Toad in the Hole

October 28, 2006

Late Friday Fall Color Blogging

No, really: We do get fall color here too. The dependable stalwart color-bearer in the wild is good ol' poison oak, guardian spirit of the forest and chaparral.


Mostly, though, fall color here is more subtle. It's the tired tag end of our slowing-down-and-hibernating period. Even the remaining native bunchgrasses are in retreat, and the alien grasses have been dun since June. Buckeyes have been dropping their leaves for two months at least, depending on how close to water they live, and everything's dusty and dried out and exhausted.

Almost everything. There's "California fuchsia," one of this plant's several misnomers. Epilobium canum, my ass; it'll always be Zauschneria californica to me. It's easy to garden with, and along with the woody monkeyflowers (another grump: Diplacus is a useful distinction from Mimulus) it blooms determinedly well into the start of winter, a constellation on roadcut rocks or in tindery grass when my eye really craves a touch of impudent color.


Sometimes, for color, we have to look into the borderlands of the plant realm, where those mind-boggling alliances get made with fungi: lichens.

lichen on sandstone

And sometimes we have to look on the naked rock itself, the seemingly (but only seemingly!) stolid skeleton of Earth that underlies all that vegetable and animal and fungal carrying-on up here next to the atmosphere.

Quarry, Mt Diablo

Posted at October 28, 2006 05:33 AM


these are great shots, ron.

Posted by: kathy a at October 29, 2006 10:17 PM

Ah, yes, autumn in Northern California, and the poison oak has turned to scarlet. It's the safest season for the allergic! It's also so very pretty.

There's a little park in Felton, in Santa Cruz County, called Fall Creek where, the story goes, someone homesick for back east planted a bunch of eastern trees. They still grow and turn color among the evergreens every year. It's a beautiful little place, though not exactly wilderness, having been quarried and logged and then planted over again. It's just up the road from Henry Cowell.

Posted by: Sara at October 30, 2006 04:07 PM

Lovely pictures! After almost 18 years of living in Minnesota, and falling in love with the drama of the seasons, I still get a pang in February when I know the plum trees are blossoming in Berkeley.

Posted by: Joanna at November 9, 2006 11:53 PM

Thank you all. Sara, I'm putting that park on the "Visit!" list.

It took me a little while to get used to the climate here -- I arrived in late June, and was convinced we were in for a great big thunderstorm every time a fog wall showed up on the horizon. But that February blooming stuff, you know that's what has seduced lots of people into moving here. Pink flowers and warmth when the Northeast is snowed under and getting tired of it.

Posted by: Ron at November 10, 2006 04:56 PM

I've just been letting everything wash over me. I just don't have much to say right now, but what can I say? I can't be bothered with anything these days. Such is life. I haven't been up to much lately.

Posted by: Milf Next Door at June 16, 2007 10:37 AM

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