...an unpaid sabbatical. Just call it a break. I've fallen well short of my original goals for this blog and am too busy to continue at this time. Thanks for the comments and feedback people have given me by email and other means. I will continue to find solace in nature walks, with or without camera and notebook, but I will take at least a two-month break from posting here.
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.
The dry ground and lack of snow pack are evidence enough, but this is the time of year I get enthusiastic about photographing wildflowers. There's evidence there, too. Usually the first of our milkweeds to bloom is the Purple, or Heart-leaf Milkweed, Asclepias cordifolia (above), and, sure enough, it has made an appearance. However, in normal springs - if that phrase still has any meaning - the stem would get two to three feet tall and be adorned with rather large leaves in opposite pairs before any signs of leave buds appear. This year, in my favorite spot for observing them, there are not only far fewer specimens, but the ones that have appeared are showing dense clusters of flower buds while only 4- to 6"-inches tall. It's snowing as I type this, so hopefully we'll get enough moisture in the coming days to allow these dwarfed plants to complete their annual cycles.
The Showy Phlox, Phlox speciosa, have also begun to flower, but their stems and leaves are far leaner looking than in "normal" years. There are fewer of them blooming, and they are looking skinny. We'll see what happens. It's possible this week's rains will cause a lot more of them to germinate and catch up.