Archive for Nature
When winter turns to spring – or just pretends to – it is to adults like Christmas coming early is to kids. And if we look close enough – where the natural world has been ravaged by winter – we also see where the seasons meet – in the sun’s buttery glow, the blossom’s buoyancy and the wild creature’s resourcefulness.
Wandering through McKinley Park on a fair-weathered, wispy-clouded, wind blustering day, I can almost see our ancestors gathering here as they did (on their only day off) every Sunday 150 years ago. I see two grey and white squirrels stashing nuts and dancing about, and ducks and geese careening elegantly upon the mossy pond. I watch mothers with babes in strollers and fathers pushing their daughters on swings. I see teens playing basketball, people taking pictures, and one man crouching to converse with a chipmunk.
What does it all mean? Nothing, really. Or everything, depending on how you look at it. But I think that’s exactly the point: Just be sure to really look.
For a humble little photographic journey of McKinley Park, which is sandwiched between Midtown and East Sacramento, click on over to the right.
And p.s. If you want to feed the ducks don’t bring bread or other white flour products; they’re starting to affect the birds’ health. Instead, bring seeds and whole grains. Or just sit back and watch them do what they do best.
Just 40 miles from Sacramento, between Winters and Napa, you’ll find more recreational opportunities than you can shake a stick at – as my grandmother used to say – including swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking, hiking, birding, camping, picnicking, etc.
Before it was cemented and filled in 1963 due to state water needs, the geography consisted of “a valley floor covered with family farms whose land titles could be traced to the Homestead Act of 1862.” A gold rush-era town called Monticello was also gravely affected, with its residents (both living and dead) re-located and structures demolished.
Although Berryessa’s water reaches temperatures of up to 75 degrees in the summer making it an ideal place for water sports and laissez-faire floating, there are year-round recreational opportunities. Even the drive to or fro is dotted with beauty and scenic delights, including the Morning Glory Spillway which spouts water when the dam reaches capacity.
But if all of this fair-weathered fun is making you hot under the collar, here’s a chilling piece of trivia: The lake shore was the site of one of the Zodiac Killer murders in September 1969. (…Or, just forget that part and whistle as you wakeboard across the moss-green waters of bouyant Berryessa).
Within minutes you’ll find buildings and subdivisions fading away as you drive toward the foothills, seeing a dotted mix of old factories, nurseries and fruit stands that soon give way to large pastures and farm houses. The drive quiets to a lull as you approach the lowest hills, the foliage bursting open to greet you as you pass the old Sloughouse Inn to Davis Ranch. A working farm and large outdoor market, Davis Ranch is perhaps best known for sweet corn in the summer (The Corn Festival is held in July).
Continuing along Jackson Hwy. you’ll reach the town of Plymouth, which is the main portal to 34-and-counting Sierra Foothill wineries. With excellent red varietals like Sangiovese and Zinfandel – and equally tantalizing views – the area is coined by many to be “The New Napa”. If you’re around in June, stop in for the 2nd Annual Barbera Festival at Cooper’s Ranch. For 360-degree views of the (slightly snow-capped) Sierras, drive a little farther up to Skinner Vineyards and take a picnic – and camera – with you. If you choose to go right at the fork rather than straight, springtime is the time to visit the Amador Flower Farm and Daffodil Hill in charming gold rush-era towns.
You may find that setting out on the open road for a few hours is just enough time to return refreshed and ready for dinner, as well as enjoy that bottle of red that’s perfectly ripe and ready for the un-corking.
[see photos of Skinner and Karmere Wineries to the right]
Wind is whipping around the building like whirlpools of air and tree limbs are knocking against my windows with determination. The sky above us is crystal clear, and although it is nearly 70 degrees outside, my skin is cool to the touch. Sometimes the weather reminds me of a certain season, and then I realize we are actually residing at the opposite end of the year. This time, however, it feels like fall… and it really is.
I don’t always mind the wind, but when it moves as fast as a speeding car, it certainly makes me thankful for my shelter.
And speaking of gratitude, here are just a few ways to give back locally ~
Loaves & Fishes http://www.sacloaves.org
Ronald McDonald House http://www.rmhcnc.org
Crisis Nursery http://www.kidshome.org/what-we-do/CrisisNursery.php
If you can’t offer time, money or resources, at least be compassionate toward animals, kind to your fellow man, and creative about ways in which we can possibly ease future suffering.
(Hm. All this – just because of the darned wind?!)
If April showers bring May flowers, then what do May flowers bring?
FUN, of course~
Announcing the kick-off the 20th season of Friday Night Concerts in the Park.
May 6th and every Friday night, 5-9PM, through August 12.
Cesar Chavez Park, Downtown
ART & WINE AFFAIR
20 area wineries, artists, vendors, live entertainment.
Saturday & Sunday, May 7 & 8, 11-4PM
El Dorado Hills
Disney Fine Art by Collectors Editions presents the Pixar Collection worldwide debut — One Day Only!
Sunday, May 15, 11AM to 4PM
California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento State Historic Park
Delta Eco-Tours – Take a short or long nature and cultural history tour of California’s best and most breathtaking locations along the Sacramento Delta.
