“When the April wind wakes the call for the soil, I hold the plough as
my only hold upon the earth, and, as I follow through the fresh and
fragrant furrow, I am planted with every foot-step, growing, budding,
blooming into the spirit of spring.” ~Dallas Lore Sharp, 1870-1929
Last weekend, outdoors was the best place to be. I was gardening, with a shovel in one hand and hose in the other – no place for a cellphone! The warm sun touched by a refreshing breeze made the crazy world disappear. There is a familiar image of a face uplifted toward the sun, eyes closed – pure bliss. Ah, to be a farmer, holding on to a plough in an open field, sowing seeds. Although a bit of a romantic, I am familiar with the hardships of farming. My family homesteaded in Kansas in the 1870s. And yes, it was a good life …
As I was out tending our yard, local volunteers were out tending the wilderness. Armed with water, sunscreen and skills of a mountain goat, they headed up to Deukmejian Wilderness Park. Their main goal was to eradicate invasive non-native plants. The day was a beauty weather-wise, but temperatures close to the 90 degree mark were a bit uncomfortable. Besides the rocky terrain and heat, the “wilderness-gardeners” had to beware of snakes! This time of year is perfect rattlesnake weather – mild and just warm enough. Lots of new hatchings – not more poisonous, per se, but they can’t regulate the amount of venom they put out. So, thank-you neighbors … you deserve a Steve Irwin commendation!
Pulling weeds in the mountains…unfathomable in contrast to the benign dandelions growing in our own yards. The varieties in the San Gabriel’s are a threat to the natural ecosystem. Drought, fire and human interaction encourage their growth.
Common native vegetation types in Southern California, from the coast to 3,000 feet, are chaparral, coastal sage, scrub oak and grasses. These are inter-dispersed under and around conifer forests and groves of oak trees. Being well adapted to fires, under normal conditions the ecosystem recovers in a few years and the same species re-establish. Mother Nature, once again, smiles down.
August 26, 2009: The Station Fire, the largest fire in Los Angeles County history, broke. The “perfect storm” for fires: dry, hot weather and an arsonist. This fire was not the typical wind driven type, but terrain driven. Therefore, a slow-burning one. Most native vegetation was burned beyond recovery.
Emigrants have introduced new plants into the U.S. for centuries – some good and some bad. Non-native invasive plants often have the capability to re-establish easier, post-fire, than native ones. The severity of the Station Fire exacerbated this problem. Created by man … and now man is responsible. Thankfully, the mountains are slowly recovering.
We started out cool and drizzly with a slight chance of rain. Mild spring weather is predicted for the weekend and in the upcoming days. Perfect for … well, anything.
A warm welcome to the Special Olympics athletes at Crescenta Valley High School this Saturday!
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.