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.
All I can say at the moment is that April has been a pretty good month for hiking and wildflower watching, but not for blogging. I've taken at least a dozen outings with camera and notebook, but only posted three times. Rather frustrating. Not enough time in a day, not enough Internet bandwidth at home, not enough time to wait for the slow uploading, and too many distractions - the rather scary presidential election campaign not the least of them. I do have a growing archive of photos taken in April, so we'll see what develops here. Exciting short drive yesterday yielded my first spotting of Scarlet Fritillary. Lots of them! Also, lots of Saxifrages blooming on rock walls, Hartweg's Iris blooming through the pine needles, and lots of Red Larkspur along the roadsides. Hopefully, if I'm fresh in the morning, I'll catch up a bit with more photos and reports. My wife got the above shot of me on the top of Monument Peak, looking more or less westward.
I've taken a dozen short photo excursions since my March 26 trip to Table Mountain, but had little time to post the results. Due to my poor Internet connection at home, it took nearly 20 minutes to upload these eight photos. Maybe I can catch up at a local coffee shop tomorrow where the Internet speed is at least an order of magnitude faster. Today's set of photos reminds me of something I read a long time ago in the anthropology literature. In tracing the development of words for colors, researchers have found isolated indigenous cultures that have very few words for colors and these are presumably among the first words humans invented for colors. Predominant are blue, green, yellow and red. This makes sense - sky, water, foliage, and edible fruits, the basics for survival. The above scene is typical of those sections of Table Mountain with rolling hills. The four main colors can be seen here, especially if you click on the photo for a closer view. Ah, the illusion of wilderness.
This next photos, from a distance, looked like the Seep Spring Monkeyflower, but on closer inspection was one of the several local species of yellow violets. I believe it's Viola purpurea.
A variety of this violet started blooming around Quincy a week or so ago, nearly a month behind Table Mountain. I photographed our local variety yesterday, but I'll need to post another 8 or 9 blog entries before I get to it.
Here's another view of Viola purpurea more in context. The whole hillside was wet and muddy, and there were some of the aforementioned Monkeyflowers. Note that the leaves of this violet are well-hidden by the surrounding grasses and leaves of other wildflowers. The leaves are a distinguishing characteristic of the species.
Great expanses of yellow wildflowers like this are iconic Table Mountain scenes. The usual dominant species in such scenes are Golden Carpet and Goldfields.
Here are a couple of views of the Common Fiddleneck, a "cousin" of the Forget-me-nots, Family Boraginaceae.
Then, a strong reminder of the fact that I was not in wilderness. But I did manage to imagine wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions swooping in to dine of the cows.
Finally, a nice little crop of wild onions and Goldfields.
I plan to post at least two more chapters of my Table Mountain experience, then move on to the local photography I've been doing around Quincy. What's most exciting for me is the entrance of various arthropods to the scenes of Spring.