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Is it wrong to brag about your home?

February 26, 2013
Where the trail leads: to oaks and sunshine . . .

Where the trail leads: to oaks and sunshine . . .

Southern California was the center of attention two days ago because of the Oscars; I would contend that the millions of people from around the globe who watched that spectacle of good looks missed the true beauty of our area: as part of the California Floristic Province, it’s one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, with thousands of species of plants (as well as many creatures) found no-where else on the planet.

And in my corner of it all, northeastern Orange County, there are miles of trails to enjoy the native grandeur, with or without shoes. (Disclaimer: of course the habitats have been impacted by centuries of “progress”, but still . . . much remains to be appreciated and preserved.)

Since our last rain a week or so ago, the days have been steadily warming, with 80-degree+ temperatures forecast for the weekend. But yesterday was already brilliant, in many ways, which inspired this poem and the photos that follow:

February Heat Wave in the Foothills

Eighty degrees of separation
from our mid-west friends
with all their stuff to shovel
out from under
means we cannot speak
our winter secret:
how lupine swing their violet hips
to the golden tune of fiddlenecks
while a California thrasher courts us all
from his perch atop the glistening laurel sumac.

“lupine swing their violet hips” (along the Mountain Goat Trail in Santiago Oaks Regional Park)

"to the golden tune of fiddlenecks"

“to the golden tune of fiddlenecks” (Irvine Regional Park)

"while a California thrasher courts us all"

“while a California thrasher courts us all / from his perch atop the glistening laurel sumac” (Irvine Regional Park)

My favorite (since they’re the easiest to drive to) trails are those in Santiago Oaks and Irvine Regional Parks, and the Barham Ridge trails that connect the two parks. There’s a trap door spider nest hidden in plain sight along one trail; I check on it after every rain, thinking that one of these days it will erode away. Not yet . . .

A trap door spider's trap door front door . . .tiny critters beware . . .

A trap door spider’s trap door front door . . .tiny critters beware . . .

After the last rain, we had some significant wind, which scoured the trails of any dust padding and left lots of rocks to test my soles:

Sunset toes on the rocks...

Sunset toes on the rocks…

Hooray for Hollywood? How about hooray for the native plant that Hollywood was named after?

Our native "holly" -- toyon or

Our native “holly” =  toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)

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