The Southern California landscape is in a transition right now – after the first good winter storm, bushes and shrubs are coming back to life. At the same time, deciduous trees like willows and sycamores are turning, and their autumnal color contrasts with the fresh growth of green. Add a thin layer of nightly radiation fog and the winter sun rising to it – and the morning walk with the dog becomes an almost poetic experience.
The delicate green tips of Artemisia californica shining bright from the ends of dark brown twigs, wet with fog drip, speak of this renewal like few other things can; in this beautiful light, hard boulders appear soft, almost silky and smooth; the warm yellow of willows glows through the mist in the cold morning air – where the sun burns the fog away, it adds to the sensation of autumnal flames that spend warmth through their sheer color.
Bushrue buds are forming and we’ll probably see the first flowers of this native citrus appear in a week. An odd Solanum already has plenty of purple flowers. The Baccharis bushes in the meantime shine white, much of their silvery pappus still hanging on to the twigs, almost like fresh, powdery snow – in particular when it glistens with fog droplets.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of waterfowl have gathered on the lake. White pelicans preening quietly, Ducks quacking, constant splattering of water and fluttering of wings and feathers, mostly out of sight – and above it all, the shrill and unique shriek of the Grebes, eerie and mysterious through the fog, but knowing these birds, also cute. It is my favorite soundtrack of Lake Hodges.
What a surreal, wonderful time of the year, and what a blessing to live here.