Used to hardwood forests, pine trees, pine cones, evergreens, and non-deciduous plants still seem miraculous, more so in snowy areas. In California, plants for the most part retain their leaves throughout the year but become a dusky color. We also have pine trees, native and imported. Seldom do we find pine cones that are as grand as this one, nearly a foot long, and not chomped up as a tasty treat by the local squirrel gourmands.
The prickly pear cactus is a beautiful plant. Paddles of green rise up from one another, and the flower buds appear on top. The buds are the “pears” and are very tasty! The paddles of the plant (which are really trunks and branches, with the thorns for leaves) are also quite edible. The paddles are cut off, quite carefully, and held over an open flame to remove the thorns. Once done, slice and stir-fry. Very good in scrambled eggs.
Personally, I like looking at them more than harvesting them!
I’m trying to reclaim my life in some ways – the hours I’ve worked have been awful, and since changed for a bit more humane schedule. So, to reclaim my life, it means I cannot let the whiney, lazy me take over and say, wah, not enough time! This morning, up at 6, coffee, pulled on my stinky clothes from yesterday, and went out, film cameras and phone in hand. What a delightful thing to do! No one around . . . the birds were singing their mating songs (especially lovely were the mockingbirds) and flitting about. Everywhere, the pungent scent of the chaparral’s resinous plants. The sun was still low in the sky. As I walked, I looked, and saw . . . a wild rose in bloom . . . quails running for cover . . . mourning doves within a few feet of me. A slice of heaven!
I cannot recall the name of this flower, but it is large and tall if I remember correctly, part of a stalk of flowers. The symmetry and curves of the petals are what catch the eye.
I always enjoy seeing the sandstone boulders and rocks in the Santa Monica mountains. How do they get the way they are? Who or what positioned them? These look as if they were cast down the hillside by some giant hand . . . These are yellow and red and make a wonderful background for the foliage and weeds of the chaparral.
Foxtails are the seeds of a local wild grass. They are sharp and pointed, and manage to disperse themselves on the winds or by transportation. They can work their way into your clothes without your knowing it, are uncomfortable against your skin, and seem to work their way into everything. If you have a dog, keep it out of the foxtails – they have been known to bore into skin and cause infections. Not pleasant to be around, but they are really lovely backlit, with their slender stalks and foxtailish shape.
Oh, how much easier it would have been to get the view by road! Instead, a steady uphill slog of about a mile, with twists and turns and changing views. The pool of water in the distance is a reservoir, and it looks pretty good from here. Others in the area could be dried out in four years, and then what will we do for water? Even now, with rain in the forecast, California is still suffering from the effects of a long drought and poor water regulation. And climate change.
This morning we went on a rather strenuous hike – up and down hills to get to an inland section of the Santa Monica Mountains. I am not a fast hiker – rather plodding actually – because of a long history and experience with falls and broken bones. Every step is conscientiously placed, especially where there is scree and loose rocks. The flowers along the way provided excuses to pause . . .
Having a phone camera can be rather nice . . . not always the best shot, but sometimes the most candid and discreetly taken. Everyone has a cell phone, and everyone has cameras in their phones (for the most part). In bad light, blur; in good light, glare. And in perfect conditions, sometimes it is nearly impossible to tell it was taken by a phone.