Nearly a month has gone by without any new posts, despite my recent statements about blogging in earnest. I'm finding that teaching writing classes not only involves lots of time grading papers but also focuses my interest on writing. I'm actually writing a lot in various journals and notebooks, but not focusing in the short run on material I want to post here. We'll see what develops. Let's just say, my cessation of blogging is not due to deterioration of my health. I might be back soon. It probably depends on how spring unfolds - wildflowers, lizards, interesting insects, etc., usually fire me up and prompt me to keep my camera batteries charged.
I have been teaching since 1965 and have recently joined the English Department as an Associate Faculty member at Feather River College. Recently taught Nature Literature in America and am currently teaching Interpersonal Communication and Basic Reading and Writing.
Not only is the Henbit Dead Nettle a beautiful flower, but it is clever enough to stay below the blades of the weed eaters and mowers. Much like the response of many grasses to grazing animals, if the blades do cut off the flowering tops, it quickly blooms claser to the ground. They'll be beautifying the roadside well into summer.
Another low-flowering beauty on our roadsides is th Filaree, AKA Stork's Bill.
I've forgotten the name of this tiny white one, but up cloase it reminds me of Meadow Foam. Will post an ID as soon as I rediscover it.
I hope I can find this exact spot again today because the Henbit will have bloomed next to the little white one. Should make for a good photo.
FRC buys lots of ball-point pens for advertising purposes. I wonder how many visitors saw this one.
I made a stop at the junction of Hwy 70 and the road to Butterfly Valley hoping to see the first shoots of Umbrella Plant (formerly known as Indian Rhubarb) and maybe some Milkmaids. None yet, but I did get fascinated by the willow buds, especially when I found this pair of bugs courting.
I'm not sure if these bugs are going after just the pollen, but this photo make it look like they're going after the entire flowers. I didn't have time to stay for closer observation, but found the scene photogenic. I'll be checking this spot often after the anticipated rains this weekend.
The hated thistles are among the most beautiful weeds. Their peak season for blooming comes after most of the spring wildflowers have gone to seed, so this spot provides interesting photography opportunities well into the summer.
Our Sunday adventure on old logging roads in the Southpark area got my spring wildflower energy going. I then drove to the Old Keddie Highway to see what I hoped would help me forecast what I'd see down the Feather River Canyon in another day or two. I didn't see Shooting Star where I expected, and the first notable photo op was this patch of fungi about ten feet above the road. I-net speed very poor right now, so I'll try again later to add a few more photos from that loop. Then, it was onward to Golden Eagle Avenue.
I've been seeing a few blooming Shelton's violets here and there but hundreds of leaves emerging. In another week or so there should be carpets of this species blooming. Today I'll check the college nature trail for them.
I haven't identified this fungus on Old Keddie Highway, but it seems like Flapjack Fungus would be a good name.
A few leaves of Phacelia have emerged on the roadside cliffs near the entrance to the Keddie Cascades Trail. Should be quite a show as spring progresses.
My favorite at these same cliffs is Sedum. Some early leaves of Larkspur are showing up on the grassy slopes above the cliffs.
While on an April Fool's Day hike in the South Park area north of Chandler Road, I had a flashback of the kind of view that got me excited about hiking up mountains when I was a teenager. Click on this first photo for a closer view of my pickup which we could first see after hiking a mile or so. When I add a little imagination, I can still see the White Mountains of New Hampshire where my younger brother and I loved hiking through dense forest and every once in a while getting a new, distant view of where we parked our car. I've enjoyed that sensation many times since while hiking the trail to the top of Lassen Peak. Every few switchbacks provide a new, distant view of where we came from. I get a similar feeling when hiking or driving to the top of nearby Mt. Hough where the town I live in looks more and more like a airplane view and the people look like ants and the cars look like toys. Back in 1981 I published a two-part essay called "The View from the Top" based on "scaling" Mt. Hough both ways.
I brought my camera on yesterday's hike in case I found my first photogenic wildflowers of the season. And I did. However, on these wildflower hikes, I'm constantly looking every which way for anything that I might find interesting, such as the ants in the above photo. Besides the ants, we also saw lots of baby fence lizards, but they were too fast for me to get a good photo. Plus, it was getting too hot for me to have Ansel Adams' patience. We hiked onward, still looking sideways.
Then I started finding patches of leaves that forecast the next wave of wildflowers. These lupine leaves were among at least a dozen species of flowers that should be blooming in the next few weeks in this area. They also whetted the appetite for my first photo trip of the season down Feather River Canyon where some of them might already be blooming. Thinking Wednesday so I can beat the next rainstorm that's been forecast. Destinations - Caribou Road, Bear Creek Falls, and points between. This year's first major test of my peripheral vision.
I got that exciting feeling back, looking for spring wildflowers. Three locations during a warm, sunny afternoon. The first three wildflowers I found were in the Southpark Trail system above Chandler Road. Above is the Spring Whitlow Grass, all of 1/4" in diameter. Below are two views of Henderson's Shooting Star.
Finally, Shelton's Violet. After hiking in this area for about an hour, I drove down the Old Keddie Highway, then on the Golden Eagle Avenue, the main road leading into Feather River College. Too 54 photos altogether, and I'll be posting more tomorrow along with anticipated hikes for the remainder of the week.
On a cloudy Sunday morning, I am multi-tasking. Snow in my front yard, but just a few hundred yards away, the Crocuses are blooming in front of Patti's Thunder Cafe - formerly known as Morning Thunder. Back at home now, I am writing about John Muir for my summer class Nature Literature in America. The topic at hand is the transition in Americans' views of nature at influenced by Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Aldo Leopold. The transitions represented by these three amazing writer/philosophers stretch my mind anew every time I read them. I feel especially fortunate that I can still energetically wander in the woods and couple my reading with close contact with "wild" nature. I can experience the transition from winter to spring by simply walking down the hill from my wintery house to the harbingers of spring at Patti's. Not nearly as dramatic, and certainly not as daring, as Muir's scrambling over a range of 4,000 feet in elevation in a single day, nor my own round-trip hike to the bottom of Grand Canyon and back in a single day, yet sufficient to stir memories and provoke philosophical meanderings.
The Crocuses will be open by this afternoon, the forecast for which is Sunny. The daffodils,
however, will bloom later, maybe after the rains expected later this week. I'm experiencing my physical and mental wanderings in a linear fashion, but am frequently reminded that what is really going on is cyclical. It is also political. I am hopeful that the current political winter we (or I) are experiencing will turn into Spring.