Posts Tagged ‘wildflowers’

Memorial Day

23 May 2020

Memorial Day came early this year. That’s because now it officially falls on a Monday – the one closest to the end of May (that’s in May). Otherwise, we would have had to wait until June first.

Freedom

Downtown the conservatives were having a freedom rally.

Though Memorial Day is about war dead (originally, the Civil War), we have a current pressing concern about freedom. So a bunch of folks brought out their flags and came down to the Capitol to hear speeches and so forth.

I was not there long. I was listening to a Hispanic guy talk about how his people don’t want to be on the public dole, but would rather work and make a good living. He was talking about how most of his people are Christians. He was talking about how valuable freedom is to his people. This, of course, is not unique to Hispanics.

memorial day rally

In the old days, they used to call it “Liberty.” But whatever you call it, the real point is that one can use one’s freedom of will or freedom to act to enrich oneself at the expense of others or for the benefit of others. It was the “liberty” taken by the colonizer of North America that lead to the colonists desiring their own “liberty.” We know (more or less) what happened to the native Americans and to the imported Africans as we as a “free” people pursued our own sense of what “liberty” meant to us.

It sometimes must be pointed out that happiness usually arises from a good balance of freedoms and barriers. If, back then, there had been more barriers in place against the killing of native Americans or the enslavement of Africans we might be in a happier condition today.

However, governments and other institutions charged with managing people tend to err on the side of barriers. And so we have the current situation. (It should be noted that there was never any real medical consensus that the steps recommended by the CDC or the WHO were the best steps to take in this situation. It was a political choice made about 15 years ago.)

The barriers begin to fall

Nonetheless, a new consensus is arising – after three months of “shelter in place” – that it is time to start opening things back up. And so this Saturday, I saw a LOT of people rafting on the river.

rafting on the American river

And then I saw even more people rafting on the river!

even more river rafters

I also saw people sitting outside restaurants at tables eating, and even going into some restaurants. And I saw signs announcing re-openings.

However, for this pool at Sac State to be usable by people again, there’s going to be some real cleanup needed!

More flowers

a garden-quality mullein (verbascum)

The floral scene continues to alter weekly as we move closer to Summer. The above flower was on the Folsom trail I use to get to the river. It is a mullein (verbascum) – a variety I have never seen before.

everlastings

These flowers are known as everlastings. They dry very well, and are often seen in flower arrangements dyed different colors. This plant is the only one I have ever seen in the park.

wild grapes in flower

Grape flowers have basically no petals. These are wild grapes and grow as a weed throughout this area. The grapes they produce are small but sweet.

mock orange bush in flower

I have never seen this mock orange in flower. I had a similar bush outside my window in Seattle. It is very showy right now.

St. John's wort

I thought I should take a photo of a St. John’s wort. It is widely known as a medicinal plant and is also very much in bloom in the park. The plant has some unusual characteristics, such as numerous small translucent dots in the leaves, and an odd serrated edge on the flower petals. I caught a bee in this shot as a bonus.

Dry hills

Across the river in the Folsom area, is a south-facing hillside. It has already been baked brown by the hot sun. This is a very typical scene in many places in California that aren’t directly on the coast.

It could be that these hills were once more verdant. Many of these places have been grazed for quite a long time. But I suspect hills that look like this have been the norm in inland California for hundreds of years. One looks at a slope like this with Permaculture in mind, and tends to think, “Wow, could that land use some swales!” Such land is at constant risk of catching on fire, and my understanding is that the natives used to set fires on purpose to control the dry underbrush.

Signs of the Times

16 May 2020
state parks flatten curve sign

…being a collection of images of local signage, mostly recently posted….

Older Signs

I think the first time I got an idea that I should take pictures of signs was the first time I saw this one in Folsom. It’s cute, sort of witty, right?

attentions dogs!

This next one is everywhere on the bike paths. I thought I should include it because of how confusing it could be if you didn’t know the context. Some people don’t know why this should be done and/or don’t do it.

walk left, ride right

And please limit your bicycling speed to 15 MPH! If I could go that fast, I could get home in less than an hour and a half. It usually takes me close to 3 hours. I figure I ride at about 6 MPH. The “racers” maybe go 10.

bikes stay below 15 MPH!

