Soldier and Doll welcomed me to stay at their place overnight so that I could be at my son’s graduation from a 16-month course at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey early in the morning.
lupines and more
As I backed out of our driveway at the beginning of my trip, the car thermometer registered 91°. On the Golden Gate Bridge it was 61°, in Santa Clara County 94°, and by the time I got to Monterey, back into the low 60’s. I kept busy putting the car windows up and down and the A.C. on and off.
After dinner that night we walked on the boardwalk at Asilomar Beach, and took pictures. We definitely needed sweaters out there.
Some of the large Presidio herd of deer were relaxing near the gate next morning… …and did not pay much attention to our important event.
Soldier graduated with honors from his program, and after the ceremony and picture-taking with teachers we went out for omelettes and waffles. Before I knew it, it was time for me to pack my sleeping bag in the car and drive through the bands of warm and cool again to come home!
Today I’ll be back at my usual tasks — I mostly wanted to put up a few pictures to remember my fast trip.
The DVD player was broken at the house we were renting–not a bad thing. The littlest kids watched several Disney movies on a video player in a bedroom, and the older boys got to reading books. I had brought a box of games and things to read, coloring books and lovely soft colored pencils. Granddaughter and I, and also her next-oldest brother colored a lot of pictures from the Greek myths coloring book, and then the Celtic animals one. At least one older boy said that Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt was Awesome. Pearl read Mrs. Mike.
Months ago Herm gave me a small old paperback, The Singing Forest, knowing my love of deer. This leisurely stay where deer did browse in the back yard seemed the perfect place to read such a book. One afternoon we had rain and cold, so we who were hanging out at the house turned on the gas fireplace and snuggled under blankets.
Between what groceries we had brought and the few items stocked in the house, Pearl concocted some chocolate cupcakes while I curled up with my book. It’s very sweet, fascinating as a glimpse of life on a Scottish estate and also a sort of sociology of Scottish red deer. A real-life Bambi story.
Wallace Stegner’s Remembering Laughter and Collected Stories were the other books in my Oregon stack. I’ll have to think more on those before I can do justice to them by anything I can write, but I have to say that any fiction by Stegner I’ve read has been most satisfying.
Some of us went up Mt Bachelor on the ski lift and got views of The Sisters and Broken Top. It was 36° up there so we mostly sat in the coffee shop and sipped cocoa.
Baby Scout was kept on task learning to crawl by having one or more cousins demonstrating and distracting him from his misery at being on his tummy. He made great progress during those few days, and has now learned that exploring is fun.
I think the next installment in the Oregon series will be the last, and none too soon, for I’m not comfortable being so behind in my reports. New and more recent adventures are always presenting themselves and wanting documentation and analysis. It is well known that I am always willing.
When I went to the northernmost reaches of California to deliver the quilt I wrote about in my last post, I was able to hang around a while afterward and get a tour of the house my daughter recently bought with her husband. The outdoor setting and my nature walk are the subject of this post.
Living in suburbia as we have for nearly 20 years, I’ve noticed that trees more often than not are a problem, because they are too big for the small spaces allotted to them. But this property had plenty of space for trees to grow for 30 years, into their majesty. In the center of the photo above is a Douglas Fir with a cave-like space underneath where I told Pippin I could envision children playing.
It’s like a park, what with the forest next door, and the tall trees nearer the house. Here is a Blue Spruce.
The house was unoccupied for more than a year, but the deer included the yard in the territory they considered home. This fellow is one of a family of the critters that live here, whom the new owners call Spike.
Spike and his kin watched as The People moved some pots into a sunny spot in the back yard, and a few weeks later they watched some fruits get big. One day they ate all the topmost barely-pink tomatoes.
The People made a wider fence so that hungry animals couldn’t reach the next fruits that ripened, and in the middle of September two of the Belgian heirloom variety called Ananis Noir, or Black Pineapple, were finally ready.
I was on hand to enjoy their really good flavor!
There are some outbuildings on the property, such as this one that is begging for some chickens or goats to move in.
And “next door” is a huge meadow, where I rambled with Pippin, my nature girl. We went through some forest on the way. I hope you will come along on our exploration.
This is the fence through which we trespassed.
