Category Archives: Del Norte County

Northwest Winter

A couple of days ago I drove into the valley through the river canyon. After all the rain we’ve had the river was rushing through the canyon grey green and tumbling over rocks.  It was magnificent. The mists were rising above the treeline. The sky was full of steel grey clouds with the sun occasionally peeking through. I had Christmas music playing over the CD player. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The rain started late yesterday. It poured down all night and all day today and will continue through the night tonight and all day tomorrow. I just came back from feeding the chickens and listening to the rain pelting down on the roof of the coop. I had to clean out the drain in the backyard so the little lake that had formed could drain away.

Thank goodness for lots of projects to keep warm and cozy indoors and wait for a break in the rain.

Here is our Charlie Brown Christmas tree. This is a redwood tree grown in a pot that is ok two thirds of the way up. But the top portion has  foot of trunk between the last sets of leaves. So I just wound extra tinsel around to camouflage it a bit. The tree is standing in a pot and held up by a bunch of rocks and some wood wedges but it does lean to the left. I think that gives it a certain panache.

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Rain Finally

The California drought has been very scary, even though I live in the far northwest corner of the state, out of the red zone.  Today the air is warm and humid and seems to be getting heavier by the moment.  Rain should start around 9 PM tonight and get heavy during the night.  That happens very often here.  Before this storm is over we could get over 3 inches of rain.  Hope hope hope this means an early rainy season and a river that rushes through the canyon again.  This is our beloved, wild, undammed Smith River compliments of Jeff Bright:

Smith River webCam_gallery_southFork_JeffBright

Illusion of Safety – Gone Again

As I walk up the lane with my dog each morning I love the view on our left of open dairy farm fields sometimes populated with cows indulging in fresh grass.Image

This is a shot looking up the lane in the direction we walk as we pass the open fields to our left.Image

The woods extend on both sides of the road and total about 20 acres.  Around the bend at the top of the road the lane meanders through the woods with houses interspersed on one acre parcels.  But the woods are a smaller remnant of deeper woods behind the housing development as well as a deeply wooded national park that begins 1/2 mile up the road beyond the dairy farm.

My walk is a joy in the morning with the coolness of the woodsy air as we approach the woods and the sound of the squirrels and birds.  I check how much water is in the stream and what wildflowers are dotting the woods on any given day.

But a couple of weeks ago our neighbors were walking by these same woods in the evening.  A cougar jumped out onto the road ahead of them and stopped and stared at them.  Their 13 year old son raised up his arms and yelled and the cougar disappeared back into the woods.

This was not the first cougar sighting in the general area, but it was the first one I know of that involved the 20 acre wood.

The woods are no less delightful and magical.  But now I approach them with caution and look into the shadows hoping not to see any telltale large catlike movement or a surprise in the road ahead of me. My dog is a 13 lb. silky terrier, seems just the right size to appeal to a cougar appetite.

Maybe I’m tempting fate.  These same woods are also habitat for brown bears.  But the magic of a woodsy micro climate right around the corner is too seductive to abandon.  Besides I can always raise my arms and yell.  Oh, and by the way, I no longer take the path back through the woods as I head home.

Wildfires and Rhododendrons

ImageCalifornia has already had its share of wildfires this spring.  Last evening we had a freak thunderstorm pass right overhead with giant thunderclaps and a short downpour of pelting rain.  Somewhere along the line some lightning set off a wildfire in a remote area of the redwood park that borders the top of our road.  Today has been filled with the sounds of a firefighting helicopter flying overhead about 1/2 mile up the road from our house.  It has a big bucket hanging from a cable.  Apparently the bucket is filled in a nearby lake or river and the helicopter flies back and forth dumping water on the fire.  Between the smell of smoke and the drone of the helicopter one of our dogs has been a bit jittery.  I needed something else to think about, so I thought ‘rhododendrons’.  Image  To divert myself from all the noise I decided to take some photos of our rhododendrons.  They are one of my favorite things about spring in Del Norte County.  Treasures. Image

Along the River

We drove from Crescent City, CA inland to Medford, OR today, a distance of about 110 miles each way.  The first part of the trip out of Crescent City weaves through the redwood forest and follows along the bank above the Smith River.  The Smith is a wild river and along the way we looked down on the confluence of the Middle and North Forks. Image

The water is so clean it really achieves that incredible teal green color like liquid glass.  There were a lot of wildflowers along the way.  One of my favorites is the Pacific dogwood and a lot of them were blooming along the roadside and the canyon walls. Image

There were clumps of purple lupine along the roadside.  The white and purple ceanothus waved in the breeze as we drove by.  The native rhododendrons are just starting to flower.  The wallflowers are a particular shade of orange yellow that catches your eye as you gaze up at the steep banks on the roadside.  Image

It was a beautiful sunny day in the 70s and a way to once again appreciate how spring unfolds in this corner of the world and the pristine place I get to call home.

Spring Bloom

I am enjoying the early Spring bloom on our acre.  This is the native azalea in our backyard. Image

I wish I could convey the sweetness of the smell.  It’s exquisite.  At the front corner of our property is Ceanothus ‘Dark Star’ one of my favorites. Image It also has a very sweet smell and is a magnet for bees.  The lilacs are blooming too and this shot is of my little backyard studio and the lilac studded path leading to it.  Image

If you close your eyes for a moment maybe you can imagine the amazing fragrances from these wonderful flowers and hear the buzzing of the bees………….

Fog

I’m working on liking fog.  I have hated it, gotten depressed by it, wished it away, ignored it.  But this morning there it was again.  This is the treeline I normally see when I look up the road on my morning walk.Image

The open field is a dairy farm and behind those hills is the start of one section of Redwoods National and State Park.  This morning I could not see the hills.  The fog shrouded everything except the very bottom low row of grey green trees and farmhouse.  As I walked up the road I decided to think about someone telling me recently they “love” the fog.  Since it’s a fact of life here it seems I should at least try to like it and come to peace with it.  So I turned off the main road and made my way a few hundred yards to a 20 acre wood.  I felt the coolness in the air.  I breathed in the moisture.  And I thought about how many people would love to be here, fog or not.  And how the fog is part of a micro climate that lets us have magnificent redwood forests in over 75% of this county.  I’m making progress.  And to top it all off the sun came out this afternoon.  Life is good.

Behind the Redwood Curtain

Behind the Redwood Curtain

The forests here in Del Norte County are a reminder of how miniscule each one of us really is in the grander scheme of things. These trees form their own ecosystem and the air is rarified. Being in the redwood forest is being in nature’s cathedral.

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