Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

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

COVID-19 Mascot and other Animals

3 May 2020
turtle hiding

This guy was sitting on the Folsom bike trail I use to get to the American River Parkway from Winco. Apparently he had started across the trail but something must have happened to startle him and he stopped. He was right in the middle of the trail – anything could have come along and run into him. I set him over to the side and took this photo.

It was another beautiful day on the trail – a bit cooler than previously.

people on the bike trail Rancho Cordova area

A lot of people were out, as has been mentioned regarding my other recent trips. These ones aren’t hiding inside!

Also out were the model train enthusiasts in their park-like area next to the big park in Rancho Cordova known as Hagan Community Park.

maintenance locomotive at Sacramento Model Stream Train Museum

Various flowering trees were also making themselves known.

Buckeye (or western horse chestnut):

buckeye in bloom

Elderberry – now fully blooming in most locations:

Elderberry in bloom

Some catalpas by the river were also noted:

catalpa in bloom

Animals

Many animals were also out and about. The birds of course are always the most obvious. Here is another attempt to photograph the bluebird that lives in one of the bird houses erected in an area that is being replanted:

bluebird

I was shooting into the sun, thus the bird was mostly shaded and underexposed. In this photo I have asked the image software to correct for the underexposed subject, which brought out the blue on the wings. Most of the bird house inhabitants are not bluebirds, but this one pretty clearly is.

A deer:

I’m wondering if we’re going to see some new fawns soon.

Canada geese on the lawn:

geese on park lawn

As mentioned in other posts (https://lecox.wordpress.com/2016/10/06/goose-poop/ ) many Canada geese have settled into urban parks and made them their homes. I also see them in larger ponds and in the river and sometimes on suburban commercial or residential lawns. They can make quite a lot of noise but otherwise seem rather well-mannered.

Bees:

bee on clover

The lawn at George Pond Recreation Area was full of clover, and the bees were taking advantage.

So: Life goes on! I feel more and more like that turtle that needs to get out of its shell and walk around a bit. Hiding was not enabling it to “stay safe” in that particular situation.

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

Poor Images

11 April 2020

With a broken play on words, I introduce some of my photos from today’s trip back from Folsom. Was my camera giving me trouble or was I the problem? Hopefully this question is not important enough to answer at this time…

hummingbird on dead branch

Hummingbirds don’t often pose for me, but one did today. Still, I used all the optical zoom I could plus a crop of the photo to bring this little one this close.

people on the trail

This photo of some of the other trail users features a young man riding what seems to be a giant scooter. I’m not sure if it was motorized.

old cut in river bank

This is one of several cuts into the sandstone bank of the river that were likely made many years ago to facilitate gold mining operations.

manroot fruit

Though this would normally be called “wild cucumber,” it appears to be the related plant Manroot.

deer feeding on young leaves

There must be something in the young tree leaves or flowers that attracts this deer, as forage is abundant this time of year.

head of bluebird

This bluebird was also posing for me in this tree, but I failed to point my camera correctly, catching only its head. This bird is probably here because of the nearby nest boxes put out as part of a habitat restoration project.

jackrabbit running away

Likewise here, I had several good opportunities to get a profile of this jackrabbit, but ended up only with a shot of its rear. I have seen this animal in this area before, but they are very rare in these parts, and I consider myself lucky to have noticed it at all.

the clouds thin

By lunchtime, the clouds started thinning, as predicted. This is at the William B. Pond Recreation Area. Sometimes horse riders come here, as there’s plenty of parking space and some nice short trails.

horses at William B. Pond

This lady told me that the horses like having their pictures taken.

locust tree

I just call this tree a “locust,” but it’s probably a Black Locust. It is in the Legume family, related to the Acacias, Brooms, Clovers, Peas, etc. The flowers are striking as they bloom, but usually don’t last long.

men work on power lines

There are two sets of power lines that run basically north-to-south through this part of the county. I believe this was the “first” set of lines (more to the east). I never see these lines worked on. It is fairly uncommon, as you have to turn the power off to do it, and that’s a lot of power (about 300,000 volts at some hundreds of amps).

sundrops flower

This Sundrops plant was blooming! It’s a yellow Evening Primrose, and I last noticed in the late summer last year.

As I headed into the city, I saw more turkeys at the arboretum, but I already have a bunch of better photos of turkeys posted. Next stop was at the train tracks.

freight train going through midtown sacramento

This line runs through midtown (around 20th) and is used a lot. Fortunately, this train wasn’t very long.