In our yard at home we have a pine tree that always looks dry and scraggly, so I was immediately impressed with the robust green needles on this Ponderosa Pine.
My guide let me know that it is hard to tell a Ponderosa from a Jeffrey Pine, they are such close cousins. But the barbs on the Ponderosa cone point outward and prick you when you hold it. The Jeffrey cones slant inward.
The forest floor is dense with needles and cones. Is that a blue jay feather I see on the left?
All over the woods were little piles where squirrels had made a meal of the Ponderosa cones and left the remains.
Sugar Pines are spindly, but their cones are bigger, like this.
We came out of the trees to see the expanse of meadow, with clouds blocking our view of the peaks. It looks pretty monotonous, doesn’t it? But there were a thousand different plants waiting to be discovered by a patient eye.
The ground under our feet felt odd. I looked down and saw this. The floor of the meadow is spongy, with a papery crust–the dried-up bog that makes walking out there difficult for most of the year.
Yarrow is one of those plants that blends in with the general golden tones of a California summer.
This looks like a member of the pea family.
The darker swath through this part of the meadow is where a stream ran in the wet season.
I guessed by the distinctive minty smell that this was a type of pennyroyal.
A tiny yellow flower seen only by God and us.
This plant below with tall purple blooms Pippin had never seen before. I hadn’t either, but that is more to be expected.
When I first glanced down at this plant, I thought of wild strawberry. But upon closer inspection, it didn’t have that kind of leaf.
My daughter knew that it was actually a type of ceanothus called Squaw Carpet. As I was taking these pictures, the drizzle was becoming rain, and we were headed back.
Less tame animals come around their place. This bear scat was fresh when they first saw it near the house, not long after the bear had gorged on manzanita berries.
Incense Cedars grow in the neighborhood. This little fruit is all the cone they make. But they aren’t true cedars.
Douglas Firs make these cones with “rattails” sticking out. But they aren’t true firs.
I’m happy that among the imposters stand trees that are true to their name, like this fir. See how its needles stand upright? True firs, and not the Douglas kind, make good Christmas trees.
Remember my first picture, of the tree branches arching over a cozy den? Spike was resting there later, and didn’t mind me taking his picture. I wonder who will next be enjoying that spot, his grandchildren or mine?
This month during Mr. Glad’s time off work, he and I took one trip to two mountain destinations. First we camped in Yosemite National Park, but not in the valley as we used to do. There aren’t many sites available there anymore.
We stayed at White Wolf for the first time. Here is my husband hammering in the tent stakes. You can see the dark brown bear box in the background behind him. It was large enough for an ice chest and three other largish camp boxes. All food and smelly things have to go in there, NOT in your car, and certainly not in your tent, and then you lock it with a special kind of latch that bears can’t work.
Our set of pots and two dishpans, inherited from our parents. We come from a long line of campers! And generations of these people have favored Yosemite for their camping.
As I was starting dinner, thundershowers broke. We quickly put everything away and waited in the car for a while.
Our first night we had Tuna and Bulgur with Green Beans, an old favorite–well, I don’t love it myself, but it was a good one to make for the crowd through the years. Camp food should not require too much cooking time, or you run out of fuel. And it should not be too weird or fancy, because you want the children to eat. It also should not have too many ingredients that need to be in the ice chest, because the ice chest is never big enough.
This time we accidentally left the green beans at home, so I chopped up the remainder of the raw vegetables I’d been snacking on in the car for a substitute.
Here is a view of Tenaya Lake and the eastern mountains of Yosemite, from Olmstead Point, on the Tioga Pass Road, Hwy 120. This highway is the only road that goes all the way through the park to the eastern side of the Sierras.
Olmstead Point is one of my favorite places in the world, because there are so many fun and strange formations of granite, and very accessible for scrambling around on. Of course, the views are great, too! Here you can see Half Dome in the distance, center. To the left, rising out of the picture so that you can’t see the top, is a hunk of granite called Clouds Rest, which my ambitious Other Half climbed while I sat in camp all day and read books. It was seven miles up, seven miles down. Then he swam in Tenaya Lake.