Saturday, May 21, 2-hour History & Riparian Cruise
Saturday, May 28, 4-1/2 hour Tule Wilderness Adventure
Delta Ecotours/Hartland Nursery
13737 Grand Island Road (P.O. Box 439), Walnut Grove, CA 95690
(916) 775-4545, http://www.DeltaEcoTours.com
Gold Rush Legacy Tours and Old Sacramento Architectural Tours begin in May and go all summer long.
Saturdays & Sundays at 11AM
And for more ongoing, engaging and special events check out http://www.Sacramento365.com!
We’ve been living in a loft for two months now. While that’s probably not enough time to call myself an expert on loft living, it’s already apparent to me how markedly different living in a loft is compared to being in a single-family dwelling – at street level – in a residential neighborhood.
During the day here, the streets are alive with people walking in and out of businesses, dogs barking from cars, and occasional speeding sirens. One thing I find curious is that people seldom look up. Nighttime brings both a calm and chaos, depending on what day of the week it is.
When I sit on my bed daydreaming, with a bird’s-eye view of all the rooftops, it reminds me of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and ‘Mary Poppins’, and provokes visions of old London. Since I’ve never been there, I wonder why it feels so familiar… Have I have been here before – “here” being so elevated from the rest of civilization? Or are those movies just so archetypal that they tap into something much larger than me?
This same window – the one I peer out of from my bedroom – also brings me eye level with a little hummingbird and her cocoon of cotton and feathers. I watch her in a windstorm, glued to her nest, rocking to and fro without an apparent care. I can see the larger birds, too – the blackbirds, pigeons and crows that traverse the sky and hop from rooftop to rooftop – and I feel somehow privileged.
Having no backyard or outdoor space of our own, I would have expected to be more removed from nature here… But I don’t feel that has been the case. In the short time that we’ve been here, I’ve seen the trees outside our windows go from winter bare to budding to blossoming to verdantly green. I’ve had that little red-throated, green-backed hummingbird all but knock on my window asking for food. And I’ve already watched a handful of small to large storms pass us by or come crashing sideways upon us.
The really, really quiet hours between 2 and 4AM provide unusually still time in which I can hear the street light click from red to green to yellow. But before that time, the restaurant and bar beneath us bring plenty of unwanted commotion, especially since the noise often rises to greet us when we’re not up for company.
But that’s the thing about loft living so far – it’s dynamic, the world is ever present around us, and yet there’s still time in the day for us to hear the echoes of our own intimate lives beating within. This is more than a new experience; it is a new perspective altogether.
My chimes are spiraling frantically in the wild wind this morning. I watch the young green leaves outside my window waving enthusiastically to me, and notice they have replaced most of the buttery blossoms I so loved for so brief a time. The sky is glazed with white and gray wisps of moisture, but there is no rain in sight.
The first strong wind of a new season always brings with it turbulent potential, a bit like being on a plane that bounces and rocks just enough to bring you fully to the present moment.
Excitement is by nature a neutral thing – not positive or negative, or both positive and negative. And sometimes this conundrum, the unknown, and the unsettling they bring awaken us just enough to be somewhat suspiciously and playfully on guard.
Let the spring-like energies of Mother Nature enliven you this week, and try a new approach to something.
When I was little, I thought Yosemite the national park and the word ‘Yosemite’ were two entirely different things. Who knew that the little girl who thought ‘Yosemite’ was pronounced “yoes-might” would grow up to be a writer?! I can recall my mom laughing at the way I spelled “weird” in the 4th grade, and yet I won the 8th grade spelling bee. Call it a lack of experience, call it a condundrum, but don’t be surprised when I mispell something else in the future (but don’t be confused either, because I like to make up words as well).
Life is full of surprises… if you let them show themselves.
Years ago, after he offered me my first regular-paying writing job, my editor at the time Ken Mandler asked me to take a drive to Yosemite with him. For the day. ‘Ug’, I thought, ‘What a long way to go for just one day.’ But as it turns out, it was a great trip. I wrote an article about it, got some great photos while we were there, and learned that Ken was selling the papers I had been writing for for the past 2 years.
That particular part wasn’t exactly the best news ever, but I appreciated his respect for me and the manner in which he shared his professional dilemna. Personally, I felt I was close to being ready for a change anyway, so it was rather bittersweet. But I’ll tell you one thing for sure: You never forget news like that when wrapped up in such a magnificent package – or views like that when wrapped up in such a brief but breathtaking encounter.
So since I’m still writing, I’d like to thank Ken for giving me my first opportunity. And even though I lost the regional spelling bee championships to the word ‘scheme’ (tragically, ‘skeme’, in my world), it was because I’d never seen the word before. And sometimes, just one look is all it takes to never again forget.
It is beginning to get light outside, revealing a flawless brilliant-blue sky. There is a cool breeze coming in through the window reminding me of fall… Although it is early for this region and this time of year, and so I have memories of being on the east coast, feeling the crisp morning like a literal new beginning.
Weather affects us but does it help transform us, opening us to subtle new realities where growth and opportunity can nest? The colors, luminosity and melodic movement like waves outside touch me ever so slightly, telling me that something is ever so slightly different… It’s like Mother Nature nudging me and then letting go, winking as she orchestrates a billion other miracles at once. But what’s the message and where are the instructions that go with it?
We all know that a hurricane, tornado or lightning storm can change a landscape (and our perspective) in an instant. But what about the subtler stuff?
“All in due time,” I have a feeling the day will say to me as it heats up and returns, momentarily, to summer.
Photos of Greater Sacramento & Northern California Trees