In other news…

The most surprising thing (I think) that came to my attention recently was the fact that the U.S. now has a Space Force. The plan is to make it an independent branch of the Armed Forces, operating under the Air Force Department of the DOD.

I found out about this because I get newsletters from a bunch of electronics trade magazines and sites, and a recent featured article covered the story of how the Space Force is upgrading their near-earth radar systems so they can track more orbiting space objects.

I understand that a lot of people aren’t thrilled with the U.S. decision to militarize space. They don’t want to see space weaponized, as we already have enough trouble with land-based weapons. There is a United Nations treaty to this effect. However, with no space-capable fighters yet visible, these objections seem a bit premature. The current mission of the new branch consists mostly of protecting our most vital assets in space, like the GPS satellites.

There have been multiple stories released since the Air Force Space Command was established in 1982 concerning what might be “out there” besides our own satellites and space probes. No one is officially talking about that these days, though Reagan talked about the “other possibility” at least four times in public, so that keeps the fires burning under the story that there is more to our Space Force than meets the eye.

Space Force Seal in bad taste?

There has been some problem with the logo, or “seal” as it is called, for the new unit. Some Star Trek fans seem to feel that it might have been stolen from that show (late 1960s). However, the show’s emblem was purposely based on NASA’s emblem, which had been around since 1959. The main problem remains that the Starfleet was considered a non-military (mostly) activity sponsored by a federation of planets that had established peaceful relations among themselves. This was a central tenet of the original series, an appeal to viewers to embrace the diversity of races and cultures on Earth and abandon the Cold War and other types of war. With the implementation of our new Space Force, we have turned and walked defiantly off in a different direction, or so it appears.

Here is the “seal:”

U.S. Space Force Seal

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.

The Understory Revives

28 March 2020

Today is Saturday and it’s raining again. But this was predicted, so I went shopping (again) on Friday, and this time I brought my camera.

Understory? Reminds me of a bad joke. But ecologically, it’s everything that grows below the forest canopy that isn’t actually living in the ground. And though the canopy no longer exists along many parts of this river, springtime remains the time of the understory, of the lower-growing plants, bushes and trees that thrive before the canopy leafs out and shades them.

After a dry February, the rains returned in March, giving the early plants and flowers a big chance to proliferate. And though in many places the grasses are already choking them out, in many other places they are the stars right now.

Flowers

broom

Let’s start with all the leguminous plants that like to flower at this time. Above is a broom. Brooms are very hardy and are officially considered weeds in most of the west. But they sure are showy when they flower!

lupine

Here’s a lupine. What a show! This is probably the Silver Lupine, which is native in this area, but quite possibly has been replanted in this case.

Another spring legume is the vetch, not pictured. It is very common in this area and likes to crowd in with Star Thistle and the grasses that mature later in the year. And another is the Redbud. It is not native here, but has been planted all over due to its beautiful spring flowers.

Next, some flowers that may be horticultural escapees, but are very conspicuous now in the Folsom area.

Here we see Allium, Fiddleneck, and a mustard (Rocket) all growing together. The Allium are so noticeable right now that they deserve a separate portrait.

allium closeup

Monkeyflower, which I saw blooming in the late summer, is even more prolific now. It tends to grow in bushy patches.

monkeyflower

Right next to this plant, growing under a pine tree, were a large bunch of Collinsias. I call them by their botanical name because they have so many different common names, such as “Chinese Houses.”

collinsias

We also see vetch and leaves of a buckeye in the background, along with an unidentified dried stalk with seed capsules still attached, along with a mint in the fuzzy foreground on the right.

And of course Spring here would not be complete without California Poppies.

california poppy

Way down the parkway in the William B. Pond Park lawn, I found this next plant, which I had difficulty identifying. It is a Henbit, a small-flowered member of the mint family.

henbit

Other Plants

fern fronds in the sun

I had to go back and visit the fern plants I have been keeping track of. They seem mature now, which means the “green” part of their life cycle is almost over. In a moist environment (a real understory) these fronds would persist throughout the summer. But out here among these rocks, they will probably die back.

coral lichen and mosses

The amazing lichens I photographed back when it was really wet have already died back, and the mosses they live with are well on their way to completing their life cycle for another year, too.

