Today, I had some job interview-y type stuff to do, AND I had to stay away from the house all day because they were putting new sealcoat on our road, so I played vagabond all day and just whiled away the hours until my temp-service interview by looking around. First, I drove out to some vineyards and got some nice shots in the morning mist:
After driving around for a while, I decided to go to the public library and do some research. I found Ken Kaufman's big ol' bird guide and flipped around, looking at the different migratory patterns and times out here in the west. I've been spending a lot of time reading lately (as I've been in airports and stuff), and I'm learning that the bird population out here is much different than it is back east. For instance, if all these Western field guides are to be believed, did you know that these common Eastern birds are rare and/or non-existent out west?
Eastern Wood Pewee
I know I've been hearing what sounds like a Northern Cardinal's warning "chink!" but I think it must be something else, because there's been neither crest nor feather of a NoCard out here. But I will have plenty to look as the year progresses:
Western Scrub Jay (they're everywhere)
Western Wood Pewee
So there's that. I also checked into what sparrows I might see during the "winter" here (when it's like forty -- brrrr!) and found a nice list with some real surprises for an Eastern birder:
Lark Sparrow--how about that crazy face pattern?
I also had to look up the meaning of Western terms like "chaparral" and "desert wash." Interesting. Sounds like I'll be doing a lot of hiking in the drier areas around here. There are lots of trails and stuff to explore.
After driving around the vineyards for a while, I went to Santa Rosa to look around. First stop, childhood hero Luther Burbank's house. If you don't know what Luther Burbank did, shame on you! He's the father of hybridization, grafting bits of one kind of tree onto another, etc. He loved Santa Rosa, thinking it was the best place for growing plants year-round. (gotta agree with him there, so far) Here are some pics from his home and gardens. The actual house:Very tiny, no? They had four acres but his wife had to sell some and now there's only 1.6 acres left. It's still pretty impressive, though--I would LOVE to live among so many winding garden paths and plants:
He did a lot of work with fruits and other food plants, including the strawberries and quince shown here.
He also had a lovely rose garden with several hybrids he created:
My mom would love this place; so many flowers! He had herb gardens, cutting gardens, food gardens--you name it, the guy messed with it, always with the aim of improving the sweetness of the berry or the beauty of the flower. There's something a little vain and presumptuous about "improving" the works of Nature, but the guy's heart was in the right place.
This seat was carved out of Burbank's favorite tree, a giant Cedar of Lebanon that he grew from a seed and near which he wished to buried. The tree had to be cut down in 1989 because it had root disease, but a local craftsman carved this beautiful two-seat throne out of a big piece of the tree; the seat is now in the front yard of the house: I sat in it and was completely comfortable, cool breezes blowing on me, relaxing in Nature.
Finally, I took the scenic route home and shot this pic of the mountain that I can see out my bedroom window:Man, I love this place.