Tag Archives: wildflowers

Death and Life in Springtime

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Dichelostemma capitatum (Blue Dicks)

Death is working in all of us. Last week death, by means of cancer, parted me from my husband, and I am now a widow. But the separation is not absolute, because Mr. Glad may be more alive than ever, to which truth the scriptures testify by the words of Christ Himself, “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Nor will he and I be separated for long; we will meet in the Resurrection:

P1120755 buttercups
buttercups

 

 

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (I Thessalonians)

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blue-eyed grass

I do comfort and console myself with these realities, while feeling the equally real tearing apart of me and my “other half,” our souls and bodies having been intertwined like a ball of string that is really two cords so closely tangled you can’t identify which strand you are seeing in any part of the thing. If one string is pulled out of the ball, just how misshapen and odd will it be? That’s what I don’t know, and what scares me.

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Common Meadowfoam

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children…

Every member of our family has received huge amounts of grace and joy during the last weeks, and especially in the days leading up to the funeral, which was last Saturday. One friend remarked how sweet it is to die in springtime, the season of new beginnings.crane creek poppies 3-29-15

On Sunday afternoon two daughters took me up into the hills for a walk among the oaks with their tiny new leaves, and to see the first wildflowers coming out. It was a stroll, not a hike, because all of us were quite spent from all the emotion and the activity. And one of us, daughter Pippin, was 9+ months pregnant, so we weren’t attempting a fitness walk.

P1120752 oak leaves
oak leaves

I took a lot of pictures, falling easily back into my old self’s delight in seeing the glories of Creation and making memories of them to prolong the experience. We saw at least two flowers that even Pippin didn’t know the names of; I will try to come back later and tell you, if I find out what they are.

Upon our return to the house the dear baby, whether on his own or by the promptings of his heavenly Father I don’t know, decided the time was right to make his arrival. Someone noted that he is an obedient child from the start, waiting until his parents had laid his grandfather to rest before taking center stage himself. That evening we welcomed a new man-child into the family, whom I will call Jamie.G w J blog

Jamie also showed love to his grandmother by being born in this county instead of waiting one more day until he would have been back in his home town. Not only I, but his two aunties were able to be present when he came swiftly into the light and into our arms. Among other good names, he was given that of his grandfather whom he had just missed in passing.

It’s all too wonderful and mysterious and splendid, don’t you think? It’s Springtime.

Views of Carson Valley

P1100336I remember the first time I saw the Carson Valley in the state of Nevada, and my amazement at seeing lush green hay growing in the shade of the Sierra Nevada peaks, on the edge of the desert. That was at least 30 years ago, and on every visit since then, usually just driving through on the way to somewhere else, I have feasted my eyes and heart on those scenes of quietly grazing cattle, and sagebrush lining the roadways.

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Meadow on Luther Pass

My friend “Rosemary” and her family have recently moved back to the West, and to visit them where they live a little south of the capital Carson City, I drove east through California and over the Luther Pass at 7740 ft. on Hwy 89 south of Lake Tahoe. The pass is named for Ira M. Luther who traveCarsonrivermaprsed the mountains by wagon train in 1854.

 

 

This map shows a much larger area north and east of where I visited, including the whole of Carson Sink as it extends into Nevada and California.

 

 

 

 

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I arrived late at Rosemary’s place because I just had to stop and take pictures of the new-mown hay.

P1100286 Carson Vly hay

And on my layover day my friends took me on a hike up the slope west of the valley, toward Job’s Peak. The skies were black or grey, and we heard threatening thunder, but no rain fell.P1100317 Job's Peak Trail

In just over a mile we had reached the California border. I thought it was very exciting to be standing on that boundary line. Not that we could see the edge exactly…

 

 

P1100331 from state line

This is what we saw looking down from the state line. We had ever-changing cloud shows that afternoon, which made for varying light conditions, too.

The lupines wP1100294 flower crpere finished and had already made thick pods from their flower spikes, but small flowers nestled into the granite gravel, and big bushes of wild roses grew close to the little creek we jumped over.

 

 

P1100351 cloud

The air was so dry, my hair hung limply. Though the sun stayed mostly behind the clouds, it still managed to burn my face and lips. But I felt really good, standing on the side of the mountain with the breeze blowing my blouse.

It was a very happyP1100369 few days, being together with my dear Nevada Family friends. We sat outdoors in the clean and dry, just-warm-enough air for hours catching up on all the concerns of our hearts and minds  — well, as many of them as possible in this short visit. I’m looking forward to another trip over to that lovely Carson River Valley. P1100368

green and blue coastal views

As I mentioned in my last post, we took a short trip down to California’s Central Coast – which we were amused to hear referred to as The North Coast, by those evidently oriented not to the whole state, but to Los Angeles…?

