Category Archives: nature

Bay views and scramblers.

When the fields and playgrounds are swampy from all the rain, what better place to go than up, up to the hills of North Berkeley where all those boulders are so perfectly and naturally arranged for scrambling fun?

Pippin’s family was down for the weekend, partly as a belated birthday getaway for her, an escape from the snow and cold to a slightly warmer part of the state. She suggested going to Indian Rock, which throughout her life she had heard about from me, but never visited.

It was the last day of showers for a while – only a few drops splashed on us midday, and we were able to explore three boulder-strewn parks in a three-block radius. We also looked at the house where the children’s great-great-grandmother had lived, in yesteryear when I used to play on these rocks, and take brisk walks through the neighborhoods with my Grandma. In those days I didn’t appreciate all the flowers and trees so much!

From two of those parks you can look west and see the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge at the same time. I’m only showing the Golden Gate in the photo below.

Here’s a map to help you get your bearings; Berkeley is in the “East Bay”:

In Mortar Rock Park we saw the evidence of primitive grinding — probably acorns — that gives it that name, and Ivy found the perfect tree for climbing when she plays her frequent leopard role. Not many other puddles were on the rocks, so we stayed nice and dry.

The family  had traveled most of the previous day just to get to my house, and this day we drove a lot more on our explorations. Near sunset we were passing by the uppermost link of the San Francisco Bay Trail; the Professor encouraged Pippin and me to get out while he waited in the car with the sleeping children. Scout woke up and joined us to walk at the top of San Pablo Bay. Along the bank orange flags marked a forestation project in process. We wondered what they have planted, but didn’t recognize the little seedlings. I held one as still as possible against the wind to take its picture in case I see that plant again.

The wind was fierce, and the waterfowl were mostly bedded down, but we liked getting the wide views, including a moon pretty much full round. We were pushed down the path by the wind at our backs, making it easy to walk almost too far that way. Returning against the current was more bracing, refreshing, exciting even — but invigorating is probably not the right word when you get back to the car as stiff as boards. We warmed up when we got home, and thought every part of the day had contributed to our contentment.

I wade in the icy (atmospheric) river.

The frogs were singing in a jubilant choir last night. I heard them when the rain paused briefly and I took another load of old papers and cardboard and stuff to the recycling. Early this morning it was the storm I heard from my bed, hammering on the roof and windows, but soon it ceased, and my weather app told me the respite would be long enough for a walk. When I closed the front door behind me I saw this:

They say we are in an Atmospheric River. I love the sound of that! It’s surely a cold river today; not even close to freezing by the thermometer, but my hands were getting clumsier by the minute, so that when I got home I had to wait a while before trying to get the pictures off my phone.

Blue patches of sky and rays of sunshine were setting off the blue-black storm clouds, and no frogs were croaking as I walked along the creek. Buckeye trees are raising up their new leaf clusters like trophies, at the same time the leaves of a liquidamber tree are still colorful and holding on. Is that one in a space sheltered from the winds we’ve been having? Branches have been knocked down from most trees, including a redwood branch that I gather came from high up in the canopy, judging from its little needles. Below it is an example of what most of the tree looks like.

If I had been wearing those high boots Linda recommended to me last week, I’d have been tempted to wade into the creek below the bridge to drag out a large piece of rubbish. I wonder if they are sturdy against blackberry thorns?

Before I got halfway home, hail began to fall afresh, and even though the hailstones were smaller this time they hurt my face when I peered up from under my raincoat’s hood. The sky was completely dark again…. and then it wasn’t!  The pussy willows were shining, and when I got close to home I saw another bright blue-and-gray scene right above my house. It’s a splendidly wet day, and I’m glad for a cozy house to come into from the storm. 🙂

Walking in green places.

This morning Neighbor Kim invited me to walk with her in a more rural area near where she used to live, and within 20 minutes we were driving over there. Showers were looming, but didn’t come, and we walked an hour along roads I hadn’t been on in many years.

 

She said, “I wish it would rain two days a month so it could stay green all year.”

Slow food and other good things.

Sunday was a long and stimulating day for me, with church, the symphony right afterward, and going out to dinner with my goddaughter for her birthday. I was a long time winding down when I finally got home, and stayed up till midnight. That usually bodes ill for the next day, but today has been very satisfying so far. I took a walk, made soup, got my sourdough sponge on to the next stage, wrote a letter, and watched the birds for a while.

In addition to the hummingbird feeder I’ve got two feeders supplied with black oil sunflower seeds. This morning two dozen finches (house and gold), chickadees, sparrows and juncos were flitting back and forth from one to another and to the fountain. When a pair of fat robins landed on the fountain I did a double-take, startled at their size after seeing so many little birds day after day.

On my walk I took a loop through the park where we used to attend the homeschool park days (they continue), and noticed for the first time two species of abutilon, though they are big bushes that have obviously been around for years. All of the plant pictures here are from my walk.

 

This time I didn’t add any regular yeast to the Swedish Sourdough Rye, and I’m baking it all in pans. That’s how I used to do it in yesteryear, and it worked for me back then. I don’t have any patience with my fancy Dutch oven boules right now, and want some tidy slices for the toaster. I divided the sloppy dough into small, medium and large lumps and poured them into greased loaf pans, small, medium and large. At the moment they are rising like the very Slow Food that they are, and I’m counting on them being out of the oven before bedtime — not talking about midnight this time!