COVID-19

“Social distancing” (whatever that is) was one of the earliest concepts introducing into the pandemic “handling.” (Sorry about the quotes, but several sources including my gut call BS on a lot of this stuff.)

social distancing (winco)

Instruction signs were also posted along the bike path, but I haven’t seen them recently. Here’s another one in town:

keep US safe

Later on, WinCo put this one up…

leave your bags in the car

…then stopped charging for plastic bags. Here we have a huge plastic conservation initiative defeated by a microscopic RNA fragment!

And worse than that, the playgrounds are closed. This breaks my heart.

closed playground

I don’t know how the kids can stand these limitations on their movement.

I know a lot of them are learning how to ride bikes.

shelter in pace virtual run

I’m not sure what a “virtual run” is, but I guess these guys have it all figured out.

Closed restaurants

restaurant open for take-out

There are lots of signs like this around town. This restaurant is a very upscale place (across from the light rail station near downtown) so the sign had to look good.

There are roughly 1,400 restaurants in and around Sacramento (California Restaurant Association figure). The street I return on (L Street) is full of them. A cluster of rather chic ones occupies the ‘teens streets area.

thank you for supporting local businesses

Heroes

Suddenly health care workers are “heroes.” Are they getting hazard pay?

Heroes work here - Sutter

This sign is at the Sutter Health center. Sutter is a not-for-profit health care company that operates numerous hospitals.

health care heroes and home for sale

Kaiser gets to toot its own horn, I guess. It is the biggest health care provider of its type in the country. The Plan is strictly non-profit, but doctors can form for-profit groups within the structure.

Though I included a “home for sale” sign, the housing market does not seem to be particularly involved with what is going on right now.

Enjoying the early summer

party at a park - with social distancing

People who want to have an outing in the park usually try to pay their respects to the current restrictions.

people rafting on the American River

Rafters? Maybe not so much.

Medicine

At this time, perhaps more than ever before, the world of medicine has intersected with the world of public life. The result has been – from my viewpoint – a disaster.

learn pharmacy ad on train

The world of medicine is attached at the hip to the world of pharmacy. This is not because drugs have been found to be the best way to treat illnesses. But they are certainly the most simple-minded way to treat illnesses. So everyone agrees. And pharmacy has become big business.

Birds and Flowers

What would my weekly post be without some bird and flower photos?

brodiaea

This flower looks a lot like the ones I identified as allium (wild onion) earlier, but this new one is brodiaea.

asters

These asters appeared “out of nowhere.” Flowers really change a plant’s character and visual impact.

bluebird feeding young

The bluebird is now busy feeding its young. I can hear them tweeting inside their box whenever more food arrives.

And the geese at Hagan Community Park have been very productive this year!

Geese with many goslings

Happy Mothers Day

13 May 2020
Happy Mothers' Day sign

I was supposed to post this on Sunday, but got busy with other things.

After I got off the train to go to Winco, one of the first things I ran across was this outdoor “celebration” of the holiday.

Jesus Culture event

This event, in which people could drive in and get a bouquet for Mom, was being put on by Jesus Culture Sacramento. It turns out that this group came out of the Bethel Church in Redding, which we were involved with when we helped with wildfire relief efforts in 2018.

Bethel Church appeals to well-educated higher-income people who want to be Christians, but in a more modern way than how this faith is offered and presented in more traditional churches. They utilize the power of prayer (and group postulates, as we might call them) and believe in playing a leadership role in society. They train their people to be professionals.

Flowers for Mom

All the rest of this post is flower pictures. I usually take both a longer shot and a closeup of most plants I photograph, and have included the longer shots here (when I took them), though the closeups are definitely the bigger eye-catchers.

pea flower

On the trail from Winco to the park, there is a little stand of pea plants. Their flowers are very showy, though these have been out long enough to start fading. I usually don’t bother to photograph them because they aren’t wild plants.

clarkias

Here is another example of plants I don’t see in the park. However, these flowers are very common in California. They are related to fireweed which is a very common wildflower in many places. They are called “clarkias.”

clarkia flowers

Blackberries are common everywhere. This particular bush is one of several that are eagerly harvested when the berries ripen. In the park these berries tend to be ignored.

blackberry flowers

These are in the Rose Family just in case the thorns and flower shape look a bit familiar. The Rose Family also includes a lot of fruit trees.