While anticipating the getaway, which was all my dear husband’s idea, I started thinking about the edges of the oceans, and how they give us a certain perspective. If you sit or stand on the shore and look seaward, you have all those millions of people behind you, and before you a vastness of water and sky to soothe the eyes and mind, and to make you think. Why don’t we all constantly gravitate to the coastlands so that we can be philosophers? It must be because we have so many worthy things we are called to DO.

Part of me wants to philosophize in this post, about a score of ideas and realities that are connected in a fascinating way. I could even write a short book for me to read about the ramblings of my mind over the last week, stimulated as it was by books and movies and history and theology that all seemed to relate to our trip.

But I will restrain myself, because I had my time sitting by the shore and now that I’m back inland I need to get on with other things. I won’t want to take the time to read that book anyway, so I’ll just make this a simple chronological report.

It was at Paso Robles on Hwy 101 that we cut over toward the coast, and the hills began to be greener, with even greener fields of newly-sprouted Something scattered here and there. The farms! Of course we have lots of farms in our county, too, but south of us they grow lots of different things and it does my heart good to see it. Thank you, Lord, for sending the rain to green-up the hills that will soon be golden — and brown — again.

Our hotel room in Cambria had a lovely view from the balcony, not just of the ocean, but also of the lush gardens on the property, with some of those favorite plants that I only see when away from home, like proteas and our beloved Pride of Madeira.

Pride of Madeira

The latter is one that we enjoyed many times on wedding anniversary trips we’ve taken, because it blooms in March. This time I told Mr. Glad that we might consider it “Our Flower.”

a protea
town of Cambria from the boardwalk


As soon as we brought in our bags we set off on the boardwalk along the long strand of Moonstone Beach, which appears to have a population of thousands of ground squirrels living under it. They popped up on one side or another every few feet to say hello and beg demurely.

Many benches sit along the boardwalk, too, providing places for philosophers to gaze out at the great beyond. Some had extra, very personalized signs and plaques, screwed into them.

Down below we scrambled on the rocks and found crabs and snails and seaweed in the cracks and tidepools.

All the salt water stands in stark contrast to the drought that is especially bad on the California coast. At our very nice restaurant in Cambria they charged us for water with dinner! Just 30 cents for a bottle, but enough to draw attention to the problem and prevent the waste of all those glasses of water that diners might ignore.

When we left Cambria we drove south and stopped near the town of Harmony to try out the Harmony Headlands trail that cuts through a swath of farmland to link up with coastal bluffs. We could smell the sagey-beachy scent that let us know the ocean was just over the hill, but we never seemed to be reaching a place from which to get even a distant view of it, so we eventually gave up and turned back. On the way back to the car this snake slithered off the edge of the trail. When I followed him into the field he froze and posed.

Neither of us had ever been to the town of Cayucos, which was our next stop. We liked this place a lot, with its casual and less touristy flavor. It used to be a shipping hub in the late 1800’s, and it’s close enough to San Luis Obispo and the college of “Cal Poly” that there were lots of students in town, and surfers to watch as we relaxed on the sand near the old pier.

Cayucos from the pier

At one end of the beach a woman drew in the sand with her foot, to draw attention to a seal pup that was lying like a lump near the shore. I did think it was a lumpy rock, until I saw her circle.

She was also standing guard against dogs who had been bothering the animal that she said was malnourished and waiting for the marine mammal rescue people to come. When a group of school children approached, the pup lifted its head long enough for me to snap a picture.

blue ceanothus, cistus, and CA poppies

Later in the week on our way home I got in more close-up views of some favorite Spring-y color combinations — at a highway rest area!

My tangible souvenirs were three, two rocks and a piece of sea glass, my material Gifts From the Sea. As to non-material and most valuable things gained….I’ll be meditating a long time on that realm of Beauty.

I praise Modoc, and question Jefferson.

Surprise Valley, California

It looks to me like some cowboy lost a piece of his shirt on this barbed wire. I took the picture when we were poking around in Modoc County, “where the West still lives.”

Ten years ago our family met a cowboy who looked like The Marlboro Man himself, as we stood on a hillside watching him lead a string of horses through the sagebrush and across a creek, with pastel layers of aspens and mountains behind him.


This remote and rugged land is one of the areas that has perpetually been found within the proposed boundaries of The State of Jefferson, a longed-for 51st state that would include several counties in northern California and southern Oregon.

The modern Jefferson includes more counties.

Just last month the supervisors of Modoc and also those of its neighboring Siskiyou County voted to secede from the State of California, as the historic movement revs up again.

The Sacramento Bee reported:

[Mark Baird, one of the prominent activists] insists the State of Jefferson is the answer to revive logging, protect ranching and lure new businesses. He bristles at suggestions that these counties need to subsist on social services.

