A Gathering We Go

Setting off on a nature walk in our neighborhood with two of our very young grandchildren.

Look for things Mama will like and we’ll make her a birthday present out of them. If you see anything interesting lets take a clipping of it or pick it up and put it in our pockets.How bout this if it isn’t too pokey?

Yes, my love, what a good idea.Back at home we set all of our collected treasures out on a tray with some twine and a sturdy branch and  begin to select items to tie on to the branch.

That’s it; put your finger right there while I tie the knot. Thank you. Let’s do the next one too. That’s so helpful. Let’s see, a bit of moss, some pinecones, a magnolia cone, and what else? Of course, the turkey feather, the rose hips, some twigs, and the heart rock.  Those are all great choices! Where should we put the ribbons? Oh, Mama is sure to love this! What do you think?And here, hanging from a tree branch in their backyard, positioned right outside the kitchen window, is the nature mobile. I’m sure it brings a smile to her face and brightens her day each time my daughter in law looks out the window.Happy Birthday Danielle!

Making Merry

The last few weeks have flown by with all of the flurry of activities that December brings. There have been parties and gatherings, shopping and making, sending cards, wrapping, baking, and the decorating. Oh, the decorating!

Along with decorating the inside of our home, I do enjoy decking out our porch and other areas of our yard. The arbors and the little foot bridge across our seasonal creek gets adorned with garland or swags. I buy yards of fresh cedar garland at the nursery, but the rest of the fresh greens I use for decorating have been collected either from the yard or out on the trails with my trusty pruners and a bag for collecting. In my book, nature’s treasures make the best decorations!

A little of this,and a little of that,added to window boxes, window sills, baskets, garden pots, watering cans, and vases makes everything so festive and merry. Wishing you the warmth of home, the love of family and friends, and all the deepest joys this Christmas season.

 

Hiking Horsetail Falls

As you’re driving on Highway 50 toward South Lake Tahoe, just before you reach Echo Summit, take a look up to your left (way up!) and notice the breath taking sight of Horsetail Falls.

Starting out early in the day with good friends, we arrived when the parking lot was nearly empty, and set out for a day of laughter, adventure, exercise, and enormous doses of the healing only Mother Nature provides.

The hike is a mix of lovely wooded trails and wide open granite rocks, all along refreshing pools, small waterfalls and streams.
img_1240img_1235img_1239img_1246img_1245img_1254Don’t forget to stop every once in awhile just to soak up the stunning views in all directions.
img_1250img_1270img_1268img_1350img_1274img_1276The majority of the hike is not well marked and we found ourselves in search of the trail a number of times. Also, be prepared to do a bit of rock climbing rather than hiking during some parts of the hike.

Ahh, there’s a cairn. We’re on the right path.img_1267Be sure to notice all the love notes from nature along the way!img_1249img_1248Everywhere!
img_1261img_1258Without fail, spending time in nature is consistently the restorative tonic that fills up my soul! Where do you go when you need to refuel?

Taking Care of Myself

Lately I find myself having to walk away from the news,  turning off the TV. Newspapers pile up on the counter for a few days until I’m brave enough to sort through them. I have all but checked out of some social media sites because of the mean spirited political climate. Don’t get me wrong. I am interested in and want to be informed of what’s going on in the world, and I want to do my part to make the world a better place. But for the time being, in light of the violence, chaos, the constant turmoil and heartache in our world, I now need to take it all in small doses.

I firmly believe that despite the evil we know that exists, it is still an incredibly beautiful world filled with good hearted, thoughtful, kind souls everywhere. There is beauty beyond measure to behold. We don’t need to judge; we don’t need to agree on anything at all to be kind to one another. Let’s extend more compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and love. Let’s work on finding the best in everyone.