The most obvious flowers in the park are the buckeyes (California horse chestnut).

buckeye tree in ful flower

These are now in full, full bloom. The weather this year was just right for this, so now they are putting on a real show.

buckeye flower spike

New members of the aster family also keep appearing. This family is so numerous with so many similar-looking plants that it is hard to know exactly what genus some of these plants belong to.

new yellow asters

While the new asters dominate the foreground in this shot, just behind them are a bunch of monkey flowers (covered earlier) that are still blooming quite profusely and have been for some time.

yellow aster flowers

At the aquatic center they have taken pains (apparently) to bring in some native plants that would otherwise not be seen very often any more. One of these now in bloom is the tree poppy. These are huge bushes with very big white flowers.

tree poppy bush

I have been by here many many times and don’t remember seeing these before, so these flowers must not last very long.

tree poppy flowers

I hope you all had a good weekend, and wish I could share these sights with more of you in person.

Flower Show

19 April 2020

Flowers continue to dominate the American River Parkway bike trail experience.

The buckeyes are now starting to bloom.

buckeye

If you are familiar with horse chestnuts and these flowers look familiar to you, it’s because they are very closely-related plants. They are also in the same family as maple trees.

Lupine is huge in the upper part of the parkway right now. I’m not sure why the lower part (nearer Sacramento) is so different.

lupine

Behind this field of lupine are the ever-present California poppies.

The above is a zoom shot, and at first I thought the gold-colored flowers in back might be hawkweed. But that grows mostly in small patches close to the trail.

hawkweed

Not to be confused with dandelions, a close relative that grows in moister locations, like lawns.

dandelions

Vetch is in full bloom now, and is widely seen along the length of the trail.

vetch with more poppies

More poppies – just can’t get away from them! Notice how these vetch flowers whiten in their lower parts after being out for a while. This is apparently a natural variation, but may have to do with sunlight, as flowers I saw that were more shaded didn’t have this much white.

The thistles are just starting to flower. They will likely continue into the summer. Most plants in the Aster family, particularly native varieties, are quite hardy and tend to continue flowering for some time.

blue thistle

Further down the trail, cow parsnip starts to make an appearance, along with some other wild umbellifers like wild fennel (or anise).

cow parsnip

These are related to carrots, celery and parsley.

The elderberries are just beginning to flower. These are probably the “blue” variety that can be batter-fried and eaten.

elderberry

There is a “red” variety that is too toxic to eat safely.

This manroot, featured in the photos from my last trip, was climbing up on the elderberry bushes, so easy to photograph.

manroot

I will end this little flower show with a full shot of a single lupine. These are supposedly native in this area, but I’ve never seen so many growing together as I’ve seen on the upper part of this trail near Folsom.

lupine

April’s Fools

4 April 2020
people at the light rail stop Friday morning

In anticipation of more rain today (Saturday) I (again) went out to do my grocery shopping in Folsom on Friday. Just a few people needing transport hung around the light rail station – about normal for non-rush times on this line.

empty light rail car

By the time we got to Folsom, everyone else had debarked.

bridge on trail with bikers

I very seldom take shots of the general area that the bike trail goes through. This is a foot bridge across an inlet on the little lake used for boat racing by university student athletes. As you can see, there are plenty of people out on bikes.

further down the river trail

Further down the trail there are both walkers and bikers.

more people on the trail

And on this very picturesque section of the trail much closer to town, still more walkers and bikers.

More Flowers

fiddlenecks

I got a nice clear photo of the fiddlenecks.

vetch

And another of some vetch. There is a lot of this along the trail; most of it will bloom out a little later.

collinsias

And I couldn’t resist taking more pictures of the little hill full of Collinsias. These are also interspersed with Lupine.

Then down at the Aquatic Park I decided to take a closer look at the tree I’d seen last week full of big yellow flowers. I have been unable to identify this tree. Obviously it has a horticultural source, as this is the only specimen I have ever seen.

unidentified tree with big yellow flowers

California poppies continue to proliferate, particularly on sun-baked slopes.

California poppies along the river

Flowering dogwood is a familiar site in other climates this time of year, but it thrives only in gardens here in Sacramento.

flowering dogwood in town

These streets were full of these small trees, and they were full of flowers. Quite a display! This was taken by the way in the “40’s” neighborhood, streets 40 through 49. It’s a very nice part of town.

