I should be digging in the garden, but before I get on with that I want to make a report of the trip my man and I took last week to Oregon and Northern California.
|Great Hound’s Tongue – Cynoglossum grande|
It’s true, we do already live in Northern California, but it’s a large area, bigger than the states many of my readers live in, and it took us about six hours to get through the parts more northerly than us, before we crossed over into Oregon.
The pear trees were blooming everywhere — some of the orchards were old and venerable, but others looked younger and modern, with interesting trellises for the trees.
We were in Oregon to see Pathfinder and his family. One of my favorite things there was playing dolls with our granddaughter “Annie.” She told me all the updated names of her babies, including Molly, whose wardrobe I created.
During the weekend she also read to me from American Girl magazine, and the whole of A Bargain for Frances, which we read together about two years ago also. We took two walks around the neighborhood, one with the dog, and sat side-by-side at every meal.
Kids going four different directions Saturday morning meant that I could be useful driving Annie to her ballet lesson. You can imagine how voluminous was her hair before her mother twisted it into this fat bun.
Following ballet we went to the ball field to see Older Brother play shortstop. We played a hilarious game of Apples to Apples in the evening. And on Sunday afternoon all eight of us took a lovely hike up a table rock.
|Hairy Pussy Ears – calochortus tolmiei|
Scads of wildflowers kept Annie and me trailing behind the others so that we could take pretty pictures. We told poison oak stories and looked out for the oily new leaves of that hated vine.
Besides the plants I’ve pictured here, we saw shooting stars, Red Bells fritillaria, larkspur, and a score of beauties that we didn’t have time to stop and consider. No one had brought along a wildflower guide.
|Crocidium multicale – goldfields
The hills and the trail were dotted heavily with creamy-flowered chaparral that we found out later is called Buck Brush, a type of ceanothus. It’s very showy when you see it covering the hills that are still green from the late rains, but up close it’s stiff and stickery.
And when we got to the top, it was indeed a tableland of volcanic rock with sweeps of tiny yellow, purple and white flowers spreading out in every direction.
The volcanic mountain commanding attention from that area, whether you are on the table or down below, is Mt. McLoughlin, one of the many such peaks making a line up and down the west side of our continent.
|Oldest grandson enjoying the view|
It makes me happy that our families like hiking together. When we visit one or another of our children they often want to show us a new trail or mountain discovery. Or we might decide to visit an old favorite place that requires a little trek to accomplish.
The day we left the Pathfinder Family, we stopped at a pioneer cemetery and strolled around looking at gravestones. I did say a prayer over some of them, but it wasn’t until we got home a few days later that I realized I had missed the day that Orthodox go to cemeteries to bless the graves, the Tuesday after Bright Week. It was not the exact day I was graveside, but close. I love visiting the graves; there is always a touching epitaph to ponder, or a family group with dates that tell a vague but compelling story of love and loss.
The little town of Ashland, Oregon, was our next stop. It’s known for its Shakespeare Festival, and special mineral water called Lithia Water. Lithia Park was lovely on this sunny day, and the mother duck was also out for a stroll with her children.
|Pipe spouting Lithia Water|
We stayed at Pippin’s homestead for a couple of nights on our way back, and took a hike with those folks, too. It was pointed out that the peaks we stood on, one on Sunday with Pathfinder, and one on Tuesday with Pippin, both gave a view of Mount Ashland in Southern Oregon. But I didn’t get a photo of that peak from either place.
The weather had started to warm up at long last, and by the time we got to the top of Yellow Butte the air was balmy. Before long I found myself lying on the short soft grass that has sprouted. I could have been happy to doze there for hours smelling the tiny flowers and shoots that were all around my head.
|The view from my bed in the grass|
|Scout eating cheese at the top|
We ate a picnic of bread and cheese and strawberries, and Scout tottered around on the rocks while I tried to stay calm and remember that his balance is much better than mine.
|A ladybug came to our picnic.|
Scout and his explorations and exclamations were the focus of this hike. His impatience at having to ride in the backpack up and down was softened occasionally when his mother or I handed him a new sort of twig or flower, or even one of the “spongy galls” that we found on the rabbit brush.
If we named the object, he would repeat whatever we said, usually many times, while trying to work it into his mind’s growing encyclopedia. But he also got the fun of swinging up and down the slope by the arms of his parents, and that briefly pushed all the new words out of the way with giggles.