Tag Archives: Sacramento River

Romantic rocks in the head.

A long time ago I read that the forces in play in a highway accident are so powerful that you can be killed by something as insignificant as a Kleenex box flying from the back seat to hit you in the head. I always think about that when I am loading rocks in my car to carry home from anywhere. I already had my car stuffed full when I picked up these rocks on my way down from the lake, so I tucked them in the space behind boxes and bags just inside the hatchback. Smaller stones were back there, too, in paper bags. Would that be romantic or what, if I were killed by a stone I had gathered myself from the mountaintop or stream?

You may say in response that I have rocks in my head.
Is that similar to having rocks on the mind? Because that I admit to.

There is nothing so pretty as succulents and rocks together. Big rocks for the in-ground succulents — and other plants — to drape themselves on, and little stones, preferably flat, as I understand, to lay on the soil in pots of succulents.

You can see that I didn’t have any small flat stones last year when I potted these plants, so I had to use whatever I could find, including mussel shells. Today I saw this pile containing several stones that would have been perfect, and I don’t remember why they are there or why I didn’t have them when I needed them. It’s this kind of forgetfulness that makes me want to bring home more every time I visit a Good Rock Place. Stones seem to be easy to misplace.

The Sacramento River and its tributaries are excellent sources for nice smooth stones. I’ve collected there several times with the Professor and Pippin. This one was first admired by my late husband at the confluence of the Sacramento River and Castle Creek in 2014. He jokingly called it a Confluitic Rock, and we brought it home; it’s still here somewhere in my garden, but a plant may be hiding it right now, large though it may be.

My largest rock is this one below, which my brother lifted out of the lake bed and put in his pickup, 15 or more years ago, to carry it up the hill and to our car. I let my toes be in the picture for size comparison.

This week I gathered the best rocks from the dry bed of the winter stream that crosses the road, downhill from the cabin a ways. In this picture you can see in the upper left that there is still some water standing, though none is running across the ford at this point.

Lora and her mother helped me collect small stones from in front of the cabin last week, and combined with the ones I picked up on my own the last day, they make this new pile in my utility yard:

Other than Raffi’s mention of “a little wee stone” in a shoe, I don’t know of any songs about stones that aren’t about stony hearts or love on the rocks, and other such negative connotations. It seems to me there should be a jump-rope song that goes like this:

Rocks in the car,
Rocks on my mind,
Rocks in the head,
Rocks in my H-E-A-R-T!

I explore the north country.

Yes, another road trip! My first stop, as often works out best, was at Pippin’s. The children doted on me and I on them, and well, I like the parents a lot, too!

I drove through the rain the last couple of hours of my first day, up through the top center of California, and arrived in town just in time to catch the last ten minutes of Ivy’s ballet lesson. She is a beginner ballerina but was fun to watch.

Everyone was surprised that all three children and I could spend so much of the next morning coloring pictures I had brought, as we watched birds at the feeders. We colorers chatted about how it is way more fun to do coloring with other people, and we were proving the principle.

Between rain storms and frost the next two days we went on a couple of splendid nature walk expeditions, first to Lake Siskiyou where the Sacramento River comes into it.

Pippin remarked at this point, “From here we tend to make slow progress because there are so many rocks to look at.” Indeed. And to bring home!

Indian Rhubarb

On my second morning I stood at the kitchen window while eating my breakfast bowl, and watched four deer eating their breakfast of willow leaves off the back lawn.

And that afternoon found most of us along the Sacramento River Trail near Castle Crags. The last time I’d been here my husband was still feeling healthy and we were here together with Pippin’s family.

This time was lovely, too, nearly four years later, during fall instead of winter, with bigleaf maple leaves covering the paths, oaks and firs and Port Orford Cedars and more kinds of trees…. The children had a ball on the rocks jutting out into the river and Scout named one spot after me: Pearl Point, because I had told him the day before that Gretchen means little pearl.

Jamie was missing his nap but you would never know it by the way he marched along the trail and climbed cheerfully for hours up and down banks and over countless large river stones.