Animals in motion

A swallowtail posed patiently for me, but my camera refused to focus on its black body. The image below is cropped out of a wider shot.

swallowtail butterfly

The turkeys were chasing a hen, but I was moving a little when I snapped this, if they weren’t.

male turkeys chasing a hen

Pandemic News

The Germans got their testing started early, with almost 100,000 confirmed cases at this point, and 1,500 deaths. That would be a fatality rate of about 1.5%, but doctors there think that number will rise. According to reports I’ve seen, ordinary flu kills at about 1/10th of that rate.

My friend Patrick who was visiting Malaysia and afraid of getting stuck there managed to get on the next-to-the-last plane from Malaysia to Japan. He likes Japan and trusts that country to handle the pandemic brightly.

He recommended “Last Plane Out” as the theme song for his adventure and possibly this whole episode of history. It was written by Kevin Gilbert (a short-lived professional musician born in Sacramento in 1966) and recorded by his band Toy Matinee, getting some airplay around 1990.

Changes

16 February 2020

Springtime is a period when things change a little faster than normal. If you don’t pay attention, those changes might whiz on by unnoticed and uninspected.

Flowers

But most of us at least notice the flowers. Last week the flowering trees were just beginning to pop. This week they are all over the place.

Corporate flowering trees in Folsom last week.
Flowering tree on the bike path this week.

The slightly unusual greenery that always greets me at the beginning of my ride back to Sacramento has now been identified! It’s known as “Miners’ Lettuce” and apparently is edible when it is young like this.

Last week’s Miners’ Lettuce.
This week’s Miners’ Lettuce.

The ferns continue to develop and will probably enjoy a complete reproductive cycle before the summer heat causes them to die back.

Visitor-planted daffodils are growing better in some places than in others. Perhaps the big stand is being helped out with watering…

Daffodils last week.
Daffodils this week.

There is a unique species along the path, the “wattle” that is native to Australia. It blooms early and very brightly. It’s an acacia; there are many different varieties.

The wattle last week.
The wattle this week.

Another spring flower is oxalis. I don’t see much growing naturally in the woods, but it is in gardens everywhere, and at Pond Park there is a little hill totally covered with it.

oxalis (wood sorrell)

Animals

I haven’t spotted any pregnant deer but there might be one or two.

There are always a few egrets by the river.

Here’s another try at capturing an image of the elusive woodpeckers.

New Growth

Of all the photos I took of branches leafing out, this one of catkins (willow, probably) is the only one that came out.

catkins

Time and Change

If you inspect the situation carefully, you might realize that the only time you have actually directly experienced is present time. The past can only be experienced through memory, and the future through imagination.

The changes we make to present time are all that make it appear that time is passing. We can count the changes that appear to be cyclic (rotation of heavenly bodies, vibration of atoms) and thus “measure time.” The physical universe changes in such predictable ways that this works for us.

Yet all of existence actually only exists in this instant. This fact has been used in our spiritual work to help us understand how to gain more control over our present time, and thus, the future.

29 February update

It’s not often I get to write a post on the 29th of February!

We have basically had zero rainfall this whole month, which is a little unusual. The plants which rely heavily on surface water are suffering under these conditions.

wilting ferns

The ferns I have been following are obviously now wilting, even as their spore sacks are almost mature.

The daffodils planted by park lovers are doing better, but they are bulb plants so have a mechanism to store some reserve moisture. Even so, you can see some wilting in these flowers.

daffodils

A new flower has appeared, also a bulb plant. These are almost certainly Allium (onion family) though the flowers are a bit showy, suggesting the possibility that these are horticultural escapees.

allium - onion - new flower
allium fully open flower

The low rain levels also showed up at this holding pond next to a newer development. This is usually full this time of year.

Meanwhile, the early-leafing trees continue to green out. This is a buckeye, which I tried to photograph earlier but failed to get my focus right.

buckeye new leaves

The Miner’s Lettuce I have been following is still going strong, probably due to the shaded locations and thicker soils it seems to prefer. I tried a little bite this time and it is very palatable.

The fruit trees continue to flower. The earliest ones were very showy, but now many more have appeared. I was interested in how many of them appeared in the understory of the wooded area along the trail. These reminded me of the flowering dogwood I used to see in Michigan forests in the spring. These trees get sunlight until the canopy leafs out, though in this particular forest the summer canopy is less dense than it can get in a Midwestern deciduous forest. I don’t think fruit trees are the normal thing in mature forests, so these could be escapees from cultivation.

fruit trees flowering in a riparian forest near a population center

7 March update

Some rain finally came today. I didn’t believe it would be much when I got the news on my weather app, so I didn’t take my umbrella, but went without my bike.

