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Thursday, March 31, 2011

A chair made out of driftwood

It's a Mendonoma Coast tradition to gather driftwood. Gualala Regional Park is a wonderful place to find beautiful driftwood and it's legal to take as much as you can carry out. But what do you do with the driftwood once you get it home? I've put mine in the garden, where it makes a nice accent piece. A friend has made candle holders and even a plant holder. But my former neighbor's son, Luke, had one of the most creative ideas. He made a chair. It still sits overlooking a bend in Quinliven Creek, a charming invitation to sit a spell.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Forget-me-nots blooming and one of their legends

The charming blue Forget-me-nots are blooming on the Mendocino and Sonoma Coasts in sunny spots. This wildflower has more than one legend attributed to it but the one I like is this one. A knight and his lady were walking alongside a river when he spotted these lovely flowers on the other side. He lept into the waters, made it to the other side and picked some flowers for his lady love. Alas, when he tried to return the waters swept him away. He just had time to toss the tiny blue flowers to his lady, calling out, "Forget me not!"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Old Growth Redwoods - Sequoia Sempervirens

In the forest are 7 foot tall remnants of old growth Redwoods. The Gualala area was logged of Redwoods in the 1880's. The roots of the trees that were taken birthed second growth Redwoods and the stumps became a haven for plants such as these Huckleberry bushes. A few old growth Redwoods were spared in our area because they have a twisty growth pattern. I'll share a photo of one of those ancients in the days to come.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Windflowers blooming on the forest floor - a touch of loveliness

A group of delicate five-petaled Windflowers survived the rains to bloom in the sunshine today. They are also called Wood Anemone and are members of the Buttercup family. I once touched one and it fell apart! So I am careful to admire them from a distance. In the bottom of the picture is a piece of lichen that fell out of a tree during a recent storm. It feels like spring is finally here on the Mendocino Coast today.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hidden grotto in a Redwood Forest

Only when the Mendocino Coast receives significant rain does this hidden grotto come to life. With warmer weather to come, this will soon be gone but in its place will be the lovely wildflowers of spring. The first forget-me-nots have begun to bloom.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A new mushroom appeared - Rosy Gomphidius

The Mendocino Coast has had so much rain recently that most wild mushrooms have given up. So imagine my surprise when I saw a group of rosy colored mushrooms under a tan oak, which was surrounded by Douglas Firs. I picked one and oh, was it ever slimy! The lower part of the stem was yellow. I did a spore print and it turned out dark gray. With the help of my mushroom friend, Bev, it was determined the mushrooms were Rosy Gomphidius.

With warm weather forecast I'm so hoping for another bloom of Horn of Plenty and Hedgehogs.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean or living on the edge!

One of the joys of living by the Pacific Ocean is watching the storms come in. We have two more lined up and then we are promised some warm and dry weather. When the storm let up late yesterday morning, locals headed to the grocery store where we hugged each other and asked how long each other had been out of power. This morning on our walk the beautiful sound of  the song of a male American Goldfinch filled the air. We heard more bird chirps behind us and stopped to let them catch up with us. Soon a flock of Pygmy Nuthatches and Chestnut-backed Chickadees were surrounding us with their calls. Now that's what I call magic time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Surprise in the forest after another big storm

Mother Nature keeps throwing storm after storm at the Mendonoma Coast. For quite a ways out the Pacific Ocean is a muddy brown from all the creeks and rivers that empty into it. There is nothing subtle about the ocean today. You can hear its roar from miles away. On a walk in the forest, our golden retriever, Huckleberry, discovered a large moss-covered boulder had tumbled down a bank onto our trail. A little furniture arranging had been taking place overnight! You can see in the other photo that Quinliven Creek is doing its best impression of a mighty river, running fast and muddy, but oh so beautiful to watch.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Calypso Orchids blooming in untouched forests

One sign of spring on the Mendonoma Coast is the appearance of the Queen of the wildflowers, the exquiste Calypso Orchid. A patch of a dozen or so bloom on a neighboring property in an untouched forest. To find them in the dark duff is like finding a living jewel. Notice the dark green leaf which is flat on the duff. The leaf appears first, then the slender stalk with the orchid flower. It's not very big, so to find one is proof that you are paying attention!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Morning clouds over the Pacific Ocean

The sunrise is reflected on the clouds out on the Pacific Ocean. The Mendocino Coast, in particular Gualala, has been hit with numerous power outages from the last storm and four more storms are lined up before we get a chance to dry out a bit. In this picture you can see the big swells coming straight in. A few hours later the winds shifted in the storm direction and the surface water ran south to north. The ocean was telling all who were paying attention that another storm was on the way. Still, on this morning's walk with Huckleberry, our golden retriever, we found signs that spring really is here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Who's loving all this rain - the turkey tails!

