Our last couple nature outings have been taken over by the wildflowers. And it's no wonder: we're having so much fun spotting our "old friends" again, whom we haven't seen since last spring.
We're making careful notes in our Calendar of Firsts--we're on our fourth year of data and it's getting really interesting to compare year by year. Each season adds a new layer to our understanding of the changes in this area. People always say that here in California, we don't have seasons. But as a native Californian, I know we do. We just have to be a bit more attentive! Careful keeping of our Calendar of Firsts and nature journals help us to do that.
Like I said before, February starts "green season" here in California--that means early leafers and first wildflowers. Here is a bit of a mish-mash of some favorite finds from the past couple weeks...
Plenty of vetch leaves cover the ground, but no blossoms yet. This is one of my favorites, so I'm waiting eagerly for them to pop up!
Mustard and fiddlenecks are responsible for all the yellow around here.
Henbit, aka Giraffe head. (The perfect name for this guy, right?)
Sweet shepherd's purse with its heart-shaped leaves is always up by Valentine's Day here.
Wild cucumber leaves, blossoms, tendrils, and immature seed balls. It loves to intertwine with the very-plentiful poison oak around here, so we have to beware.
It's not as common now for us to find one we're not familiar with, so it's always a real treat when we do. This one I had never seen before. It's called Persian Speedwell, which somehow sounds like a Bond girl to me? Ha. The tiny striped blooms are a pretty shade of blue.
This next one is blurry, but I couldn't leave out the other new flower we found: purple nightshade. Cate said the middles (with their banana-like stamens and prominent pistil) look like pumpkins. I agree! There were two lone clumps of this, and I haven't seen it anywhere else nearby.
The wisteria--not a wildflower but beautiful all the same. We always catch it when it's already in bloom, so I hadn't seen how the flowers are partially enclosed in a kind of casing and then unfurl. The shapes and textures in this stage are so interesting.
When we get home from an outing like this, I prepare a nature tray for our journaling session. The kids love to help me label it. Here's ours from last week...
You can see a couple of the early leafers there on the tray: the willows that line our pond have both new leaves and small catkins, and the California sycamores have tiny velvet leaves and seed balls that hang in a line (which, I believe, distinguishes it from the American sycamore).
|my willow sprig sketched and ready for painting|
And it's not all journals and wildflowers! There's lots of romping, building, climbing, and more going on when we get together...
|not all the kids, but a good bunch of them!|
I'm desperate to take the kids to some spots on my running trail because I noticed last weekend that the first lupines and vetch are in bloom, and I've heard there are shooting stars just around the bend of my usual route. I'm thinking that's where we'll head next week!