The rain wasn’t hard, but it was persistent. I got wet enough that I decided to go into Goodwill and get an umbrella. Or, maybe, an umbrellita. It was a kid’s umbrella, but I thought it was kinda cool. Dory from Finding Nemo.

Dory from Finding Nemo

First of February

2 February 2020

In California, February often marks a warming period before the rains of March hit. In a place like Sacramento, where the winters are mild, you may even spot an occasional fruit tree blooming in February.

After missing my usual bike trip last week so I could have time to volunteer at the Pig Bowl (Police versus Firefighters charity event), I again cycled the 18 or so miles down the American River from Folsom to downtown Sac this Saturday.

Pig Bowl

signing the pledge

At the Pig Bowl we push living drug-free during the little pregame “Kids Safety Fair” for people who come early.

Various law enforcement and first responder groups have booths and encourage young people to think about joining up. Even the FBI was there. I caught this moment where the California Highway Patrol’s “Chipper” is posing with a girl. It’s possible they know each other.

Chipper and friends

Last year the Star Wars people (Rebel Legion Endor Base, a “Star Wars costuming group”) entered right through the booths area, but this year they came in some other way. I did see them exit, though.

Rebel Legion Endor Base

Spring begins on the American River

With the assistance of wet weather, new growth for this year’s regrowth of all the various perennial plants has started. Some young leaves look good enough to eat, and possibly are.

new growth

I revisited the ferns, but they seem only a little more mature than they did the last time.

fern fronds

Fishermen were back out in the salmon spawning grounds. It’s possible fishing is not allowed during spawning season, but the regulations I found were too complex for me to know for sure. Note the heron in the distance, also fishing or looking for frogs.

fishermen below the dam

Next I went by a place where I’d seen a young buck before. “Wonder if he’ll show up today…” Sure enough he did. He was wary of me, but when I knelt down he came up and crossed the bike path.

Somebody has planted a few garden flowers along the path. My closeup lens didn’t work perfectly, but this little daffodil protected by a circle of rocks really caught my eye.

narcissus variety

Winter’s Spring

22 December 2019
december clouds sacramento

A funny thing about this area is that it gets almost all its precipitation during the three (or four) months of winter. It seldom freezes here – if so, not for very long.

As a result, many plants start their “spring” cycle, essentially, with the first winter rains. Shortly after the first rains, you’ll see green grass everywhere. I really noticed it this year, as I have been braving the cooler weather to continue my weekly bike rides (when there is no rain). I thought this area was particularly pretty:

New green grass – at the beginning of winter!

While most of the trees act like it really is autumn, many of the smaller plants on the ground that don’t have access to the deeper water reached by the tree roots take advantage of the rains to start a new growth cycle.

winter ferns by the american river

If you look closely you can see that many of these fern leaves are sporophylls (fertile leaves). I hardly ever notice these ferns during the summer. This must be their time of year. After the rains leave they probably die back.

He’s hiding from me!

Grazing animals benefit from this burst of new growth, I’m sure. We have deer in the park – too few, it seems to me. And also quail which like to stay out of sight, and turkeys which like to go anywhere they please.

Not hiding from anyone!

Artemisia

There is a bush that is very common along the river that has caught my eye several times. But now it is particularly visible because it is staying green. I didn’t think I knew this bush, but I thought “that looks like Artemisia.” Problem was, I’d forgotten what Artemisia was! Well, it’s sagebrush, and there’s a lot of it along the lower river.

sagebrush closeup
Artemisia!

The bushes along the river flower profusely very late in the year, but the flowers are rather nondescript. Its leaves are quite small, and new foliage is bright green. These bushes can stand 6 or 8 feet tall.

Other river visitors

It is still spawning season on the river. Big salmon from the ocean swim all the way up here, spawn in the pebbly shoals, then die. They attract gulls and many vultures, but the birds don’t seem to like the dead fish that much. I don’t blame them.

vultures in a tree

This day (the last day of fall) the vultures were particularly numerous. Notice the one towards the bottom of the photo that is spreading its wings to dry them out.

