Since the first day of spring, we’ve walking Lilac Park twice a week, watching the arrival of the flowers. At first there was snow that melted rapidly, then chilly wind that demanded layers, gloves, hats, and scarves that continued into April. Finally, warmer weather has crept in. Now that it’s mid-May, we’ve been through the blooming of daffodils, a profusion of tulips, and the big event, lilacs, arrived this week. The bushes of blooms smell wonderful, not too strong, and the colors range from white through many layers of pinkish and purplish to a few dark purple blooms. This is the height of the year in the garden, and very much worth a walk. We’ve never found too many people here, making it easy to visit. My first photos taken in March are at the top, and the photos from yesterday are at the bottom.
Despite on and off drizzle, the Botanical Gardne was at its best. The rain washed all the leaves clean and gave a bit of shine to all the plants.
Outdoor plantings are complemented by the indoor collection of bromeliads, orchids, and butterflies. We also saw the weirdest mushroom I’ve ever seen. It grows a little lace dress for itself. Very strange indeed. They probably came out during the rain.
We are held captive by the winds of fate, and have settled for the month of November in Wheaton, IL, our former home. When we arrived here (11/3 and 11/8 respectively), we planned to stay for a week, visit doctors, stock up on odds and ends not readily available in Peru and leave for points south. We began our stay at the home of our friend Peggy. She has the best yard anywhere.
Even in November when her army of tiny Japanese maples have lost their brilliant red leaves, there is lots to see. A few brussels sprouts and some hardy kale hang on despite the bouts of cold weather that have already passed. Arches and walkways lead to hidden nooks. The sun lights the plants and makes the leaves translucent. It is a pleasure to visit and walk through. Somehow I relax just being there.
Peggy’s garden gives me a respite from worrying about test results, delayed flights, travel insurance, waivers of change fees, plans already made that have to be changed. There’s also our lack of winter clothing beyond coats. My fingers are crossed that it doesn’t snow too soon. I remember the year we remodeled our kitchen, tearing everything out the day after Thanksgiving and piling all the debris at the side of the driveway in anticipation of the arrival of a dumpster. Two feet of snow fell the next day and it took us until February to get it cleaned up. This year the days after Thanksgiving are mild and sunny, but I know it will change soon enough.
After ten days with Peggy we rented an apartment for the rest of the month, and another for the first two weeks of December. Are we moving back to the US? That’s not our plan, but we are waiting to get Jonathan a clear bill of health. Here’s our latest home base:
We are on the second floor, right side. The photo on the right is the view from our front door. I’ll add a few pictures of the interior the next time it is presentable.
The days are growing shorter and shorter just when we hoped to be switching hemispheres where the days are growing longer. The last time I noticed how low the sun was on the horizon, it was in Norway above the Arctic Circle in June 2016, and the sun dipped low over the horizon but never set. This is the opposite. The sun is low over the horizon until 11 and after 2pm. We have been traveling for three years and I seem to have forgotten about the short days of late fall. By 3:30 pm the afternoon is on its way out, and the sun has set by 4:30. Still, we’ve had a couple of lovely sunsets on these late afternoons.
Here we are, making the best of a new place. There are lots of places to take a walk. The neighborhood streets yield surprises. There is a path that connects two neighborhoods where the road does not. In a corner of the cul-de-sac on one side, beside the walking path to the next street, someone has decorated their back yard with chandeliers. The glass drops are tiny wind chimes when the wind blows, prisms sparkling when the sun is out, quirky and charming.At first glance, you may not notice the decorations in the trees. Perhaps the sound makes you look again and you see all the chandeliers.
It’s another place that can cheer you up just by being there. Who knows what else we may find as we continue to explore.
At the Stewartry show, we met a member of the local Royal Scottish Forestry Society. We chatted a bit and the next thing you know, William invited us to tea on Saturday. It sounded like fun, we’d had an enjoyable chat, and it was a chance to get to know someone from the area a bit better.
We drove out to Dunscore on very small roads, narrow but scenic, and found our way to Dalgonar House.
As we arrived we met visiting family members just arriving for a stay.
We walked around the gardens, where every turn presents a new vista.
Hugo the whippet was willing to join us for a picture on a particularly attractive garden bench.
On our return to the house we had tea and chatted with Marilyn about her sculptures in the garden, really wonderful pieces. It dawned on us that we were in the midst of move-in day for a family get together. During the time we were there, all three adult children, eight grand children and four grand-dogs arrived. We chatted while new arrivals ebbed and flowed in and out of the kitchen. It was pretty clear that we were a last minute addition to a pretty free-form household. It was a pleasure to be around such interesting and unflappable people, who didn’t seem to mind the visiting Americans. When the last of the family turned up (the countess and the earl), we made our farewells and headed off–just then the sun came out. The drive home to Dalbeattie was gorgeous.