On our drive back home Scout’s mind was busy planning the evening’s activity and chattering about all his ideas. His mother and I were not enthusiastic about the first ambitious projects he came up with, so he said, “Well, then, Grandma, what would you like to do?” It shows a developmental leap, I think, that he was showing this willingness to consider what other people’s preferences might be.

I thought a bit, and answered, “I would like to do something that wouldn’t require thinking or talking, or being on my feet.”

“Is reading considered talking?”


“Well, then, would you like to read that book about Kit Carson that you gave me for my birthday?”

I surely would love that, and I read three chapters while dinner was being prepared by other people on their feet, and Scout colored another picture while he was listening.

Now I’ve moved on to Oregon, where Walt has found and started restoring the truck he was only dreaming about back in September when I was here.

Oregon trees and their knock-out gorgeous fall colors
are competing for my designation of Favorite.

So far I think I like the last one best.

I’m not halfway through this road trip. Before I get home I’ll have slept twelve nights not in my own bed. I’ll have seen five friends and ten family members, staying in five homes. It does feel like a little much for an old lady, but I’m enjoying myself and will try to check in at least once more to tell you more about my northern adventures.


Evening fire by the river.

Scout's map 5-15On outings with Pippin’s family, I insisted on sitting in the “way back” of the van they call Batvan. That way I had a close-up view of the map that Scout had made, which he used to show me the route from my house to his house to Montana to the river…this map covers just about anywhere you might want to go – or at least, where he wants to go.

I had (all without any map whatsoever) just arrived inbilly bluesage book my car Billy Bluesage via Pathfinder’s place in Oregon (home of Annie the photographer) in Siskiyou County where this family of my middle daughter lives. It was their baby Jamie who was born the day after his grandpa’s funeral, bless him. I have posted many pictures of their place and environs over the years, here and here, and here for example. P1130472

The first morning I woke up I took some pictures off the balcony of the room in which I had slept. It’s nearly 4,000 ft. elevation there and the chill still comes on in the evening at this time of year, but I had been cozy in my flannel, under a down comforter. The lows had been predicted to be in the 30’s F°. Tomatoes must be kept under cover for a few more weeks.

During that day I guess we mostly got ready for our picnic-and-campfire outing that was to be that evening. I must have been very lazy. I saw some deer in the back yard, but I never did go out and take the tour of Pippin’s garden. A fire was burning in the wood stove and I was like one of the cats liking to hang out in that room.P1130557


While the sun was still up and the sky blue, we packed all our food and baby gear and The Professor drove us to a spot on the Sacramento River where the North Fork comes in. You’d never dream that this little stream goes on to gather water from tributaries for more than 400 miles to become the longest and largest river in California.

The map below shows its course; we were sitting near the top where the two lines come together from the left, the North and South Forks of the river joining in a happy song running over the granite stones. Sacrivermap1

Anyone interested in a more thorough explanation and less reduced graphic of these Sacramento River headwaters would do well to check out this blog post I ran across, which almost makes me want to put on my waders and go slogging through the waterways, further up and further in to the highest lakes and springs.

Almost. But realistically, who I am is this sluggish woman in the photo below, standing in one place as I look out at the little North Fork across the way, and wishing Mr. Glad were with us, or that he would be waiting at home for me, and I would soon be with him again and telling him what I saw and learned. Many of my joys on this trip were muted by not having him to share them with. He loved looking at maps, too, and planning trips to new places.

G meditate by Sac 5-15 hms


Well, this was a new place for me, and I did love it. What is more refreshing than being on the brink of frothing waters and breathing the clean air they stir up?

The older children scrambled over the boulders to find the best stones, and threw hundreds of rocks of different sizes into the river; they are hard workers when it is that much fun, and every rock plunging in plays a different note and tone.

