!

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!

NATURE IS ESSENTIAL

“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”  David Attenborough

It has been a long spring, made worse by this COVID-19 pandemic and the decisions telling all of us to stay home to stay safe.  We are frequently reminded that we should only be venturing out for what is essential.  Of course, for most, “essential” tasks revolve around obtaining food, water, medications and healthcare.  But for me, what is truly essential includes much more than these basics!

What exactly does essential mean? According to The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, something is essential if it is “of utmost importance, basic, indispensable, necessary.”  Some obvious synonyms would be fundamental, cardinal, vital.  Anything that is essential has a sense of urgency and importance.  It is the key thing that keeps one going.

FOR ME, NATURE IS ESSENTIAL. 

Trips into Nature keep me going, make me feel calm and grounded, link me to the miracle of life that is all around. With this long pandemic-shrouded spring, I really needed a trip into Nature.  My plan was to spend the day driving the back roads in and around the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster.  But just before I was set to leave, I saw a news item that said the roads were barricaded to keep people out.  Drats.

My guess is that hordes of people may have descended on the area over the weekend, trampling the fields, crowding the roads, and otherwise ignoring social distancing. After all, it was the first good-weather weekend since this ordeal began.  Or it could just be a random edict.  Either way, my plans were being undermined—and that would not do.

I NEEDED A TRIP INTO NATURE.

My new plan was simpler, just drive to Gorman at the Grapevine and wander the Gorman Postal Road.  If flowers are in bloom in the area, they are usually there too.  It was a glorious afternoon.

California Poppy

“The earth laughs in flowers.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Spring is Nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s Party!’”  Robin Williams

Lupine, One of My Favorites!

“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon the verdant green hills is the most perfect refreshment.”  Jane Austen

“An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment.”  David Attenborough

Great Valley Phacelia

“Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.”  David Suzuki

“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”  John Muir

“On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.”  Jules Renard

“I go to Nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”  John Burroughs

“When one tugs at a single thing in Nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”  John Muir

This little guy did not cooperate at all for photos.  The butterflies in the area never even paused anywhere!

“Nature is not a place to visit.  It is home.”  Gary Snyder

“The happiest man is he who has learned from Nature the lesson of worship.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Kern Tarweed (maybe)

“They are much to be pitied who have not been given a taste for Nature early in life.”  Jane Austen

I always love it when there is a nice spring breeze wandering the hills as well.  (Sorry I forgot to turn off the radio.  At least I am not singing along!)

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