The pale flower that I am holding steady against the breeze with my hand, I believe to be a collinsia. The hot pink one I haven’t identified yet. Any ideas? [update: It is Scarlet Gilia]
The second night I made some buttermilk biscuits to go with canned soup. I brought the dry ingredients and butter already mixed and in a bag in the ice chest, along with a jar of the right amount of buttermilk. The biscuits were definitely the best part of that meal. We’re not used to canned soup; my man kept saying he thought it needed more salt, and I said I was sure they had already put as much salt as possible in it to try to bring out what little flavor was there.
We went up the road to Tuolumne Meadows in the evening. That’s Lembert Dome sort of lying against the hill. We climbed it several times over the years with the children. Pippin did some of her earliest hiking there, at the age of 2 1/2 I think it was, running from rock to small boulder to hoist herself up on to, and saying, “Won wock,” and then again, “Won wock….,” learning to count to one as well.
Another thing that makes Tuolumne Meadows special to us is that when we were here with my in-laws almost 38 years ago, before they were my in-laws, we got engaged to be married! My in-laws to-be took this picture of us when we told them. It’s the only “engagement picture” we have. 😉
Next to the Tuolumne Meadows Bridge, I took many pictures of these does and their two buck friends who were close by. The lighting was poor, and I was too far away, but I had to try. You know I love deer.
I waded in the Tuolumne River, where two streams came together over a slab of granite that wasn’t too slippery, if I were careful. I was.
Large bushes of lupines were everywhere! Everywhere, that is, where we were driving by and couldn’t stop to take a picture. Or everywhere that the wind was blowing them wildly. I became obsessed with finding the right bush in a convenient photographic place. Finally, as we were leaving Yosemite, at Crane Flat there were hundreds of them among the trees by the store. From looking at six wildflower books I’d say these are Flat Leafed Lupines, but don’t ask me the botanical name. They don’t have hairy leaves, and they are tall!
We left Yosemite and drove south through the foothills to my family’s cabin high up above Fresno. Thirteen of us gathered to hold a memorial service for my father.
The cabin overlooks this lake. I love this picture, taken from a dome behind our cabin, because it shows quite a bit of the dome itself. The lake is surrounded by domes. Several of them have been climbed by various of us.
The house can only be used about four months out of the year, because it lies at 8200′ and sometimes gets buried in snow. It is the cabin with the brown roof. The owner of another cabin went in on snowshoes and took this picture.
It is a man-made lake, for the purpose of generating hydroelectric power. Sometimes they pump water out of it and the water level goes way down, exposing a lot of smaller boulders as in this picture taken of Kate about 15 years ago. Then we call it a Mud Puddle.
This is another long-ago picture of some young sprouts above the lake.
My dad bought a canoe soon after he acquired the cabin almost 20 years ago; it’s a great tool for enjoying the water and the surrounding domes. I was out this time with B. and H., paddling for an hour, almost to the creek inlet. It was glorious to use my muscles after so much time out of commission lately. Songs fairly burst out of me when I am in a canoe, I get so excited by the pure romanticism of it all, the Canadian/Indian canoeing songs that we somehow learned when the children were small. As we were skimming across the lake I told about Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling and how that book has been made into a movie that I am eager to see. But this pic above is from the past, with a different daughter.
On one work day we built a fire ring just below the cabin. Weak-armed women stood on the deck and took pictures of their shadows.
My dad was invited once to take a plane ride over the Sierra Nevadas to see all the places he had hiked so many times. They flew over Our Lake and he got a picture.
After many of the extended family went home, there were five of us who stayed the night. The guys had a challenging game of Risk, or World Domination (?) We girls were not into it.
Pippin baked a tart on our last morning. It was good she didn’t need a pie plate, as we discovered there was not such a thing to be found up there. One never knows what to expect. From now on we will be adding some of those items that we women want. But the nearest store is 3,000 ft. down the mountain and an hour away. We avoid making that trip for all but the most extreme needs.
My father, in a characteristic cabin pose, ten or so years ago. There doesn’t seem to be a way to fix this picture so that you don’t see the hand towel he always used to protect the arm of the chair! He thought it was perfectly appropriate for cabin living, even if he would never do such a thing at home.
It doesn’t feel the same up there, knowing that he won’t ever join us again. Thank you, Daddy, for giving us this family-nurturing place in a soul-nurturing mountain haven.