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First day of spring: the green hills of Orange County

March 21, 2011

Inside today, I worked away the spring equinox.

Then, on my way to the parking lot: this late afternoon view of the cloud-darkened Santa Ana Mountains with the foothills shining green across the Saddleback Valley.

By the time I drove over, the last evening glow was fading  over Santiago Creek at Irvine Park . . .

Since it was the first day of spring, it seemed necessary to make at least one wildflower image before all the light was gone. How convenient: a glowing California Encelia along the creekside trail.

(Actually, the flower is lit by my camera’s flash, somewhat muted with a white handkerchief.)

So much rain this morning at 4:30–along with an intense 15 minutes of close-by lightning strikes and drumming hail. Hours later the garden lettuce was still shielding a secret crop of hail peas in its leaf sheaves.

What a wonderful, wet winter it has been . . . and wildflowers are beginning to respond by scattering color in hidden pockets all over the near hills. Yesterday (out without a camera) I saw a vivid congregation of yellow tidy tips and purple chia bowing in the stiff pre-storm breeze on a ridge at Santiago Oaks Regional Park. A few delicate pink mariposa lilies nodded nearby. Another spot lower down the trail had a handful of goldfields next to popping-red paintbrush.  These flowers seemed all the more wonderful because of their lack of numbers.  And all the more sad, because of their lack of numbers.

There are many reports of the earlier grasslands of California being an absolute carpet of flowers. Now it’s more like a throw rug. Or potholder. Which, I suppose, is better than pavement.

Cue the tune “They Paved Paradise, Put Up A Parking Lot.”

(It seems much of my musing begins in appreciation of what there is, ends in angst at what there isn’t. The same cup, half-full of red diamondback rattlesnakes, or half-empty? That’s still a hissing, squirming cup o’ rattlers . . . cheers . . .)

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