Sunsets, Sunrise and Nature’s Fury

Just ten days back, the sky was cloudy that by itself should not be a matter of concern to anyone. However in northern California, in summer, we are more accustomed to see clear blue skies during summer than cloudy skies, so much so, that to take a photo with the sky as a background one needs to have a good circular polarizer filter to get some contrast. So when the sky is cloudy, it is much easier to take photos with the sky as a background and normally we are rewarded with beautiful sunsets. So on August 13, Thursday, I was up on One Tree Hill near our house to capture a good sunset photograph. But even I was not prepared to see what nature presented. It was awesome.

Sunset from my backyard on the afternoon of August 13, 2020. Someone said that it looked like Martian sky. Maybe it was just the prelude to what nature had in store for us.

On Sunday, August 16, early morning, California was struck by an unusual dry lightning and thunder storm. Within a very short period of time several hundred intense lightning strikes were reported. As per report, during the next seventy two hours, the state was struck by more than ten thousand lightning strikes, though the majority of intense strikes were on early Sunday morning. As expected, fire started to light up around the state with majority of them concentrated in norther California. Rapidly burning fires forced evacuation as well as destruction of properties and natural wonders. The Big Basin Redwood Forest State Park, about forty five minutes drive from our house was burnt. The visitor center was completely burnt down to the ground. The fate of the old redwood trees, some older than two thousand years and two feet plus tall are not known yet.

Not sure if any of these behemoths are still standing after the fire. These photos were taken on August 1, 2015.

The fires are still burning without much of it being contained. For last four to five days now, the sky is covered by smoke from all the fires burning. University of California, Santa Cruz was evacuated. Thousands of firefighters are fighting valiantly to contain the fires. We pray for their success because in their success lies our safety. Please send your prayers for their safety. Already six people lost their lives. As I am writing this, lots of properties were damaged and many had to leave their homes to safety and others are packed and waiting for the dreaded evacuation orders.

As the state burns and the sky is covered with smoke, nature has presented her colors with beautiful sunsets and sunrises. It’s of little solace to all who are affected by the fury of the fire. We were staying at home due to COVID and now hoping that everyone can stay at their homes and not get displaced due to the fires. Though at first the smokes from the fires produced beautiful sunsets and sunrise, now it is only gray sky hiding the sun.

Sunset on August 17, 2020 from One Tree Hill

Sunrise on August 18, 2020 from my front yard
Midday sun on August 19, 2020 from my front yard. Sky covered in smoke.

Friday Babble

The internet medical sites have produced a group of self taught medical experts with little knowledge that is a dangerous thing for their spouses forced to bear the brunt of that faulty education creating a deep divide in society between the hypochondriacs and the others driven to near insanity by the well meant incomplete information.

Chinese privet- Local Flora – Stay at home stroll – 16

This is a series about the neighborhood flowers and flowering trees that I saw and enjoyed on my walk in the neighborhood during the stay at home months.  Many of the flowers I don’t know much about and depend on Google lens to get a name.  If there are mistakes, apologize for my ignorance.

I just don’t understand who names plants.  No rhyme and reason at all.  Not sure why this is called Chinese privet unless the person in charge of naming this first saw this in China.  In fact this is so ubiquitous in our area that I would have completely missed it except for the loud humming of myriads of bees as I was walking by the side of a house.  People use it in many homes as boundary dividers or as ornamental hedge.  I walk by these every day and never give them a second glance.  But the humming of the bees made me look to my side and I found the hedges erupting with this beautiful and very mildly fragrant flowers.  Later on I read that the small berry like fruits that the plant produce are poisonous.  No wonder people use this as boundary hedges.

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thy sublime beauty

hides a mystery

fruits you produce, if eaten

will cause misery


A Rose is a rose

 

 

 

Spanish Broom- Local Flora – Stay at home stroll – 15

This is a series about the neighborhood flowers and flowering trees that I saw and enjoyed on my walk in the neighborhood during the stay at home months.  Many of the flowers I don’t know much about and depend on Google lens to get a name.  If there are mistakes, apologize for my ignorance.

