Tag Archives: salsify

The sun and a spider mite.

The sun up above does feel like the ball of fire it is, today when the thermometer stands at 100 degrees. Summer caught up with itself and arrived with stored up (solar) energy!

It was too late to take a walk, on a day like this, but I did it. Maybe it was the heat that made the phrase “ball of fire” come to my mind as I watched a spider mite racing around on a blackberry flower, never stopping. What can a mite accomplish if it never pauses? It’s the little smudge appearing in a different spot in each of the shots below.

I also looked at the bees and flowers. I saw a syrphid fly and had to learn all over again when I got home that it was not a bee. In the process I learned that in the United States alone there are 4,000 species of bees. Here is another insect I don’t know… Is it a wasp or a fly? At least, I know it’s not a bee. [A year later, my Seek app thinks it’s a Western Paper Wasp.] (below)

I also can’t remember what this shrub is that all three insects are posing on. [So fast! My first commenter reminded me that it is cotoneaster.] Maybe I never have known. But I didn’t really want to spend today doing insect or plant identification. I need to wash the dishes and strip the bathroom floor! So if any of you know about my insect or shrub perhaps you can tell me.

syrphid fly

Most of the salsify have scattered their seeds, but some flowers are still opening.

Mustard plants eight feet tall are growing out of the drying-up creek, along with lots of thistles. What is that orange spot that catches the eye…? Not a piece of trash, surprisingly, but California poppies! I’ve never seen them down there before.

All of this life, in many colors, pushing forth. I wondered… if I focus my camera on one small part of the very ugliest thistle, might I see something pretty? I did:

Last night at church we had a thanksgiving service for a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. When the husband retired from being a professor and a full-time Orthodox priest in Michigan, they moved from Michigan to California to be near their children. The wife said it was as though she had died and gone to heaven. 🙂 Since then they have been part-time participants in three parishes, and from all three of them people came to congratulate and rejoice with them.

I had been to only one other Moleben of Thanksgiving ever before, which was prayed for my husband and me in thanks and praise for God’s faithfulness during our 40 years of marriage. That was already seven years ago! This service was a joy – I was so happy to be part of it and to pray with them.

I had mixed up the time and arrived an hour early, which was kind of nice because I got to chat with the husband and his son a bit. The son was getting the barbecue ready for the party that would happen after the service. We were enjoying the shade of this beautiful catalpa tree whose flowers smelled like the fancy dessert was baking in the oven nearby. But this picture shows what my daughter told me about iPhone cameras, that they distort the sides of the image. Do you see how the buildings on the sides are both leaning in? Okay, now go back and enjoy the tree.

Before I go to my housework, I will have a tall glass of water, and before that, I’ll give you a little lotus weed in warm summery tones. I’ll meet you back here on a slightly cooler day.

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:



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!

The nature of my neighborhood.

bike path cb rose 5-15 On the paths that crisscross my neighborhood, there are wild things down by the creek, and tame things that hang over the back yard fences. This Cécile Brunner rose was a welcome sight; I stopped for a spell to pull a branch down to my face and sniff. We removed our own C.B. not long ago so I’m thankful to share this one, glad the owner doesn’t mind, or doesn’t notice, it trailing in a friendly way over the fence.

bike path new redwood 5-15
Coast Redwood



I’m trying to try, to resist my sedentary ways and go for more walks in the neighborhood, just normal brisk walks — or slower if my camera is along — of the sort humans have liked to do in many times and places, before the days when so many of us had gym memberships.

bike path bridge 5-15








After passing by several tall Coast Redwood trees with bright new needles, about five minutes from my house I come to a bridge across the creek. It crosses right where two creeks come together, right in the middle of town.

bike path low road by creek 5-15

From the bridge there’s a view of the unpaved path closer to the creek, where you can walk free of bicycle and stroller traffic.

bike path potato vn 5-15


Roses, honeysuckle, figs and potato vine hang over the fences at various points.

This fig tree used to dangle its fruit lower down where I could actually eat some in season, but now it’s too tall.


bike path fig against sky 5-15

Where the path intersects a major road I like to look down from another bridge to see this lush growth in the creek bed. After the creek bed dries up in the middle of summer, the fennel and blackberries and willows will still be making it green down there, and eucalyptus trees will hang over the paths for shade.

bike path down into ck from sl

When I turn around and cross to the east side of that road, I can look up toward the hills that are the source of those creeks. On this morning the fog was staying late up there, so you can’t see the tops of the hills.

Sn Ln view overcast 5-15

But in this next picture you can see the line of trees revealing where one creek runs down.

Sn Lane creek view 5-15

Sn Ln giant rose 5-15



There’s a giant old rosebush at the edge of the field, which makes some lovely blooms in spite of being neglected by men.



Sn Ln giant rose bush indiv 5-15

bike path salsify May 15

I’ve seen two varieties of salsify along the path this spring — or at least two colors. A mountain woman friend of mine used to dig salsify roots to cook for a vegetable, but I never think about that plant until the flowers are blooming, at which point I’m pretty sure the roots would be tough.

My walking loop brings me past the neighborhood school and park, where our children used to climb these redwood trees — no mean feat — in the days before the city started trimming off the lower branches.

bike path morning May 15

And then I’m passing by that first bridge again, and almost home. If I haven’t stopped to take too many pictures, it’s only taken me an hour.

bike path lavender vine 5-15