Monday, December 26, 2005
It was my birthday today so, I visited the mountains with a friend. What better way to cheer on another year.
The last couple of days the mornings were cool with some fog and then the sun, in early afternoon, would peak out and warm things up. Two days ago it was 87 Fº in Pasadena - nice. I have been planning to go visit the upper watershed and hoped it would stay warm, but alas, the winter clouds won. Still all in all it was lovely.
Water was still pouring in the East tributary of the San Gabriel River. Most of the small waterfalls off the sides of the mountains have been spent. All summer Public Works have been hauling the sediment from the bottom of the reservoir to another location in the mountains to make room for water in the reservoir behind the dam for next year's winter's rains - and to supply water for drought impacted Los Angeles County.
Dams are funny things. We build them to save water and yet they have a limited 'life' span or usefulness. Rivers are a bodies of water which flow from high places to a lower places - they have a much larger body of water beneath the surface in the soils flowing generally in the same direction, albeit slower.The trees and rocks and animals are swept up in the water, too. The flotsam and jetsam that flow on the surface bring minerals to the iron starved oceans and the sediments enrich the effluvial fans surrounding the rivers. The process distributes the plants, animals and water to the surrounding lands, eroding the mountains away. Before people, the washed out trees, brush, and sediments provided protection from predation, material for breeding, and food in the form of islands for the various ocean going organisms.
We build dams. Then rains and snow-melt, which soak through the soils in the mountains, fill the rivers with water. The force of the water washes sediment down the mountain. The sediment fills up the reservoirs behind the dams, which lowers the depth of the man-made lakes. Depending on the amount of rain, and the decomposition of the mountains' soil and rocks, the man-made lakes can, with some bad luck, be filled and useless in ten to twenty years.
I need to visit the new mountain Public Works created from this summer's dredging of sediment....
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Down under in the bushes and roses, this small bird was turning up the leaves on the floor looking for little yummy bits to eat. Perhaps, a ground beetle, or a earwig, or a snail, or a centipede hiding under a twig in the moist soil. All I could hear was the shushing of the leaves below.
Birds are funny little animals. They are curious, and if you make the right noise they will stop what they are doing and come out from hiding to look at where the noise is coming from. Two sparrows were just above the Junko and my walking closer made them fly away. "Chi-Chi! Chi -Chi!" I said and up came this little bird to look.
Ginkos, a friend once said, never learned how to be trees - they were too ancient. They grew branches and stems like the lobes on Equisetum, also an ancient plant prior to the Cretaceous Period, sticking straight out perpendicular to the trunk. Oh, but the leaves are so unique and so yellow in fall and early winter here. In China, I have heard people eat the fruit.
Oh , the fruit! They drop to the ground in fall and when crushed, smell like a mixture of dog poo and cheese. However, it is said that they offer good medicine in the form of a vaso-dialator used to help those who forget stuff... Some formulations suggest only using the leaves. Even the yellow jackets that buzz in fall, stay away from the smelly things.... I use them as a deterrent to stepping on my plant beds next to the street. First time steppers in fall are reminded that something was rotten where they last parked...
Back at Desconso Gardens... the camellias are revving up this winter and many are open. Some are loosing their petals. All are beautiful and delicate..
How is it that SOME males, like this duck, know how pretty they are and need just that special position to show off? Perhaps prance a bit. Bat its eyelashes. Maybe, take a deep sigh just to show how the rest of the world doesn't come up to its standards....
The male Aix sponsa, Wood Duck, isn't someone to sneeze at. He's beautiful. He's willing to sit next to the Mallards.... Anas sp..