Southern Scotland is “undiscovered” in that people ask us what we plan to do, though they themselves may be there on vacation. It is only undiscovered by foreigners, I think. Here are a few more pictures of the lovely gardens at Dalgonar House.
So many loose ends, so little time. We took a couple more of the walks in the guidebook, “Fez from Bab to Bab.”
We passed a tassel seller.
One of the walks took us through the Jnane Sbil, a beautiful garden near the Royal Palace. This month is perfect for visiting, the orange blossoms are out, as are lilacs, roses and all kinds of flowers. The garden is carefully maintained, the gardeners have even created some new small islands within the stream that passes through the garden. We did some birdwatching, and even saw a new bird, a grey wagtail.
Another day we took a route that included the official Municipal Market.We drank coffee on the roof terrace of the Palais Faraj hotel. It overlooks our neighborhood and after spotting its terrace, we decided to go for a visit. It has a lovely view over the medina, and the cookies were excellent, too.
On the way home, I noticed that our taxi driver had a dashboard cupholder for his glass of mint tea. I love it.
Once we moved back in to our Mendocino house, we had a busy day. We’d decided to attend the benefit for the Mendocino Botanical Garden called “Art in the Garden”. It’s held on the first Saturday in August each year, and this year it was Aug. 1. The flowers were gorgeous, dahlias and begonias among the showiest.
Though the juried art show was more crafts than art, there were some very fine artists present and we enjoyed looking at their work in all media from watercolor to dye-infused metal plates.
We met Marian DeGloria, painter of the logo work of art for the show (above). She had a planter of similar composition beside it. She’s been a volunteer at the Garden for seven years and seems to know her way around plants both on an easel and in the ground.
We used my short cut sketch to make a quick trip two the water’s edge on Saturday evening–it was as stunning a view as ever.
On Sunday, we walked down to Van Damme State Beach where Jonathan tested out how he’d look if he grew his beard into the most popular shape locally:
This week was the best weather since we’ve been in northern California.
We discovered that you need a guidebook to find some of the access points to the coastal trails, because they are so well hidden. Homeowners are not necessarily trying to prevent public access to the coast, but the rights-of-way are very specific. You can miss a trail if you don’t look carefully.
The picture on the left is about five feet before the picture on the right. If you turn back too soon, you can miss a trail to the water.
A lagoon sits a few hundred feet from the ocean.
The beach is gravelly but beautiful, with no other visitors.
Either the trail needs maintenance, or it has a shady mystique.
This week we moved from our apartment in Ft. Bragg back to Mendocino. Before we left, I took a walk around Ft. Bragg. Our apartment is in the downtown area, bordered by the coast on one side and extending east. From downtown you pass a block or two of transitional neighborhood and then you are in the zone of permanent residents. You can tell from the houses, most I’d call California bungalows. Many are well kept or in the process of being fixed up.
There’s something unusual about the soil in Ft. Bragg, too. I’ve never seen such bright blue hydrangeas outside a florist’s shop.
We moved out on July 31, and had a few hours before we could check in to our motel, so we went berry picking. It included the happy discovery of two apple trees covered with ripe fruit in the middle of the berry patch.
We picked enough wild blackberries to make about 3 cups of seedless jam and 2 cups of blackberry sauce for ice cream. The apples were enough for an apple crisp.
Once again we stayed at a California motel that doesn’t use water-saving shower heads. Thanks Surf and Sand, Ft. Bragg. Let’s just hope you use gray water on your landscaping.
I believe everyone says “where does the time go”? They’re right.
The Mendocino Music Festival got into high gear this week and we attended three events, the California Honey Drops, a concert of five groups “A Capella Fever” and a fully staged opera, The Barber of Seville. The opera was my favorite so far, it had a simple but effective set, clever staging, and wonderful, strong, well-matched voices. Besides, this is a funny opera, no one dies. (Is it opera if no one dies?)
Each one was better than the last and we still have one concert to go next week.
Between concerts, there was still lot of coast to explore, fish not to catch, and birds to identify.
We checked the tide table and planned to go snorkeling near low tide on Tuesday. The forecast was for warm weather, into the 80s, all week long. On Tuesday, we got up to heavy overcast, temperatures in the low 60s and a small craft warning (wind and waves) through Friday night. We decided against snorkeling (!), and drove down to see Point Arena pier. We tried fishing, but no luck. We did try both the Manhattan and New England clam chowder at the chowder house on the pier.
We made an interesting discovery on our way out of town. In Point Arena, the Senior Center and the Druids meeting house are the same place….