This may feel like cheating for three reasons.  First, it was not exactly a stroll, it was more of a drive. Second, it was not in the neighborhood, unless I could claim seventeen miles south from my house as neighborhood. And third and last, it’s not exactly a local flora.  This is an invasive species in California.  However these flowers captivated me so much along with the scenery that I hope my dear readers would forgive my transgressions.

Due to the stay at home restrictions we had been driving our cars very little now a days, using it mainly for grocery shopping once in two weeks.  Unfortunately one of the car’s battery died prematurely yesterday.  After a call to CSAA (California State Automobile Association) and getting a jump start, I was advised to take it for a long drive to charge the battery.  I chose to take a back road south of our home through the countryside.  Glad I decided to do that.  The two lane road goes through some low rolling hills and wooded areas with a few reservoirs by the roadside and couple of county parks.  Some seventeen miles south of our home, the beautiful vista near Uvas Reservoir County Park with its tranquil beauty was glistening in the afternoon sunlight.  I was afraid to turn off the engine, fearing that the car may not start again, and decided against a walk.  That did not stop me from enjoying the scenery from the roadside and nearly empty parking lot at the entrance to the park.

Can anyone imagine using these beautiful flowers as brooms?  Whoever gave that name must have a weird sense of humor.  Not the Spanish, I hope.

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tranquil and serene

lies the placid waters of the lake  

spanish beauties serenade

the entrance to take


A Rose is a rose

 

 

 

Aaron’s Beard (or Perforate St John’s-wort)- Local Flora – Stay at home stroll – 14

This is a series about the neighborhood flowers and flowering trees that I saw and enjoyed on my walk in the neighborhood during the stay at home months.  Many of the flowers I don’t know much about and depend on Google lens to get a name.  If there are mistakes, apologize for my ignorance.

It was a misty morning yesterday when I took my dog Skooby out for a walk.  My wife accompanied me. It was a very pleasant morning, cool with a continuous drizzle that was mostly a fine mist than rain. Environment was surreal, like being transported back to a mystical land.  About a mile walk from our house is a small city park adjacent to the local elementary park.  Though the park benches are closed and cordoned off due to the corona virus preventive measures, the park itself is open to public for strolls. Whenever I take a walk that side with Skooby, I make it a point to go there for a mundane reason, the park has trash cans where one can deposit the dog poo bags and I make it a point to do that instead of carrying it with me all throughout the walk.  Imagine my surprise, as I was depositing the load and the sun came out momentarily from behind the clouds.  Right next to the trash can was this bush with the beautiful yellow flowers dazzling in the sun with leaves moistened by rain drops.  I must have seen that bush hundreds of times before but never did it look so magical.  However when I found out the name, only thought that came to my mind was that whoever had named it must be in the most inebriated state to name such a beautiful flower with someone’s beards or wort. What a calamity!  

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a misty morning brightened up

your mere presence filled the heart  

soothing like the moon

lighting up the night


A Rose is a rose

 

 

 

Deer Encounter- Local Flora (and fauna) – Stay at home stroll – 13

This is a series about the neighborhood flowers and flowering trees that I saw and enjoyed on my walk in the neighborhood during the stay at home months.  Many of the flowers I don’t know much about and depend on Google lens to get a name.  If there are mistakes, apologize for my ignorance.

The title should have have been local fauna but my after lunch stroll was not in search of them.  The day started out cloudy and gloomy, not at all like a normal mid May weather at all.  After a relatively late lunch, I decided to take a long walk in the neighborhood.  Normally during these long walk in the neighborhood I try to complete a loop of about four to five miles.  As I had already done a mile in  the morning with my dog Skooby and would go out again with him in the evening, I decided to cut a leg short and return home.  I was fortunate that I did that.

No one must have told this deer family about the stay at home order.  Either the cloudy weather may have misled them about the time of the day or they may have heard about the new relaxations being planned and decided to try out. Either way, it was my good fortune.  We do see deers from time to time in our neighborhood but mainly during early morning before the sun is high up in the sky. As I took a turn on the road towards my home, this family of deers crossed the road and started walking by the creekside fence.  I decided to follow them along on the other side of the road, forgetting to take the turn to my house.  For nearly a quarter of a mile they kept me company, sometimes hiding by the bushes as they ran daintily along the fence.  I was more worried that they may get tempted to cross the road to taste the green grass on the front yards of  my neighbors and get hit by cars that won’t be expecting deers on the road at this time of the day.  As I reached the end of the road after about half a mile, I decided to turn back by the same road hoping to see them again.  Alas, they have vanished by that time.

