A week and a half ago, when running down by the Grotto, I noticed fritilaries in bloom. I’d never seen them before (but then I don’t take that trail frequently), and there were only three plants blooming. I feared they might be rare, but found them beautiful. So yesterday I resolved to hike down to see if I could find them again.
I was a bit tired from Chardonnay, so I did not hurry. It’s a longish walk, but a pleasant one.
The scrub oaks were in “bloom”, or at least, they had their pollen streamers out on display. Some Indian Paintbrushes had come out since I’d been down the trail last — or perhaps it’s easier for me to notice them on a leisurely walk than at a run.
There were some new poppies here too. I checked, and they aren’t the standard “California Poppy”, but a congener, the “collarless California Poppy” (they lack a little ring underneath the flower). I’ve never seen a true California Poppy on our trails, and I wonder why not?
Just above Forbush is a patch of purple larkspurs. This patch always blooms before any others, and I always check it as I go down. It seemed in full bloom this afternoon with more blooms in evidence than last week. There were also some new larkspur shoots unfurling, these looked much sturdier than those around them, perhaps a different species. And then: one white bloom. In the middle of all the purple flowers here was a stem that only had one flower and that white.
Now there are white larkspurs in SB (though I’ve never seen them before). They are rare and grow in special soil. This one looked just like all the others around it (except for being white). It’s basal leaves were like all the others. I suspect it was an albino purple flower, but I can’t help wonder…
I only know of one Madrone in SB, and it’s at Forbush (well, a little up the creek from the campsite). The Madrone is a substantial tree in the same family as the Manzanitas. It looks like a huge Manzanita with the same red bark and the same shape of flower. I’ve been checking in on it over the last month to see how long it will bloom. I think this time might be the last I’ll see of blooms this year. It looks almost over.
As I climb out of Forbush I hear a strange banging above me. When I round a bend there are some people on the trail ahead hitting rocks with other rocks. It seems a strange occupation. When I come up to them they ask if I have a rock hammer and show the large fossil shell that is in a large rock. They have been hitting this rock in the hope of making it smaller so they can carry the shell home. I have no hammer, but I mention that I did see one back at the campsite.
And on down the other side. I come to the patch of locoweed. And suddenly I hear the rattlesnake. I look wildly, and find that I’ve already passed it. It’s quite large and is hiding under the locoweeds. So I keep going. I hope, when I come back it will have moved…
Finally I see a Fritilary plant. But it has no blooms. A little further though and I find some blooms. And as I look round I see more and more blooming plants. There must be 15 or so right here. I won’t have to go as far as I expected.
I spend some time with the plants and my cameras.
And then it is time to go back.
The rattlesnake has gone.
The rock-bashers are gone as well, but have left debris behind, so they probably extracted their fossil.
The white delphinium is still there. As enigmatic as ever.
I have been coming down the trail to Forbush for years now. There’s a little spiny plant on the side of the trail that I’ve always assumed to be a moss (it looks like a moss that lived in dry places back where I grew up), but today, when I glance at it I see there are tiny blooms amid the spines. I get down on my knees to peer at it (the blooms are very small). They really are small greenish-white flowers. With four petals. Not a moss then. Hmm. The stems are four sided.
It must be a bedstraw.
Now until this year I didn’t know what a bedstraw was. Or not exactly. It was a weed that popped up in English Lit from time to time, and that was all I had needed to know. But a month ago I was pondering a strange plant with a square stem surrounded by whorls of 8 leaves. It turned out to be common bedstraw. Then about a week ago I was hiking up San Ysidro and there was another bedstraw. Now here’s a third.
I go up a little further and notice a strange vine tangled in the leaves of a shrub, with flowers. As I bend to examine it I not the tell-tail square stem and greenish-white blooms. Yet another bedstraw.
I’m slowly learning to see those things which have been around me all along.