On to birds:
On the third Wednesday of each month, there is a bird watching visit to the botanical garden sponsored by the local Audubon club. A good-sized group of us met at 8 am and entered by a side gate. About half the group were local members and half were people like us who had read about the visit and just showed up. Our leader, Tim, said that this was not the beginner bird walk and would focus on identifying birds by ear. The combined expertise and eyeballs of a group yielded lots of birds and good company. Each person seemed to have a suggestion about how to identify birds or how to see them in the trees. We saw a young hawk sitting on the top of a tree begging for food. Apparently, it is old enough to hunt and the parents stop feeding it to get it to go out and feed itself, but some resist growing up. (Sound familiar?)
We also saw woodpeckers, warblers, bushtits, sparrows and seabirds. Most were moving too fast to photograph, but the gardens are irresistible for photos.
Though we waited for the wind and waves to abate, they did not, so we went on a field trip to Ukiah to see the Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House (her home).
The museum has four exhibit areas. Two small spaces show Hudson family history and Pomo baskets. A larger space exhibits Grace Hudson’s paintings. This was a bit of a shock as I knew nothing about her as a painter, other than that she was very successful in the late 19th and early 20th century. Her paintings are big-eyed, red-cheeked Pomo children, and some adults. The notes indicate that she was accurate in the details of clothing and household goods, but the people are obviously idealized. This was popular?
The front exhibit space was on contemporary Japanese bamboo weaving. It was a lovely exhibit with spectacular objects that involved a lot of intensive labor. Most artists shown are older Japanese men (one woman), and may take a year to create one piece. In a few of the cases, Pomo baskets from the museum collection were added to contrast a technique, and that was quite interesting.
I had expected to see more Pomo baskets, because that is what Grace Hudson and her husband were known for collecting. When you read about them, though, you find out that John Hudson worked for a time as a curator at the Field Museum under George Dorsey. Any collecting he did would have been for the Field Museum, which has a collection of baskets Hudson made. After falling out with Dorsey, Hudson returned to California and amassed a collection of Pomo basketry that he sold to the Smithsonian to finance construction of their home, that they called the Sun House. Perhaps there wasn’t much time or money left to collect their own baskets.
Our field trip to Ukiah showed us how lucky we are to be on the coast. In mid-afternoon in Ukiah it was 102º, breathtakingly hot. We drove back to Ft. Bragg through the redwoods and by the time we arrived, it was in the high 60s. It may not be swimming weather, but it is more comfortable than 100 degrees.
Friday we returned to Bruhel Point (see previous post) to do some more fishing. We saw this butterfly while crossing to the rocks from our parking spot. I haven’t been able to identify it.
Jonathan decided to carry his fishing pole guitar-style.
Once again, the fish were not with us. The water was pretty rough and we ended up hiking along the rocks to check out a small blowhole.
Is scum on the ocean natural or man-made? There was no obvious source for this.
There were some nice tidepools on the rocks,
and naturally sculpted rocks:
We hiked back to the car and called it a good day, even if it was still overcast and cold. After all, we could be in Ukiah!
Last but not least was the Mendocino Art and Craft Fair, at the Mendocino Art Center.
The Art Center shows art, holds classes, invites visiting artists. I looked at the list of classes, but they seem to let artists teach what they want, so there are no beginner classes and lots of painting on silk and electroplating, etc. These seemed way beyond beginning watercolor…..
However, I did my best to support local artists by visiting every booth in the show and buying a sensational blue beaded necklace from Carol Bernau, an artist from Oakland [Adornable, Art to wear for the young at heart]. My outfit didn’t exactly match, but I am sure I can find something better at home.
We moved from Little River to Ft. Bragg, CA for the month of July, though we plan to move back to the Little River house in August. It was a bit of a trial to pack up, though probably a good exercise. There are somewhat fewer canned goods, but the car still ended up filled to the doors. We left right at 9 am with the tourist’s dilemma of how to pass the time until we could move into our next abode at 3 pm.
After a delicious coffee at Moody’s Organic Coffee Shop in Mendocino, we stopped in to visit the Mendocino Botanical Garden in Ft. Bragg. It’s a wonderful place. We looked at birds, but mostly the flowers.
We moved into our new apartment in downtown Ft. Bragg and found that it is very well located, but has a peculiar layout. There are two bedrooms and two baths, but you can only get from one bedroom to the bathroom by walking through the other bedroom. The living/dining area is spacious and comfortable and the kitchen is well-outfitted.
The view out the window is also peculiar. We can see the ocean to the west, but between us and the water is an area that is being subject to cleanup of toxic metals left from the earlier Union Pacific Lumber Co. mill that was the main industry of the town for many years. The cleanup is under way, but won’t be completed for an uncertain period of time. Sooooo, ocean view, yes, but don’t look down.