Saturday, January 26, 2019

Nature Study Outing :: A Bit of Rain in NorCal

From May through October, we have golden hills here in California -- which is a more poetic way of saying that everything is brown and dry. It doesn't rain for months and the landscape reflects that. There are still sights to enjoy, of course, if you have "eyes to see," and that is prime time for coastal beauty. But it's a long summer.

So we always welcome the rainy season with joy not just because the land needs it but because everything turns green again! Winter is really the start of our long spring, and it is such a beautiful time in the Bay Area.

It is amazing what a little rain can do to our favorite spots.

We enjoyed some fungi hunting last week. Lots of stem mushrooms and lichen, but the stars of the show were earth stars aplenty and witch's butter!

We also found this broken (half-formed?) cocoon on the inside surface of a big piece of live oak bark. Inside was a odd creature, half fuzzy caterpillar and half moth. It seemed to be dead or dormant. We had been reading in Headstrom's The Living Year about where you can find insects in the winter months, so this provided a curious example!

And I have to share one of our most unexpected finds from the past month: the remains of a deer. We have often found bones, but this was more...

There were vertebrae, hipbones, a jawbone with teeth, and two legs, all scattered about. One hoof was normal, but the other had this shovel-like protrusion, which from my reading, seems to be called foundering.

It certainly made its way into my journal.

We have daffodil buds, the first blossoms of the year, a refilled vernal pond, and baby leaves everywhere: vetch, lupine, filaree, sorrel. The fields will be bursting into bloom soon. Happy Spring!


  1. What interesting finds! I had wondered about those "golden hills" a couple of years ago when we took a trip from our home state of CO to see the redwoods ... I was surprised that everything was already so brown the first week of June, but I guess that is normal for you! That's our greenest time of year here on the front range. Those golden hills were sure beautiful though. Made me feel like I was in Africa or something on the savannah!

    1. Yes, we kind of have opposite seasons from other places in the country: winter is green and summer is brown. :) It is one of those characteristic CA things! I would miss the golden hills if I moved away. :)