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how graceful art thou

nature’s beautiful creation

the unexpected visit 

a poetry in motionaa

And as this series is about local flowers that I see during my stay at home stroll in the neighborhood, I shall finish my post with a photo of flowers that I am sure will not need any introduction.  I am sure the deers will appreciate.

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dandelions, they don’t ask for much

to take their place in the sun

hardy warriors are they

here for the long run 


A Rose is a rose

 

 

 

Fortnight Lily- Local Flora – Stay at home stroll – 12

This is a series about the neighborhood flowers and flowering trees that I saw and enjoyed on my walk in the neighborhood during the stay at home months.  Many of the flowers I don’t know much about and depend on Google lens to get a name.  If there are mistakes, apologize for my ignorance.

When I first saw a lily I understood why lily white symbolized purity.  But I had no idea that the flowers below, seen in many gardens in our locality were called lily.  They have white petals but with yellow and violet markings.  I have no idea how and when these natives of Africa landed in California.  The flowers do not last long but blooms every fifteen days or so, hence the name fortnight lily.   

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lily white petals

adorned with violet and yellow

like moon spots  

makes you glow


A Rose is a rose

 

 

 

California Buckeye- Local Flora – Stay at home stroll – 11

This is a series about the neighborhood flowers and flowering trees that I saw and enjoyed on my walk in the neighborhood during the stay at home months.  Many of the flowers I don’t know much about and depend on Google lens to get a name.  If there are mistakes, apologize for my ignorance.

From a distance, when they are in full bloom it looks like a tree full of orchids.  Mildly scented, during spring the tree suddenly comes to life and is a sight to behold.  As the name suggest, these are California natives but I have not seen these trees in any ones gardens in the area. May be because these trees become brown and barren during the summer months people do not like to plant them in their gardens. I have seen many of these by the creek side and by some hiking trails in the locality. 

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the beautiful damsel

swaying her long braids

entices the mendicant 

till he breaks


A Rose is a rose

 

 

 

Pinkladies- Local Flora – Stay at home stroll – 10

This is a series about the neighborhood flowers and flowering trees that I saw and enjoyed on my walk in the neighborhood during the stay at home months.  Many of the flowers I don’t know much about and depend on Google lens to get a name.  If there are mistakes, apologize for my ignorance.

Not a native of California, these beautiful flowers in bloom will brighten up any garden. Known also as primrose, they have a habit of escaping the confines of a garden and take residence by the roadside.  In a garden or by the roadsides, these beauties will steal your heart.  They bloom in abundance and splash the area in color.  The whiff of their subtle fragrance is enticing. Wonder any damsels ever blushed this pink. 

O’ ye lovelies

Blushing pink cheeks

Prim and proper 

Dainty ladies


A Rose is a rose

 

 

 

Crimson bottlebrush- Local Flora – Stay at home stroll – 9

This is a series about the neighborhood flowers and flowering trees that I saw and enjoyed on my walk in the neighborhood during the stay at home months.  Many of the flowers I don’t know much about and depend on Google lens to get a name.  If there are mistakes, apologize for my ignorance.

Near our house there is a small creek that runs nearly dry during the summer months.  The creek is bordered on one side by a road and the other side a gravel road cum trail maintained by the water district.  The creek is fenced in on both sides by chain link fences.  Between the road and the fence are many trees and wildflowers that start blooming during spring.  I am not sure if some of these flowering plants are really wild or originally planted by the developers when the subdivision was  planned some fifty years back. To me it looks wild now, hiding the creek from the road.  There are quite a few bottlebrush plants by the roadside.  For once I can say that the name is quite appropriate as any one can see the similarity with a bottlebrush.  I am happy that the color is not white. Crimson really brings up the contrast.

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Did the inventor 

In a rush

Took the idea from nature 

And named you bottlebrush


A Rose is a rose