I also spotted a kingfisher. This bird may be living here year-round, but they also migrate. The smaller birds are difficult for me to catch with my camera, so I am proud of myself every time I get a decent picture of one.

kingfisher on american river

Odds and Ends

28 September 2019

feet-on-the-train-20190928-058

This weekend the high temperatures fell below 70 (F). But I got on the train for my usual ride up to Folsom. They were getting the streets ready for the annual Farm-to-Fork Festival, featuring food, drink, and entertainment on the Capitol Mall, just blocks from where I live.

At some point in the ride, a young lady – very cute and wearing short shorts – boarded the train and sat down sideways in a seat a few yards in front of me. I couldn’t resist getting a photo of her feet sticking out into the aisle.

American River Parkway

As the Parkway goes into autumn mode, the scenes there are mostly predictable, but with little variations due to the season. The geese are flying around more and gathering on park lawns more. In this shot I also caught a ground squirrel standing at his burrow.

geese-and-ground-squirrel-ARP-20190928-071

The four does I had noticed earlier were split into two pairs today. One pair was right at the bike trail. I am surprised they come that close, but they must be a bit acclimated to humans nearby.

deer-ARP-20190928-074

The late-flowering yellow asters are about the only flowers left in these woods now. The big-flowered ones are particularly showy, but their range is very limited – that is, I only see them in a few places.

yellow-flower-ARP-20190928-061

The taller plants with all the flowers near the top are more ubiquitous. One field where they predominate is very bright with them right now. And I saw many more on my short walk over to West Sac.

yellow-aster-ARP-20190928-066

A new yellow flower joined these usual ones today. It is called Sundrops, or sometimes Evening Primrose. This one may have escaped from cultivation, as it is rare in the wild here. But it is a perennial, so once established it should continue to grow.

sundrops-oenothera-ARP-20190928-086

The Festival

I have been out of this scene for so long, it is a bit difficult for me to understand why these events attract so many people. It’s as if these people are constantly looking for “things to do” and ways to spend money. I don’t have to look for things to do or ways to spend money. My various interests keep me totally occupied. But that does not seem to be the case with most of these folks.

farm-to-fork-festival-balloon-lady-20190928-139

In this typical scene, we have beer being served in the background, and a street entertainer making balloon shapes for kids. The glass of beer in the hand of the woman in the foreground is typical, if anything, a bit small.

On stage at the bridge end of the Mall (nearest the river) a blues-rock act named Samantha Fish was performing.

farm-to-fork-festival-Samantha_Fish-20190928-102

This stage – and I suppose the performers using it – was underwritten by Bank of America. The festival is free to get in, so it must make back its operating costs from the sale of alcoholic beverages. Beer is extremely popular in this area. It probably is everywhere and I just have never paid that much attention.

Drake’s Barn

And thus another activity quickly becoming popular in this area – Drake’s Barn. This place has only been open for about a year now. Drake’s makes beer in San Leandro and has another taproom (bar) in Oakland. The Barn is located across the street from a housing development aimed at up-and-coming young people. I am guessing most of them work in Sacramento, as it’s very close to the main bridge that connects Sac and West Sac.

The Barn will be hosting a show of “electric art” next weekend, mostly light-oriented I think, and I plan to go over and check that out. So this weekend I walked over to the location to see exactly where it is and how long it takes to get there (about 20 minutes).

The place was full of kids playing – I guess that’s just part of the amenities there – while parents sipped their cold ones. I wondered what sort of lives these people lead, and what their futures will be like.

walk-to-drakes-barn-20190928-121-playground

Above you can see “The Barn” in the background. It is an odd-shaped flowing building made of numerous wood planks. Here’s a closer look, from the rear:

walk-to-drakes-barn-20190928-124-rear

I was keeping track of the time by taking pictures of my phone. However, I had my camera set wrong on this one, and the phone instead worked like a mirror.

walk-to-drakes-barn-20190928-130-me

On my walk back, I glanced over the side of the bridge at the bank below and saw two cats there. I’m guessing they are feral cats. The one I caught licking itself in particular looks a bit scary.

walk-to-drakes-barn-20190928-135-cats

World Peace Day

An event earlier in the week at my church was a small presentation commemorating the International Day of Peace, officially observed each year on 21 September. This was started in 1981. Costa Rica had a lot to do with getting the U.N. resolution written.

