Green is something special in California. Oh,sure, we have “green all year” because people can water their lawns and gardens to keep them vibrant, and there’s no white blanket of snow to cover them up.
But in the wild hills that frame our developed landscape, green is a rare and fleeting thing, dependent on the rains that come only for a few months in the winter. The flush of fresh, spring green only lasts a few weeks or a month before sun and heat turn the running grasses into waves of gold. And that’s in a good year, when three years of drought haven’t left the hills parched and stuttering for color. There’s only brown, in years like that. Brown and flames.
But we’ve had a couple of good rainstorms in the past six weeks, and the hills – which never die, they just go dormant – have responded with a burst of enthusiasm. “Seize the day” has never been a more appropriate rallying cry, when the hills are green like this.
And maybe, if we’re really lucky, and if there’s a bit more rain, there will soon be wildflowers.
These photos were taken at the Quail Hill open space land preserve in Irvine last weekend. It’s that spot along the 405, just south of the airport and the university, where a few grass-covered hills rise like an anomaly from between the condos and mini-malls. I’ve often wondered, driving by, if it was an area open to the public. Thanks to FunOrangeCountyParks.com, I found out that it is indeed!
There’s a great loop trail there, about 2 miles long, with only a mild incline if that sort of thing bothers you (they bother me way too often). It is incredibly well-maintained, and while we passed a number of families and joggers and other ramblers out enjoying the fine weather, it was by no means crowded.
I don’t have much in the way of historical info about the spot, except that it was once part of the Irvine Ranch, a vast agriculture conglomerate of the 19th and early 20th century that was mindfully parceled out and developed into the city of Irvine, with great swaths of land designated for open spaces and wildlife preserves. There is a cellphone audio tour of the walk, which talks about the biology and wildlife and so forth, including the manmade pond which was created to nurture fairy shrimp. You can listen to it here, if you’re curious: http://apps.guidebycell.com/gbc/http/Podcast.jsp?phone=9497435943
This is the point in the blog post where I would normally tie my photography and other worldly observations into some commentary about my writing process. And while I have more than once inwardly compared my creative drought with the California drought (they have both lasted about three years!) I don’t think it’s worth going on too much about.
I will say that there will be a fresh City of Bridges post tomorrow! It’s not the greatest thing I’ve ever written, but after a year and half I figured it was time to get it out there, regardless. It’s not sign that my personal drought is over, by a long shot, any more than the green hills shown here are a sign that California’s long drought is over.
But with any hope….there will be wildflowers.
January 25, 2015