Even though I know many folks are counting down the days until spring, I’m not quite ready for that yet. I’m still enjoying taking morning walks bundled up with a thick coat, gloves, hat, and scarf on. I’m making a cozy fire in the wood stove each evening and cooking hearty dinners. There’s more time to curl up on the couch under a soft throw blanket with a good book and a hot cup of English Breakfast tea or work on an indoor project.
Our winter has been mild so far and its highly likely that if we were having severe winter weather I very well would be wishing for the color and warmth of spring, but instead, I’m seeing gifts.
This month I’ve been appreciating the delicate beauty and peace that winter brings: intricate shapes of bare branches, patterns and colors of foliage, and the interesting elements of the various barks of trees. I don’t tend to notice these things so much in other seasons. I’m smiling over the winter blossoms of narcissus, cyclamen, snowdrops, pansies, primroses, and… in my book, the queen of winter blooms, daphne.
And if that’s not enough, just drop what you’re doing and go outside to take in the splendid sight of the full, blue moon tonight. Two full moons this month! Ahh yes, nature in any season is full of beauty and gifts. We just have to open our eyes.
“Summer’s loss seems little, dear, on days like these.”
On Sunday my husband and I took a break from our outdoor autumn chores and drove the one hour up to the Tahoe area to view the fall foliage. Leaves on our trees at home in the foothills are just starting to put on a show but we had heard that if we wanted to catch the foliage performance in the high sierras we’d better go sooner rather than later. Hiking boots and layers of clothing, a cooler filled with snacks and drinks, our beloved furry companion, check, check, check, and off we went. We chose to hike the new-to-us Cathedral Meadow, near Taylor Creek and a favorite area of ours, Fallen Leaf Lake.
We encountered a perfect fall day with blue skies and warm temps and a whole lotta golden groves of aspens glistening in the sunlight. Beautiful scenery and fabulous views of Mount Tallac all along the trail were free for the taking! I honestly can’t imagine that we could have timed it any better! If you’re in the area, go now!
A short and sweet little break in nature was just what we were looking for. We had the joy of taking care of our eleven month grand daughter this weekend and were looking for a short hike to take her on in a new back pack. We figured we could take turns holding her if she got fussy or didn’t want to sit in the back pack, and decided to go to the Dave Moore Nature Trail near Coloma. We found it to be ideal for our needs. It’s an easy 1.1 mile trail loop, very well maintained, with a canopy of oaks to provide ample shade.
The trail took up past this beautiful madrone tree,blackberry bushes, wild grape vines, some interesting rock formations, and lots of colorful wildflowers.
And on we hiked, right to the south fork of The American River. Here we found a small beach to enjoy for awhile, before carrying on with the trail. In no time at all, we were back at the parking lot, just in time to give our sweetie a bottle and a snack. What a great hike for families with little ones, or anyone who wants a quick dose of nature.I’ll leave you with a little lichen heart along the way that brought a smile to my face. Hope it does the same for you too.
Have you heard of forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku)? Forest bathing was formalized in Japan in 1982, and now is recognized as a cornerstone of their preventive health care and natural healing medicine. Lately, the idea has been spreading around the world.
It’s not about hiking through the forest or counting steps on a Fitbit; the objective is to slow down, be present with all of your senses, and relax among the trees. It’s about de-stressing. Let the trees soothe your spirit.Spending time in natural environments has been linked to lower stress levels, improved working memory, and feeling more alive. Forest bathing has been proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of well-being.
I don’t know anyone who couldn’t benefit from that. C’mon, I’ll meet you in the forest!
Daffy Down Dilly has come to town in a yellow petticoat and a green gown! ~Nathanial HawthorneDriving on a winding country road, and passing statuesque pines, and hills covered in emerald carpet, I thought to myself that this is exactly how spring is supposed to feel. Fresh, alive, and absolutely bursting with blooms! Yes, the drive to Daffodil Hill in Amador County is almost as pretty as the historical ranch itself.Fields of daffodils, farm animals and peacocks greet visitors upon arrival. Meandering through trails you’ll come across’s the original 1880s barn, old wagon wheels, gold rush mining equipment, and antique farm implements. There is no entrance fee, but donations are accepted and there is a small souvenir shop to purchase something special. Daffodil Hill in Volcano has been owned by the McLaughlin Family since 1887. Ancestors bought it from Pete Denzer, who had planted a few daffodils to remember his home country of Holland. The McLaughlin’s continued to plant daffodils through the years, and now plant several thousand bulbs annually. It is estimated that there are 300,000 daffodils blooming now. What a sight to behold!
The generous McLaughlin Family gives us all an enormous gift by opening up their private ranch each year for a few weeks to let the public traipse around the gardens and trails, picnic under shade trees, and soak up all that spring in the country offers. We are undeniably grateful!The stunning photo above came right off Daffodil Hill’s Facebook page. They ask that you check the page or call daily to make sure the ranch is open. Rainy weather closes the ranch until the trails dry out. Make a day of your visit by stopping in the nearby little towns of Amador and Sutter Creek. Both are fun to visit and get a bite to eat.
What a lovely place to celebrate the arrival of spring!
A little preview of spring was in the air when we set out to explore Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park in Saint Helena a few weeks ago. We had driven to the Napa Valley just for the day, planning to shop, wine taste, and eat dinner at a favorite restaurant, but we also wanted to get a short hike in. The weather was warm, trees were budding, the sky was brilliant blue, and a trail was calling!
A short walk from the parking lot took us into the park where we first took an interesting tour of the mill. We learned that the mill was built in 1846 by Edward Bale, is fully operational, and is the sole surviving water powered mill in California. Inside the museum/gift shop, bags of grains (polenta, cornmeal, spelt, buckwheat, rye, and whole wheat flours) that the mill grinds are available to purchase. The park is quite picturesque with a babbling creek, stately oaks, rolling hills, and plenty of picnic benches in the shade. We hiked the peaceful trail that connects to Bothe State Park and even found some heart rocks along the way. I left them for you to find. Go take a look!Along the easy, two mile hike we encountered beautiful scenery. After driving in the car for a few hours to get to wine country that morning, and anticipating more sitting on the drive home later in the evening, this little hike was definitely needed. A bit of shopping, some wine tasting, delicious food, and a lovely hike — everything in moderation (even in the Napa Valley), right?!