It was cold – brrrr – and some of us added layers to the fleeces we already had on. I had been wearing a turtleneck with a chamois shirt I inherited from my husband on top of it, and I soon added a fleece jacket. Pippin and I took turns with a blanket that looked like something an Indian squaw would have appreciated down there by the river at night. Scout leap Sac R 5-15

Scout and Ivy hopped and leaped and only fell a few times; they never cracked their noggins or landed in the river.

Notice the matching John Deere boots? I don’t know how they can navigate the rocks in those!

< Scout didn’t fall that time.     P1130540

Pippin and I took lots of pictures of veins in rocks.

Sac R veined slab 5-15

The Professor took pictures of his family and larger landscapes. The sun set and we lit our fire. We ate wraps and chunky s’mores.

the whole crew Sac R 2015-5 cbs P1130592

The light faded from the sky, but the firelight made it possible for Pippin and Jamie to look into each other’s eyes adoringly.

We didn’t really want to go home, but there was not a comfy place to sleep, either, sooo… We got out our flashlights and headlamps and picked our way over the stones back to Batvan. The grandma waited in the car with the children while the parents loaded up, and then we drove back home, so refreshed and worn out that we were quite content.

wintertime loves

We in the arid parts of the West have been exulting in rain the last week or so. It’s so comforting and even glorious to wake in the night and hear the rain still coming down. Then to wake in the morning and see it is still falling. We had puddles in the back yard! Thank you, Lord!

Mr. Glad and I do live in northern California, but daughter Pippin lives even farther north in the state, and we drove there early this week for a short visit. Often February is a very snowy month at her place, but this year they’ve had more dry weather and rain than snow, and even the rain stopped while we were there, so we could get outdoors easily for work and recreation.

One day we made a family project out of pruning old apple trees that Pippin and The Professor are trying to revive from years of neglect. I floated back and forth between lopping branches and swinging the kids.

I would get Scout and Ivy going and then run over
to take a picture of the adults on ladders.

Another day we took a short trip to Castle Crags State Park and walked a trail alongside the Sacramento River. Considering the dryness of this year, I was amazed at the thick moss and ferns.

 A pale green, almost white lichen grew on rocks and tree stumps.

yew trees on the riverbank

Everything was wet from the recent rains, and many times our feet slipped on the invisible mosses — or was it algae? — growing on wooden bridges or river rocks.Ivy practiced throwing pebbles into the river, and once she got the hang of it she did not want to do anything else. The supply of rocks was endless.We went to the confluence of Castle Creek (in the foreground below) and the Sacramento River, from which you can get great views of the jagged rocks above, called the Castle Crags. They are high enough that the recent precipitation there was in the form of snow, and some was still unmelted and visible.

My dear husband showed me this large and artsy rock, which you can also see in the photo at the very top of this post, in its original setting. I wanted to take it home. It was a little too heavy for me to carry, so The Professor hauled it back to the car. It came with us on our journey home and is now living by our house. Mr. Glad classified it as a confluitic rock. 🙂

Winter days are short enough that at the end of our busy days there was plenty of time for cozy gatherings in the kitchen or by the wood stove. I read many books to the children. Scout’s current favorite, which I read about on a blog before Christmas and gave to him, is Bumblebee at Apple Tree Lane, and we read it several times.

Ivy likes The Little Fur Family best right now. We danced to the children’s favorite recordings, and also listened to bird calls on the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs CD. After ten minutes of loons and other waterfowl, Ivy must have deduced that those bird songs were some kind of dance music, too, and she started twisting and prancing around.

Hot soup is what you need on a winter’s night, so Pippin and I learned how to make French Onion Soup, using the recipe in The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. The secret that the Cook’s testers learned is that red onions give the best flavor. Our result was sooo good.

And cookies! Pippin had some dough left in the freezer from her Christmas Peppernuts, the recipe that I concocted a long time ago but haven’t made for years. We like our nuts to be nut-sized, so we always cut the frozen dough into little cubes and bake them long enough that they come out crispy. Next Christmas I’ll give the recipe.But for now, since I do love cookies, they make a good ending to my story of a wintry family visit that was warm and sweet.

peppernuts 13-14