Friday, July 24, 2009

sentimental about seasons

my dad's John Deere (September 1988)

I grew up in the Central Valley of California on a small, family farm (cows, sheep, goats, geese, chickens, cotton, wheat, corn, almonds, apricots, and boysenberries) where it felt like it was either 104 degrees of dry, extreme heat in the summer or soupy-thick fog in the winter. Everything had to be irrigated and anything that popped out of the ground that wasn't purposely planted was considered a weed. I didn't experience true four-seasons-a-year changes for the first 23 years of my life. I would read about seasons in school readers or in National Geographic Society's 1970's World magazine and would wonder if there really were spring and summer wildflowers, or leaves that honestly turned bright orange and red in autumn. In a weird twist of fate, I ended up working for an educational publisher that was purchased by NGSP.

Sigh... it's yet another cool grey, high-fog, coastal summer morning here, which is very typical of Pacific Grove...

And I find myself fondly remembering the warm, fertile fields, forests, bogs, and fens that I was lucky enough to experience in Ohio for 9 years. I adored the steady color procession of summer wildflowers and butterflies; the crisp air of the fall, marked with heady scents of apple cider and the sounds and sights of crunchy, colorful leaves; and the excitement of spotting the first bright yellow forsythias and daffodils of the spring... However, I detested the very cold, long, bitter winters where early, lake-effect snow would refreeze several times to become massive, dirty, ice obstacles on the roads. The best thing about winter in Ohio was that I could jest that I walked on water, thanks to a frozen Lake Erie. On the other extreme, there was the regular, high humidity, sticky heat of Cleveland during the summers. Often 90 degrees in the Midwest somehow felt so much hotter than the dry 104 degrees of the Central Valley of California... and neither suited me.

Thus, I have purposely chosen to live on the coast for its mild winters and cool summers. As much as I sought out a moderate climate, I still miss the cycle of "traditional" seasons. Admittedly, it took me a couple of years after returning to California to really get interested in the local nature, because, in my mind, it couldn't compare to the bounty of an Ohio summer. Too often I've hiked locally and noticed fantastic flowers and such and dismissed them by shrugging, "Oh, that's a pretty flower." or "That's an interesting bug." to be quickly forgotten. I was starting to feel too pedestrian and somewhat ignorant.

So, this year I invested in a couple local guide books and created Nature ID the first week of May 2009 (older posts are predated). My first post to Nature ID is here. Google states I've had this identity since 2008, but that was because I set up a couple other basic blogs as favors for friends who don't have computers.

Thanks to Nature ID, I'm appreciating the local diversity and uniqueness like never before... after all, there is an ocean of life within a stone's throw of where I live and if I really wanted a little warmth, all I have to do is hop in the car for a 20 minute drive inland. I love spring which lasts ostensibly from mid-January to mid-May. My favorite series of blog posts are my wildflower pics from a hike at Fort Ord on March 14, 2009.

I've looked repeatedly for another nature blog in the local area and have yet to find one that resonates with me in that peculiar, romantic love of nature like the ones from the Midwest and the UK. Here's a partial list of those that feed my soul and fantasies of living somewhere else:
Nature Remains
Tricia's Tales
The Ohio Nature Blog
Orchids and Nature

A HUGE thank you to all the nature bloggers out there for sharing your local bounty, whatever the season!

ps 07/29/09 - I started this entry on Friday and it's remained cool and foggy through to this morning. An unfortunate use of pointy "carrots" deleted most of my original post and since then I've edited this post repeatedly, because I was still figuring out what I wanted to say. I usually try to refrain from posting too many random musings on Nature ID, since that's not my goal for this blog... but these past several mornings, I felt the need to work out my thoughts in writing.

pss 04/21/10 - Lately, I've been absolutely wowed by pictures on other blogs... which got me thinking about my own pictures and what kind of camera I want next. I took the photo above for a photography elective my senior year of high school. I don't remember much from the class except struggling with an awkward black cloth box to unload the film from the cassette. I even developed the film, too. I am so used to digital now that I almost forgot what it used to be like to take a picture. Anyone remember those square, disposable flash bulbs?