Drawn to the Draws

In western lingo, any gully or visible low area is called a “draw.” I have always found these areas appealing, but they are hard to photograph in a way that conveys the feeling of shelter that goes with them.

large open draw

This one is all sunlit, right next to the trail, and with a big dead tree down at the bottom.

deep shaded draw

This one is also right next to the trail, but shaded. It is quite deep, but possibly not really natural, as all the terrain in this area has been modified by the old gold mining activities that used to be the norm along this river. But that’s been over 100 years ago now, so all these places have had a lot of time to grow back into more diverse ecosystems.

poppies next to a wide draw

Here’s another wide and sunny drainage area with poppies all along its banks. This is right next to a huge pile of river rocks (mine tailings) that has not yet become overgrown.

Animals

Animals present various photographic challenges. In this first shot, though, I think I just had my camera set wrong. The fuzziness of the butterflies does, however, suggest how in motion they were.

butterflies in fiddleneck

There were a lot of these dark-winged butterflies flying around. They look like they may be Swallowtails.

male turkeys

These turkeys did not really want their picture taken. I believe these are males. There were some females not far away, but they were further off the trail.

This deer also wanted to keep its distance.

Stay At Home?

people on the trail

A lot of people seemed to agree that home was not the place to stay on a beautiful sunny day. As was true last week, there were a lot of people walking and biking this Friday afternoon. Most of the government people involved with the shutdown orders seem to recognize our need to get out for some fresh air. They are most concerned about people going out in order to gather somewhere and then infect each other.

I was on an “essential” trip, grocery shopping, and those qualify as well. “Infrastructure” work also keeps going, such as on this construction site, and at the hotel they are building across from where I live.

construction site

The businesses being hit the hardest are the gathering places. The restaurants, bars, auditoriums, schools and churches. My church decided to close so that parishioners would not find themselves in situations where they would have to explain to authorities why going to church is essential (though I think it should be considered so!).

It is such a shame that a stupid disease would convince us that we should not go out and meet with each other, hug each other, or shake hands. It can’t continue this way. Hiding inside is no way to confront a problem. We do too much of that in “normal” times. In the end it would probably be better for us to get out more, not less. It’s already become a bad habit that many of us really need to break, not find more justifications for.

smile

More Spring Rain

15 March 2020
willow catkins in folsom

It was with some exasperation that I looked out upon the morning scene this Saturday and found it raining, again.

It’s not that I don’t like rain or that we don’t need rain. But this was Saturday, the one day I allow myself to go out and enjoy the out-of-doors!

And so once again, as I did last week, I packed my shopping bags, umbrella, and a book of short stories to pass the time, into my backpack and walked, without my bicycle, to the train stop to go to Folsom.

I’m glad I brought my umbrella this time, as it was still raining pretty hard when I got to Folsom. But it was tapering off a bit, so taking a few pictures was quite possible. How about this little snail skating across the walkway? I don’t see this much in these parts. Animals like this have to spend most of their time in the shadows under plants that get watered frequently, or they will just shrivel up.

snail on sidewalk with flower petals

I found this snail on the walkway up to Winco. I had checked their website and there the company assured customers that they would stay open (so that we can eat!) while also doing everything they could to comply with government regulations regarding crowd situations.

Thus, it was not a total surprise when I found a line outside the store, and employees there to inform us that they were limiting the number of people in the store to 250, letting us in ten at a time as shoppers exited.

It didn’t take long.

Much less of an inconvenience, I would imagine, than allowing thousands to come down to DOCO for a Kings (basketball) game, just to be turned away as one of the players had tested positive for the latest virus, resulting in the need to postpone the game.

Virus

I have gotten used to the word in its now-popular usage as a cybersecurity term. I had never really studied it that much as a biological phenomenon.

Some of the articles I read about it were so obfuscated by the heavy use of terms only commonly used in the arcane world of molecular biology that I could not make myself get all the way through them.

Articles “dumbed down” for the general public tended to anthropomorphize virus, as they seem to act in ways that are distinctly intelligent.

This tendency to portray virus as living thinking creatures might not be all that misguided, but is similar to what we have done with computers, and intentionally with AI programs like “Siri” and “Alexa.”

From my point of view, the probability that virus have a higher-level intelligence behind their structure and behavior is close to 100%. Chances are they have been around since the early days of biology, and perhaps were even a “mistake” or “security breach” from that era – totally lost now in the dimly-recalled and long-gone past.

An interesting game that virus play with higher-level organisms is that they mutate fairly rapidly, enabling them to re-infect organisms that have already developed immunity to previous versions. The only way for organisms to keep up with this game is to somehow face the consequences of getting re-infected, and then through that experience building up new immunity to the new strains.