After Saturday night's/Sunday morning's wild storm, Rick and I checked our forest this morning for wind damage. We found surprisingly little though neighbors have big trees down and power is out for many of us still. I saw the first green tips of several Red Clintonias, one of my favorite wildflowers. It doesn't usually bloom until the first of May but seeing the first shoots brings the picture of its lovely blooms to my mind's eye. Along a shady path on a dead Tan Oak we stopped to admire a beautiful group of Turkey Tail mushrooms. This wild mushroom is being studied by scientists for its medicinal qualities. We might have a wonder drug growing wild in the forest! My wonder drug was seeing a large pod of Gray Whales late yesterday afternoon with at least two calves headed north.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Strong storm, power outages, a rare moonbow usher in the first day of spring

A strong storm lashed the coast last night, dropping trees and limbs and causing power outages, particularly here on the Mendocino Coast.  Driving down to The Sea Ranch for breakfast with our overnight guests we saw that the Gualala River was closed to the Pacific Ocean and in flood stage. After breakfast we walked with Huckleberry along the Gualala Bluff Trail, apparently just missing the opening of the river. It was blasting out the north end of the sand bar amazingly, dangerously fast. Oh, are you waiting to hear about the oh-so-rare moonbow? A friend, Laurie, called today to tell me she and her husband were driving back late to Gualala from Fort Bragg in the storm last night. They were near Elk when the clouds parted and the huge full moon made an appearance. To the side of the moon they saw an arcing moonbow in shades of gray and charcoal but also reds and pinks. What I would give to see a moonbow!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Footsteps of Spring

A big storm lurks just off the Mendocino/Sonoma Coast. And Spring officially begins tomorrow despite the wintery weather. A small yellow wildflower with the charming name of Footsteps of Spring is blooming in sunny spots, along roads and paths, giving us hope that Spring will soon grace us with warmer weather.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mother Nature is a Drama Queen

It all started with last Friday's tsunami, which was followed by a big storm. Early this morning the Mendonoma Coast was buffeted with lightning and thunder and heavy downpours. Yes, Mother Nature has been a drama queen lately. A certain golden retriever expects his morning walk and the rain swollen creek was magnificent with cascades. Clouds lifted briefly, giving me an opportunity to scan the Pacific Ocean with my binoculars. Sweet success! A pod of five Gray Whales, one of which was a calf, was seen headed north. I am not ashamed to admit I always get chills when I see whales.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A gift in the forest.

On a walk this morning, with the forest still dripping from an earlier cloudburst, the air was fresh and cool. Huckleberry, our Golden Retriever, led the way and our footfalls were quiet on the wet duff of the forest. A splash of white caught my eye. There! Under a group of Tan Oaks was a White Chanterelle, a gift in the forest.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Huge storm is hitting the Mendonoma Coast

A wet and wild storm is hitting the Mendonoma Coast today. Our seasonal creek is doing its best impression of a mighty river and still the rain comes down. The many creeks of the Mendocino and Sonoma Coasts are emptying into the Pacific Ocean where Gray Whales with the calves are currently headed north. This picture shows one of the many cascades on Quinliven Creek. You can almost hear it roar...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Turmoil in the world, peace and tranquility on the Mendocino Coast

As rain approaches, you can see the swells in the Pacific ocean laid out as if like corduroy. The ocean is in full throat today. While we worry about events on the other side of this beautiful ocean, this afternoon we cherish the warmth of the fire and the nearness of love ones.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A walk in the forest

As storm clouds fill the sky, Rick, our friend Sharon, our golden retreiver Huckleberry and I took a hike in a beautiful Redwood forest. Spring is already making an appearance if you but stop to notice the early wildflowers. They aren't showy - they are Mother Nature's way of making sure you are paying attention. Trilliums, Milk Maids, Redwood Violets, Redwood Sorrel and Windflowers were all blooming. The seasonal creek was a delight for the senses, full from all the rain we've had on the Mendocino Coast.