Toad in the Hole

December 03, 2006

The Writing on the Wall

Speaking of natural grafitti:

blackberry sprawl

We were strolling in a wetland yesterday, a great mix of tidal, brackish, and fresh. The freshwater gathering places here are still waiting for the big rains, though the plants are already getting enough to be a little happy. It's an interesting ambivalence for someone like me who will get gloomy when it's all big gray lid overhead and no sunshine. This place still needs rain, and I feel its still-unslaked thirst in my skin and bones.

These little logs will be underwater again, one hopes, in a month or two, in the company of the rainpools' evanescent lives.

galleries, grass

galleries, shadows, splits

And the thirsty ground, already changed by having tasted water in plenty,

caught color

seems to beg the impassive distant blissful sky for more, now that it's time.

Posted at December 3, 2006 06:14 PM


You've got me looking for natural grafitti everywhere now. :)

Posted by: Rurality at December 3, 2006 11:21 PM

Hey, you started it!

Kinda fun, too.

Posted by: Ron at December 4, 2006 04:23 AM

wonderful photos!

the blackberry -- i think i agree with the theory that there is one enormous mother blackberry vine under the entire east bay. the shoots come up fast and strong with any rain, in any area where they have grown before. nice in open areas, and a menace in parts of the yard.

the wormy-looking, almost carved surface of those logs is lovely. how does that happen? i'm just guessing that water, friction, and time wear away outer layers, and the carving really is from worms or some such, tunnelling through.

can you reveal where you took your trek, finding a stream and brackish water and tidal wetlands? really, i'm wondering about the creek. there are just not that many around here running natural courses for any distance that i know of, although there seem to be several restoration projects.

Posted by: kathy a at December 4, 2006 06:40 AM

Ron, I LOVED your comment, "This place still needs rain, and I feel its still-unslaked thirst in my skin and bones."

You're right, it's winter, we're supposed to have rain here in the Bay Area. But then my favorite season is winter, and my favorite lighting for taking photos is rain.


Posted by: Sally at December 4, 2006 08:37 PM

Very pretty, Ron. Thank you.

I want to know how those logs achieve that particular texture, also.

Posted by: Sara at December 5, 2006 01:24 AM

The stuff on the logs is beetle galleries -- beetle grubs eat along the sapwood while the tree's alive, and when the tree dies and the bark peels off you get to see their little grubby autobiographies. I suppose there'd be an exit hole through the bark at the end, and some sort of egg-deposit hole at the atsrt. I'ce seen them where (I guess) the beetle mom laid a bunch of eggs, and the grubs' trails branch out from there like a palm frond.

Kathy, that's not so much a creek as a pool -- sort of a vernal pool, I guess.

Posted by: Ron at December 5, 2006 01:34 AM

If you want to see what inspired those log shots, go click on Sally's link up there and see the stuff she takes of _her_ wetland! Also Death Valley and elsewhere.

We saw a bunch of her pix IRL, and they're even better that way. She has some on display at UC_Berkeley, in um is it the water museum? (Hey, I have poor memory but great taste.)

Posted by: Ron at December 5, 2006 02:03 AM

Thanks, Ron, you have excellent taste. :) But, then, "my" wetlands area is exceptionally beautiful. Or maybe I see it differently than other people because I feel a special connection to it.

The Water Resources Center Archives (410 O'Brien Hall, UC Berkeley) is hosting an on-going exhibit of my photos. The exhibit can also be seen at:

If anybody happens to be in Vallejo CA, the John F. Kennedy public library (main branch) is also exhibiting some of my wetlands photos.

My website URL is

Posted by: Sally at December 6, 2006 02:51 AM