Our medical people have attempted to simulate this process using vaccines. However, this has created a vaccine industry that depends for its cash flow on the constant development and sale of new vaccines, leading to ethically questionable practices. I sometimes think that all medical activities should be required to go forward only on a not-for-profit basis, thus discouraging bad behavior at the expense of our lives and our health.

The obvious priority in playing this vaccine game is to be as physically healthy as possible. This seems to be part of the impetus behind the pushing of “keto,” as the biggest advocates of it seem to be students of nutrition and physical exercise.

However, my training has taught me that there are mental and spiritual aspects to body health that cannot be overlooked. The brightest among us balance all these factors and tend to be very successful. The rest of us just try to keep up, or else have given up and wait quietly for their time to come.

I recommend the most proactive approach that you can manage given your resources. There is a certain clarity that comes with taking one’s personal health seriously in all of its aspects that is really worth having. I think it has something to do with certainty about one’s own future.

Here is a final image from my Saturday visit to Folsom:

oak tree new growth

I visit Ventura

23 February 2020

I went to Ventura yesterday with a group of Scientologists to attend the Grand Opening of Ventura Organization. That event is pictured below, in a photo provided to journalists for publicity purposes, and is otherwise covered at this church website: https://www.scientology.org/scientology-today/church-openings/grand-opening-ventura.html

ventura org grand opening

Needing to wait in line for a bathroom, I got there a bit late, and watched the proceedings from the side of this main area, located at the far right in the above photo.

Riding through the Central Valley

Wanting to get there in a minimum of time, but by car (a rented Dodge minivan), we naturally chose to rocket down the I-5. A typical stop along this freeway is pictured below.

freeway-side stop, central valley

This is a down-to-business freeway. Almost no major cities lie along this road. Fresno is to the east, on the older Route 99. To the distant west are the coastal ranges. Just before Los Angeles, these low mountain ridges turn inland, requiring a drive through a pass. The I-5 goes through Tejon Pass. The highest elevation on that pass is about 4 thousand feet, so not quite the same as crossing the Rockies!

This road is for people and goods that want a fast drive from southern California to northern California. And it really looks it. It’s an ugly road, unadorned by trees or flowers, or even many billboards. It goes “nowhere” except to the L.A. basin to the south and the Bay Area/Sacramento to the north. Of course it continues on further north; I’m just covering this section of it.

The ride south (and back, of course) takes a long time, several hours. And that is in good traffic (which we had). So we had to stop more than once in the valley. Our first stop was around 8:30 in the morning, at a little place about as far down the valley as Fresno.

fruit orchards

This area is dominated by fruit orchards, which I believe are mostly almonds (a fruit harvested for its nut, or pit). We also saw many citrus trees.

westside country store

The Westside Country Store is a somewhat famous business on I-5. But I didn’t know this at the time we stopped there, so didn’t go in.

Two hours later we were very near the Grapevine. We stopped again and I got this image of the electric transmission towers that help power Los Angeles.

electric transmission lines near Grapevine.

Right next to our parking space I spied the movement of a small animal. It turns out that this is a real gopher.

pocket gopher

We raced through the mountains, as we still had many miles to go to get out to the coast. Part of the road between I-5 and the coast is NOT freeway.

We arrive!

But the traffic was not bad, and we got to our destination around 11:30.

ventura org setting

The parking lot in this picture was reserved for special guests and event personnel. Some came in on big tour buses, which unloaded just a block away. The rest of us had to park at the fair grounds, which is up the road a bit.

I shared my spot during the proceedings with an interesting bush which I later learned is commonly called Desert Cassia. It was mad with flowers, so of course I had to take a photo.

desert cassia

As you might be able to tell from the top photo, there were a lot of people there. I met many people who I knew when I worked in Los Angeles, and recognized many more. I met Yoshikawa Wright, a stone sculptor who has an episode on our new TV channel, here: https://www.scientology.tv/series/meet-a-scientologist/yoshikawa-wright.html. We spoke briefly, as I had made a few stone pieces (alabaster) in art class in high school.

The area had been rainy, but this lifted during the event itself, then returned.

freeway daisies

Being right next to Highway 101, the stands of “freeway daisies” were much in evidence. These are more formally known as Trailing African Daisies.

trailing african daisies

We left around 4:30 in the afternoon. It took us about 5-1/2 hours to get back. That’s a lot of car riding! The sun set as we were on the pass.

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