After a slow first five months, I'm back to blogging in earnest. In the forthcoming few months I plan to keep on tracking the blooming of wildflowers, the activities of bugs and reptiles and any other critters I'm quick enough or lucky enough to photograph, and to comment on ecological relationships. Since there is an increasing sense of ecological crisis among many people and more vigorous denial of such on the part of others, I will inevitably comment on the social and political dimensions of survival as I see them.
I am still an adjunct instructor in the English Department at Feather River College, but time permitting, I am available for hire as a nature guide in the region in and around Plumas County. A brochure describing my usual kinds of natural history adventures is in development. Email me c/o firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address and a statement of interests, and I'll send you a rough draft.
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.
Another glance at Lassen Peak before heading south toward Quincy, and again I reminisced on the many times I've made the hike to the top experiencing all kinds of weather and meeting interesting people from 8 to 80. One time while hiking with high school students we suddenly had an electrical feeling not unlike that from rubbing a balloon on one's skin. There was a northwest wind and we had the feeling something scary was going to happen, so we headed down the trail as quickly as possible without risking life and limb. The feeling increased and we all felt our hair stand up. Just as we got to our van we saw the first lightening bolts strike the peak. Not a cloud in the sky. Like today.
As I approached Canyon Dam, I began to see the great Sugar Pines that one sees for a couple of miles along Highway 89 in that area. To someone who grew up back East, Sugar Pine Cones never lose their appeal. We have a dozen or so around the house, and it never fails that when we have a guest from the East Coast, we have to give one or more away.
The pattern of branches near the tops of Sugar Pines is fascinating, too. Sometimes the longest branches are near the top, that spread out look contradicting the stereotypical taper toward the top of the trees we used to draw in elementary school. Sometimes it's easy to identify Sugar Pine from a mile or more away.
The one in the center of this photo might have been trimmed by a lightning strike. The trunk looks thick right up to the top where it probably broke off.
From the same spot, in anther direction, I spied an Incense Cedar with some impressive clusters of Mistletoe near the top.
This relatively young Sugar Pine was particularly dense with cones. Maybe next fall this will be a good place to add to our collection of gifts for our East Coast visitors.
As I approached the Greenville Y, I shifted my attention to things on the ground. First, I tipped over pieces of bark hoping to find bugs, but it was still a bit chilly. I did find this beautiful pattern of Slime Mold.
A large rock that I check nearly every time I pass by this spot is already sporting a nice early crop of mosses and lichens.
The moss in the center of this shot shows the sporophyte and gametophyte generations of the moss and a nice patch of lichen to the left.
Another attractive lichen. Click on this to see more detail.
An impressive demonstration of microclimates was here on this talus slope. The air temperature was probably in the 40s, but the larger pieces of basalt were well over 100 degrees, hot to the touch. Bugs will be rising to these warm places soon and the lizards and salamanders will not be far behind.