We have also spent a fair amount of time walking out into the woods, which would be impossible in most years. Our ramblings take us up small hills, down logging roads, past rocky outcroppings. Old snowshoe hare tracks caught M.’s eye on a walk up Dead Dog Hill, and she decided to make what she called a “Rabbit Catch.” The idea was that if she collected some enticing food items for the hare and set them out along with a soft place to sleep, she would be able to hide and observe the hare when it came by to nibble and rest.
I followed her direction as we collected dried out manzanita berries and evergreen leaves from greenleaf manzanita plants (Arctostaphylos patula), a miniature bouquet of coyote mint flowerheads (Monardella odoratissima), and tufts of chartreuse wolf lichen (Vulpia sp.) These were all carefully arranged on rocks and sticks in a small hollow that M. thought looked just right for a hare to inhabit. We have returned to check on her set-up, and so far there are no takers. I love that she has learned to navigate from our house right back to the same spot. I watch as she follows a logging road, peels off at a skid trail, climbs past a feature she has called the “Sitting Rocks”, and looks for three small firs that mark the spot.
Dried manzanita berries
Old coyote mint flowerheads — I never noticed how pretty these are, with their downy white calyces still attached to the plant.
Filed under Local, Winter
Adventure is relative when you’re three, and for my daughter, an hour-long excursion to the lakeshore via the Lake Almanor Recreation Trail certainly qualified. While M. was out cutting wood with her Papa, A. and I had a rare excursion together, just the two of us. The path twisted through dense forest and at times was barely visible under a dense carpet of needles. I trotted along on foot beside her, providing emergency braking on the downhills, and a few pushes on long uphills. We walked out to the lake on the far end of our journey. As always, A. filled her pockets with treasures, including feathers, fuzzy mullein leaves, and snail shells. The reward for her efforts? Whole-grain waffles, fresh-baked quiche, and hot cocoa at the Lakeside Cafe in Hamilton Branch. Yum!
Filed under Fauna, Local, Winter
Filed under Local, Winter
Yesterday I walked along the Susan River where it winds behind Susanville east of the old Sierra Pacific mill. The water has certainly receded from its peak during the past week’s rainstorms, but the high water mark was still evident in a horizontal line of plastic bags that caught up in the willows when the river flowed high. This stretch of river never quite looks pristine, and the high water event has suspended and exposed the litter problem for all to see.
Out to Mountain Meadows yesterday evening to mark the passage from summer to autumn. I am happy to be at this fulcrum; to begin the tilt toward winter. Our summer fairly burst with hard work and play as we spun off in a million different directions to drink in the light while we could. We endured the frantic summer schedules of a botanist and a forester, where we must accomplish much work within the limited window that summer offers.
And now, I am ready to retreat, to pull back indoors, take a few deep breaths, and await our seasonal return to slightly simpler days. A crackling woodstove, extended evenings, falling snow.
The wildfires near us have at last abated, and we can venture out into our forests under clear blue skies. This morning, we made a family trip up to Silver Lake, at the edge of the Caribou Wilderness.
This was M.’s first fishing trip, and she was elated that this long-awaited moment was coming to fruition. And if the sheer prospect of fishing weren’t joyous enough, her new fishing pole is PINK. Oh, this was happiness squared for my daughter. M. took the whole fishing business very, very seriously, and hung on to every word of her Papa’s tutelage. Cast, wait, reel, repeat. Though the morning was windy and hopes of success slight, she patiently waited for her first bite out on a rock in the water. Meanwhile, A. and I found plenty of shoreline fun following deer tracks, watching the yellow jackets hover at waterline, and building tiny rafts from twigs and sedges.
M. and Papa failed to coax even a nibble from the fish of Silver Lake. No trout will grace our dinner plates tonight, but M. wants to go fishing again, so in that respect, the trip was an unqualified success.
The swimming hole that we visited last year? Well, it’s scarcely a wading pool this summer. Without much of a spring snowpack to feed it, Robbers Creek is running very low. But as the day dawned clear, we were determined to get OUT while the skies were relatively smoke-free. We took the back way, through the woods, and across the highway. M.found the fresh berms from recent logging operations much to her liking as tackled them on her bike. My two-year-old surprised me by trotting along at a quick pace the entire way.
Once at the pool, the girls found plenty to catch their fancy. They hucked rocks in the pool, and dissected leaf galls on a willow shrub (Salix lemmonii) to find the tiny larvae inside each. We spread out a picnic blanket in the shade of a lodgepole pine and sipped on juice. On the way out, M. forded the creek on her bike, quite pleased with herself. Not much left by way of a floral display, but there were a few Douglas’ spiraea (Spiraea douglasii) in full flower along the creek. A few hours later the smoke descended, and we holed back up indoors.