Tag Archives: privet

Breakfast by the creek.

It’s invigorating to get outdoors in the springtime, at least, when we aren’t having cold winds and cloudy days. Last Saturday when Liam and Laddie were here, they collected manzanita berries from my bush and made pies.

Every time I go to church lately, something new is bursting with color. A type of salvia I haven’t seen elsewhere has flowers that glow like jewels:

And the California poppies! I feel that own garden will not be truly complete until these orange poppies are blooming in it — but I am a little afraid to throw out the seed and have them grow like weeds.

This morning, I took a walk by the creek. You might guess from my shadow that I am shaped like a bug. But I assure you, I more closely resemble a human.

From the bridge I heard a toad croaking;
blue jays were busy about something, hopping around in the trees.
Many other birds were singing and chirping. I don’t know who they were.

blackberry flower

I had set out before having breakfast, or so much as a glass of water. Uh… forgot that I can’t do that anymore. The squirrel scrabbling up and down a tree contrasted sharply with my slowing gait.

Besides the many wild things growing along the path, there are the backyard plants that have climbed over the fences. Like this trumpet vine:

 

privet
honeysuckle

Oh, the banks of honeysuckle were sweet! But I’m afraid they didn’t make a proper energizing breakfast, no matter how deep the whiffs I inhaled. And I stopped so many times to frame pictures with my phone’s camera, my excursion grew longer and longer…

Salsify is opening its puffy blooms.

I think the Queen Anne’s Lace must bloom six months of the year. It is already bearing fully opened flowers, as well as these darling younger ones:

When I finally got home, it didn’t take long to satisfy my body’s need for fuel.
My soul had already had a full breakfast!

I am helped to be glad of Spring.

Normally it takes 15 miles and a half-hour to get back from the dentist, but today I added considerably to the length of the trip what with all the U-flipping I did along the country roads, trying to find a place where I could safely pull over and park, near a good view of the mustard fields.

Mustard is ubiquitous right now, I kept telling myself, so why bother? You should be home pruning your own roses. Acacia trees are also appearing like so many suns along every block and mile, but I like the mustard better, especially when it crowds in among the rows of black and twisty grapevines.

Before I’d started home from Dentist Town I walked around being nostalgic. In times past our family would on Sundays drive down the highway to church, through a valley that in springtime was scattered with old trees in pink or white blooms. We made a game of counting those trees – especially the white ones.

When Mr. Glad and I moved to this area 40 years ago I learned what a quince was, and after that, about this time of year the coral-colored bushes always came out and introduced themselves again, dressed exactly like this one that I found today. And look! Even the bee was with me in my blossom reverie. He is just left of center intent on his business.

Rosemary was in flower (photo near top), and in another shape climbed up the wall alongside juniper. I found an old white tree with Miner’s Lettuce at his foot, looking very like the ones we used to tally up as treasures. The hope that my photos of trees and shrubs might be o.k. comforted me when all the mustard views seemed flat and distant.

But it turned out I had a couple of pictures on the camera worthy of snipping and cropping to show you my loves. Until I saw them in two dimensions on my monitor, I hadn’t lifted my eyes to the hills at all, being so obsessed with the lower stretches of terrain. Now I can glean a little comfort from my pictures on another level.

privet berries

It’s been a dry winter since Christmas, and as a farmer’s daughter I find it a challenge to respond wholeheartedly to the greetings I hear daily now, along the lines of “Isn’t it nice to have this beautiful weather?” and “Don’t you just love that Spring is finally here?!” It feels a little scary to leave what is usually our rainiest season behind without getting soaked.

But just because I’m writing on the topic, I did some research and found an encouraging map that gives me some good news: Some of California’s reservoirs are fuller than average right now; a third of them are full to 80% or more of their capacity. Another chart, though, shows that the water content of the Sierra snow is low. Not the lowest ever, but….Things have always been iffy this way for mankind, since The Flood. Sometimes enough water, sometimes flooding, sometimes drought. At least this year the trees and fields are drawing enough moisture from the soil that they can make flowers. The hills are green now…perhaps we’ll even get rain in March and they won’t turn gold and parched too early. I will thank the Good Lord that by His mercy and faithfulness Spring has come again.

Nature comes with sweets

Our city is pretty broke, and you can tell by the changes along the bike path where we often take our walks. Nothing gets pruned anymore. If a large tree branch falls across the pavement, it’s dragged off to the side and left to rot.

privet

Weeds grow up tall and threaten to become a fire danger. Then we notice that they were mostly cut down, apparently by some large machine that doesn’t get the borders of anything.

So to the eye, the landscape is less lovely than before. Not like the countryside, which is normally wild and ungroomed, but like a planted garden that is neglected.

It’s not easy to tell which shrubs were planted decades ago by the city, and which have come over and under the fences of the yards bordering the walkways. The privets are obviously man-planted, and there are rows of the big bushes with hundreds of honeybees drinking at them all right now.

On the last few walks I didn’t notice the raggedness so much because the higher temperatures have brought out the warm aromas of summer, and I was looking around hungrily to discover the source. Mr. Glad and I usually stride along at the fastest pace possible, and I’ve been wanting to get back there by my lonesome to meander with my camera. This morning I did.

There is a lot of this sort of thing, a messy mix of oak, privet, and foxtails. But those foxtails and other grasses are some of the sweetest smells filling the air.

The quietness is lush. Maybe all the children were enjoying the first days without school by sleeping in, or something less wholesome. Other than a couple on their bikes, and one woman walking her dog, I was alone with the songbirds and buzzing insects.

Sequoia sempervirens

Whatever cut the weeds, it threw layers of the cuttings to the side, on top of the desirable plants, jumbling up the scene even more.

But a flowering vine had escaped from a back yard and made a bright spot in the tangle, and the growing tips of redwood trees always look fresh and clean. There are lots of pretty plants I don’t know the names of; I’m happy they don’t pay any mind to property lines.

This is one that makes red berries for us, to decorate the house with at Christmas. Now is the time for it to make heady aromas. Potato vine was climbing over wooden fences…

…And honeysuckle – While I have to keep after the vine in my yard with clippers, so that it doesn’t take over, along the bike path it can do what it wants, and bless my nose every time I get near.

 

honeysuckle

Looking down toward the creek, you can see past the Queen Anne’s Lace the lower road running under the footbridge. I crunched through stickery stuff to get close to the flower.

I went down to that dirt path for a view of the creek, which is not noticeably flowing at this time of year. Horsetail grass and other more watery plants still grow in the mud.

horsetail grass
 

On my return loop I passed the park where our children used to play soccer, and where they claimed their own particular redwood trees to climb and perch in. There wasn’t much competition from the neighborhood children because it’s a prickly business, climbing a redwood tree.

Years after they abandoned their trees the city began trimming the lower branches. I don’t know if that would make climbing harder or easier.

All these soft comforts of a summer morning were better than breakfast. Next time I’ll try to get out the door even earlier for my sweet treats.