The guest speaker at our church event was Edrine Ddungu, formerly of Uganda. He personally witnessed the terrorism in Uganda instigated (apparently) by Idi Amin. His own father was brutally murdered, at which point he was quietly sent to live in Kenya and finally made it to the U.S. where he wanted to study at Sacramento City College.

He told us that his desire to play a leadership role in promoting interfaith cooperation and non-violence comes mostly from his desire to continue the work of his father. He is currently president of the Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento.

The situation in Africa

Uganda could be considered to be at the center of a very bad scene in Central Africa. I don’t understand it well, but it probably has partly to do with a breakdown of civilization in Africa that occurred in ancient times which has been followed by criminal meddling from outside players ever since. The Portuguese were the first to arrive on the Atlantic coast. They almost immediately started slave operations there. But slave operations on the eastern coast of Central Africa (Indian Ocean) had already been active for hundreds of years, and these were non-European operations.

There seemed to have been an almost world-wide agreement that Africa offered resources that could be freely taken advantage of by any group that had sufficient organization and weapons. And that has been the pattern ever since.

All Mr. Ddungu can do now is return yearly to his home country with a bit of money and educational assistance. The general situation in the region is still largely out of control.

The continuing violence in Africa seems to be fueled both by a complete lack of moral compass on the part of any of the major players in the region, and by increasing demand from the rest of the planet for the various commodities that are produced there.

Of the handful of people who attended the event, several were not particularly aware of how brutal and desperate the situation in Africa has been. We saw the great advances made in South Africa and thought that perhaps the rest of the continent was on a similar path. Though this may some day come to pass, it certainly is not the current situation.

However, getting reliable data on what has really been going on in the region has been nearly impossible. So my characterizations of the current scene are guesses based on reports I have been able scrape up or ran into. I am not a student of African politics or economics. But to say that part of the world is in definite need of sanity would be an understatement.

Earlier in the year, Scientologist Tim Bowles had visited us to talk about his work in Africa. He described the experience of meeting with the leader of one of the many African extremist groups. The man was at the emotional level of a teenager, mainly interested to know if Tim had met any famous Hollywood personalities. These people have stars in their eyes. They think they can become rich off the world’s dependence on various strategic minerals found in Africa. My guess is that they care about little else.

While Tim has had some success at starting real human rights education in Central Africa, it seems to me that until the companies that deal with African suppliers demand compliance with basic standards of human decency, people there will continue to suffer.

It’s our job, then, to get to those companies and change their minds about how they deal with Africa. That racism has nothing to do with this is very hard to imagine. Yet racism is just another manifestation of the insanity we are confronted with on this planet. We must make the people we can reach saner. If we don’t, this planet will be lost.

Equinox

22 September 2019

A few days ago we had our first rain in at least six months. I was wondering if any of the plants in the American River Parkway would respond to this. Of course, we are also just a day or two away from the fall equinox, the official beginning of autumn, and the plants could be responding to that, too.

But I really only saw one big change along the trail, and that was a renewed flowering of the mysterious yellow asters that I haven’t yet identified. While the tarweed that was so visible in a Folsom field has decided to stop flowering, these other yellow flowers decided the opposite.

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The other yellow flowers that I mentioned in a previous post are also blooming more strongly now. I think this may also be triggered by soil moisture.

This is also a time when flocking behavior and migration starts to occur for some birds. This was very evident on the river, with large groups of gulls appearing. I hardly ever see gulls on the river during the summer.

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Some of the larger aquatic birds will also begin to move around more this time of year. This egret is stopping at a man-made water control pond in Folsom. I hardly ever see egrets at this pond.

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The “ARP deer” were camped out at their usual place along the trail. For some reason, though, most of them were lying down – almost hiding – in the dry grass.

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The parties associated with the end of summer – and of the summer school break – are mostly at an end. But I missed including this shot in my last post, and I wanted to mention it because I had never seen something like this before. It was part of a party at Hagan Park last week.

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A child (or even an adult, I suppose) can climb into this clear inflated sphere through one of two ports and then walk or crawl around inside it. I found the somewhat bizarre structure of the object most intriguing.

On my way back home, I usually stop at this little mini-park in midtown to get a drink from the water fountain (the one in the foreground, not the cute one).

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And in the same neighborhood – a quite posh part of town – I happened upon this restored vintage car. This appears to be a 1937 Cadillac.

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The equinox symbolizes a momentary balance that our universe oscillates around. May your balance move towards perfection and your oscillations be interesting and instructive.