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Fall’s first rainfall in the “ragged forest”

November 3, 2014

broken willows

Northwest of Irvine Park several acres of willow thickets line Santiago Creek; the area is aptly named “The Willows.” Sandy trails wind beneath the trees, which creak in the breeze and smell of musty-good green-ness. I’ve seen deer and coyote here, and once some footprints that I were certain belonged to a cougar. During wet winters, the ground disappears under several feet of water, but since rainfall has been scarce these last few years, the trails remain.

The trails remain. How long the willows will last, I don’t know. During the last dry year they have been splitting and cracking and shearing and reducing themselves to stubby trunks, I imagine in an attempt to reduce the amount of tissue they need to keep hydrated (a quick internet search just now yielded no results to back up this theory).

How else to explain what is going on here?

willow trunk split

How else to respond, except with a poem?

In the Ragged Forest, August
Santiago Creek, Irvine Park

No lightning strikes
blasted these willow
branches down to the duff.

The jagged torn stubs
remind me
there are strong forces

at work here:
water, always shaping,
even in its absence.

willow trunk silhouette

In other news: it DID just rain! Which means: mud!

bare feet and mud


Yes . . . that is another pair of feet in the background . . .  they belong to a running buddy from the late 1990s who now runs in Lunas. We had a good chat as we cruised the trails where we had spent so many hours while our sons ran practice with their high school cross country team. Now we are both grandmas, but still both enjoying running, each with our own non-conventional footwear that allows us to chew up the miles with a smile on our face:

bare feet and Lunas


Here’s a shot of what created all these lovely puddles: some hard downpours earlier that morning, even as the sun shone. It reminded me of Harry Nilsson singing in the 60s: “I’m goin’ where the sun keeps shinin’, through the pouring rain” (“Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me”).

rain and toyon berries

Those red berries are a lovely part of our wonderful native toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia).

toyon after rai

Speaking of seeing red: I found this shot on my camera after I’d already posted last week’s race report; it’s a shot of what happened a few days before the race (stubbing my foot on a submerged rock):

bloody bare foot

When your feet are strong and healthy, something like this only takes a few days to heal. Another miracle of barefootedness!



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