“It’s absolutely infuriating to people up here, this idea that we’re little children and we must have our hands held out,” Baird said. “Well, we would make our own way. We are intelligent, creative, hardworking people, and without the morass of failed social engineering experiments here, we would do fine.”

Barn in Yreka, in Siskiyou County, California

The Modoc county seat is Alturas, a word that means “valley on top of a mountain.” Much of this country is considered High Sage Plateau, with evidently enough water for many cattle ranches and hay fields.

If I hadn’t had a traveling companion to restrict my stoppings, I’d never have made it home for trying and trying again to get the perfect picture of black steers grazing on varying shades of green and yellow-green, with dark mountains behind them.

Nothing close to the perfect shot was to be mine. Either I was not high enough above the grassland to get the sweeping view, or the steers clumped up close to see if I were bringing their dinner, or, in the case of those next to our our motel in Alturas, they ran away when I was still 50 yards from the fence.

Many of these fine scenes were in Surprise Valley, which is even farther east than Alturas, east of Hwy 395, on the other side of the Warner Mountains. This valley’s elevation, if you drive up and down Surprise Valley Road as we did, is above 4,000 feet.

The photo below looks still farther east, toward a band of tan that might be an alkali lake, and up into the Hays Canyon range of mountains that lie mostly in Nevada.

Looking east from Surprise Valley to the Hays Range in Nevada

Besides your typical mountains, you can find the Glass Mountain Lava Flow on the western edge of Modoc County, though it lies mostly in Siskiyou County. On our previous visit we climbed on parts of that “mountain” and brought home huge pieces of obsidian and pumice. Everyone’s shoes no doubt suffered a month’s worth of wear on that terrain.

Glad kids scramble on Glass Mountain.

Murals on several buildings in downtown Alturas express aspects of the region that the residents appreciate. Modoc County has mule deer, herds of wild horses, Rocky Mountain elk, pronghorn, and birds galore. We didn’t make it up to Goose Lake, but the bird mural makes me think of Goose Lake Valley, rich in all kinds of bird life. The painted fowl look as though they could fly right off into the real sky.

At the bottom of the mural you can see landscape such as we also noticed on our way up to Alturas, when the rich farmland gives way in places to slopes on which the soil is evidently too rocky and poor to support anything more than the occasional juniper tree. But the existence of fencing makes me think that in the springtime they might run livestock on the greened-up grass.

juniper trees
Fisherman
Pronghorn

more murals

We ate breakfast at the Hotel Niles in Alturas.

I don’t know about the Jefferson thing. It’s a nice idea….can you believe we have a lot of family who reside in Jefferson counties both in Oregon and California? Probably none of our kin would be found at either of the cultural extremes within the succession movement, but at least one sports a license plate frame on her car declaring “State of Jefferson.”

Nowadays there is a public radio station that claims the name, and people can attend the Jefferson State Hemp Expo, “…founded on the belief that through awareness, education, and the cooperation and coordination of citizens and public officials, many complex social issues can be solved.” Note the emphasis on cooperation, not separation. Separation was formerly the goal of all Jefferson adherents, and a big part of the content of Jefferson as in its nickname “State of Mind.” Currently it does seem that many of the people who use the name don’t really expect anything to come of it. To at least a few it is probably just a brand they use to sell something.

another Surprise Valley view

At the other end of the spectrum, perhaps, are the hunters and most of the ranchers, and the politically conservative. This segment of the populace might include the woman who was noted in the police report column in the Alturas newspaper, which I perused while sitting on the bed in our motel room. She called the sheriff and said that if someone didn’t speedily do something about the dog that was threatening her alpacas, she herself would “dispatch” the dog. I doubt that was the word she used.

Maybe the serious secessionists would include the people who shoot at Belding Squirrels during the Annual Squirrel Roundup. These are a type of ground squirrel that looks like a prairie dog, and their large populations damage the cultivated fields (I’m guessing it’s by their holes and tunnels?), so once a year the residents hold a big fundraiser/pest-control event.

The giggling squirrel-shooter in this video I ran across is embarrassing, but you could turn off the sound, try to ignore the squirrels flying into the air, and see some nice footage of Surprise Valley in the background. The Roundup is held in March, so you will see less yellow and brown than in my pictures. If you make it to the very end you’ll be rewarded with a view of Mount Shasta, something that would not be possible from down in Surprise Valley. The moviemaker must have driven back over the pass to the west at the close of day.

The likelihood of all these diverse Jefferson people agreeing to secede seems slight to begin with, and that’s not the only challenging aspect of the project. Perhaps the nickname The Mythical State of Jefferson is the most appropriate. Whatever you call it, I do love this country.

On Cedar Pass, between Alturas and Surprise Valley