As for me, I’m taking care of myself: I plan to keep going on early morning walks with this sweet girl,IMG_0083I’ll keep hiking and  seeking solace in nature,IMG_8265I’ll spend all the time I can with these grand loves, IMG_0524IMG_0020IMG_0450I’ll keep writing, reading, listening to music, baking and trying new recipes, looking for good news, visiting with the wonderful friends and family members I’ve been blessed with, I’ll have morning coffee under the pergola. IMG_0488I’ll keep my eyes open for hearts,IMG_9247and I’ll be in the garden.IMG_0354IMG_0361IMG_0358IMG_0356IMG_0366IMG_0465IMG_0492IMG_0194I’ll be counting my blessings and praying for our world.

Peace to all.IMG_6973

“When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.” ~Minnie Almoner

Table Mountain Hike

Wildflowers? Why yes, indeed.IMG_8777Scenic views? Take a look!.IMG_8798Waterfalls? Yep, and some trickling streams.IMG_8794We weren’t the only ones to think that last Saturday was a perfect day to hike around Oroville’s Table Mountain. We arrived to a full parking lot and once we were inside the gate we saw many people picnicking, flying kites, taking photos, and yes, hiking and exploring.

The North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve is a nature reserve of 3,315 acres. With no established trails, you just make your way through the landscape of vernal pools, small streams, grasslands and woodlands. It’s a flat topped, table-like elevated basalt mesa, likely formed by an ancient volcanic eruption.

Last year at this time we made the drive to Oroville’s North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve only to be disappointed. We expected to see masses of wildflowers flourishing, but actually saw more on the drive than while here because of drought conditions. We’ll try to get here even earlier next year, perhaps mid to late March rather than mid April. We were greeted with a show of lupine and red clover, as well as buttercups and poppies, but have learned that the floral fields are even more abundant earlier in spring.IMG_8776IMG_8770IMG_8805IMG_8775What’s not to love? And the icing on the cake? A found heart rock!
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Love Messages

I’d been up last night quite a bit with some troubles tumbling around in my head, and upon waking in the morning, the worries were still there at the forefront of my mind. I dressed and then leashed up my furry walking companion for our morning walk, hoping I could find some answers or clear my head a bit. The morning was beautiful and I started to feel a bit better as we walked briskly on one of our usual routes.

Lo and behold, right in front of me, throughout the walk I began to see messages. Love messages, I’ll call them. Just when I needed them.IMG_7961IMG_8108IMG_8109IMG_8110IMG_8118Surely this doesn’t solve my problems, but I assure you, it helped immensely and put a smile on my face. Things will be alright. We’ll get through this. Messages received (all of them!) with a grateful heart!

Tribute to a Beloved Mother

Under drizzly skies at dusk, my husband and I drove to Kid’s Inc. in Camino to see the remarkable gift of love from a son to his mother. So touched were we after reading the story in our local newspaper, The Mountain Democrat, that we had to see this sight for ourselves. IMG_6995One of Joan Delfino’s final wishes before her death from cancer, a year and a half ago was for her son to decorate the 60 foot white fir that the two had admired on their property for years.IMG_6994No small feat, after digging a trench for the 500 feet of electric cord, Chris and a few friends used a crane to decorate the tree with 1900 feet of lights, and crowned it with a nearly 5 foot star. What a beauty this is!IMG_6993IMG_6998The tree will be lit through January 1st. Weather forecasters are predicting snow for this area tonight and all day tomorrow. You can bet I’ll be taking another drive in the next couple of days to see the sight of this jewel shining brightly, surrounded by snow. Quite a gift to not only Joan Delfino, but to all of the community. Thank you Chris Delfino, and Merry Christmas to you and your family. I’m sure your mom is smiling down from heaven.

Empire Mine State Park

“Let’s take our hearts for a walk in the woods and listen to the magic whispers of old trees.”  ~Author UnknownIMG_6719If these old trees could talk they’d have many a tale to whisper about. They’d tell stories of life in the mid 1800s, and mining in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Grass Valley during the gold rush and the years following.

Empire Mine is one of the oldest, largest and most prosperous gold mines in North American history. Mining started here in 1850 and continued until 1956. On the grounds are the various mines, machine shop, refinery room, warehouses, offices and blacksmith shop. A distance away from all the mining structures sits the stately English manor cottage that the Bourne family lived in during the summer months (their main residence was a mansion in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights) and the formal gardens. A clubhouse for entertaining and for housing visiting guests is also nearby, as is the gardener’s house and greenhouse. All of this sits on 856 acres of beautifully forested foothills. Woodland hiking trails wind through much of the property.IMG_6734Last Friday, on a beautiful autumn day we visited the park for their Christmas event. We enjoyed the old fashioned decorations, live music, and festive atmosphere as we toured the cottage and wandered the lovely grounds and trails. Costumed docents greeted us and shared park history, and Santa and Mrs. Claus were on hand for the little ones.IMG_6741IMG_6726IMG_6730Special arrangements were made to have the cottage (which is currently closed while roof repairs are being made) open for tours on this weekend. Yes indeed, they call this a cottage!IMG_6727Inside the cottage is quite dark, but have a look at the lovely old fashioned holiday decorations and the gorgeous windows in each room! Just charming!IMG_6723IMG_6721IMG_6720It was in 1975 that the state of California purchased the property and it became the Empire Mine State Historic Park. Check the website for tours, hours, and a wealth of information about the history of this impressive park.

Nests

Nest – a pocket-like, usually more or less circular structure of twigs, grass, mud, etc., formed by a bird, often high in a tree, as a place in which to lay and incubate its eggs and rear its young; any protected place used by a bird for these purposes.IMG_5400 I have an fondness for nests, it’s true. I readily admit to getting excited when I see signs of a nest being built in the nooks and crannies of our porch in the spring. I watch and hope that the nests will be strong enough to withstand gusty winds, and that they will be safe from predators. Just think of all the work that goes into building these little temporary homes that will house and protect  families of birds for a season. It’s so interesting to see the intricate craftsmanship of each one; twigs and grasses, and wisps of fluff for some added softness.

IMG_5396Right about the same time that my second son moved out of the house, my husband and I rented a cabin in Hope Valley for the weekend. We noticed this nest perched up on the roof eave and watched all weekend to see if it was empty or if a feathered friend was using it. Sure enough, it was vacant. Before we left to go home, my sweet husband climbed up and brought it safely down for me. An empty nest for this mama who was grieving through her own transition of an empty nest. Thus, the start of a collection ensued.

IMG_5393Here’s a few more. I keep them on the porch on a vintage baker’s rack. I find some of them, and friends and relatives give me ones they find. Look up in the left corner of this photo to see a hummingbird nest given to me by a friend. It’s the size of half a golf ball, and still attached to its branch.

IMG_5395Here’s one from New Mexico that was at my brother, Jim’s house. Look at the dryer sheets that were used in building this little sanctuary! It was discovered while I was visiting, and we carefully took it down and packed it in a box that would then travel home with me in my luggage. Another came home with me from South Bend, Indiana, wrapped up safely and boxed by my Aunt Lois.

IMG_5394 Because each one is fragile and because they’re outside, they may only last on my shelves for a year or two. I usually have between five to eight at one time.

Each one, a work of art. Each one, a temporary home that sheltered and kept a family safe. Each one, a treasure.

Gift from the Heavens

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.

~Ralph Waldo EmersonIMG_5066 IMG_4894

Isn’t it breath taking? Majestic and mysterious? Sometimes as I’m driving I can scarcely keep my eyes on the road and I have to find a place to pull over and just take it all in. The wonder. The sheer beauty. The magnitude. IMG_3554 IMG_4380 IMG_3557 IMG_3562 IMG_4475 IMG_3567Remember lying in the cool grass as a child and looking at the sky and the cloud formations? I could spend long periods of time searching the sky and finding turtles or unicorns. These days I still notice the sky throughout each day. On my walk with the dog first thing each morning. Looking out my second story office window at home. While  driving (of course, being careful to keep my eyes on the road too!). I see a lot of hearts within the cloud shapes. Not daily, but often. Did you notice them too in some of the photos above? Sweet messages from above. Nature’s awe inspiring glory blessing us. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.