Honeysuckle in the Highlands

Honeysuckle in the woods of Scotland.

“Wherever there is suddenly more light, flowering plants also try their luck, including honeysuckle. Using its tendrils, it makes its way up around the little trunks, always twining in a clockwise direction. By coiling itself around the trunk, it can keep up with the growth of the young tree and its flowers can bask in the sun.

However, as the years progress, the coiling vine cuts into the expanding bark and slowly strangles the little tree. Now it is a question of timing: Will the canopy formed by the old trees close soon and plunge the little tree into darkness once again?

If it does, the honeysuckle will wither away, leaving only scars. But if there is plenty of light for awhile longer, perhaps because the dying mother tree was particularly large and so left a correspondingly large gap [when it fell], then the young tree in the honeysuckle’s embrace can be smothered.

Its untimely end, though unfortunate for the tree, brings us some pleasure when we craft its bizarrely twisted wood into walking sticks.”

—Peter Wohlleben The Hidden Life of Trees

We stayed in an old stone cottage beside Dubh Lochan and along Loch Lomond in the Trossachs National Park in Scotland. See the place here. The jet lag was horrendous. I lurched about the small, stout little Goldilocks home between the bedroom, living room couch and the glass conservatory outside and did nothing but try to sleep, try to stay awake, eat, drink and read for seven days.

In desperate need of a huge bag of cocaine and a pallet of Rip It energy drinks, but having to settle for pre-ground coffee, I set the kettle on the gas range and stumbled back into the living room and fell upon the couch before the hearth.

When I managed to muster the wherewithal to make it back to the kitchen plumes of black smoke were billowing from the plastic-bottomed electric kettle that sat aflame atop the gas stove.

Ahhhh! What the ****! Holy ****!

Fumbling about I managed to find something or other with which to fling the toxic flaming wreck out the back door onto the brick patio.

Later we purchased a replacement at Marks and Spencer. The owners gladly accepted the new kettle, and then deducted the cost for yet another one from our security deposit.

I made cowboy coffee instead. Pot. Boiling water. Coffee. Let it set. Pour it off the top. No need to confuse things and get fancy.

I read some mediocre forgettable fiction written by freshly published, highly educated authors with expensive degrees from world renowned universities. And I had along with me non-fiction including Wohlleben’s incredible little revelatory book about trees.

Between suffering the ravages of jet lag and reading his book I went for long walks down the small lane that ran along the lake out front and I wandered into and through the woods that surrounded our cottage eating wild berries and getting riddled like a pin cushion by swarms of the devilish wee highland midges.

One day in the midst of this tortuous delirium, seeking respite in the cool and moist woods so vastly different from the dry hot slopes of my natal land, I stumbled across this here honeysuckle vine just as I had read about it in Wohlleben’s book.

Related Post:

The Mighty Chanterelle and the Gnarly Oak

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Condor Cave Reference On Redwood Log, Disney California Adventure Park

Chumash pictograph, Santa Barbara County

“Native people drew spiral pictographs—sets of concentric rings radiating out from a center—on cave walls and rock shelters in locations where they are illuminated by the rising sun on the winter solstice. Solstice ceremonies, such as those practiced among the Chumash, acknowledged the seasonal change of the sun, which in turn affected the availability of plants and animals for food and other needs.”

—M. Kat Anderson, Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources

Ancient redwood log at Disney’s California Adventure.

A cross section of an ancient redwood tree that sprouted in 818 AD and died in 1937 is displayed at Disney California Adventure theme park in southern California.

Thirty small placards point to tree rings and note different events in California history during the tree’s lifespan.

The second oldest year labeled on the log after the tree’s sproutdate notes a sacred Chumash Native American place in the Los Padres National Forest in Santa Barbara County.

The prehistoric site, an abri in a sandstone outcrop in remote mountainous terrain, has been associated with the sun on the morning of winter solstice in a similar manner as mentioned above in the Anderson quote.

A small hole in the wall of the rock shelter is believed to have perhaps functioned as an aperture to allow in sunlight on the morning of the solstice as a means of signifying seasonal change during ritual observances.

The shelter is decorated with various petroglyphs and pictographs including what is said to be a condor in dramatic flight rendered in white from which the site takes its name. The condor was painted or drawn over a bear paw petroglyph.

One of the pictographs within the rock shelter shows what some scholars believe represents a sun priest in prayer raising arms to surround a sun.

On the way to this place, stands The Sign.

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Parks Management Company’s Red Rock Racket and the Secret Green Ticket

Kid on a rope.

Like a river, like a river, sh-
Like a river, like a river, sh-
Like a river, like a river
Shut your mouth and run me like a river

Bishop Briggs River

To the River.
The River.
To the River.
Yeah the River.
Shut your mouth and give me the green ticket to the River.

Parks Management Company employees will never tell you that you’re free to drive past their checkpoint at First Crossing, at the end of Paradise Road in Santa Barbara County, and park in unpaved pullouts along River Road on the way to Red Rock swimming hole and use the Santa Ynez River.

They will never voluntarily tell you this fact on their own accord.

Instead they demand you pay them money.

Apparently, as evidenced by their years-long routine behavior, Parks Management Company, in seeking to maximize profit, instead trains its employees not to readily inform the public of their right to pass and park without payment.

Apparently the corporate manager of our public lands seeks to fool as many people as possible into paying a fee that they are not legally obligated to pay in order to boost the company’s bottom line.

Why else would the company fail to address and fix this problem and instead do nothing about it? Why else do so many of their employees through the years always act the same?

The law is clear.

You are not obligated to pay Parks Management Company anything.

But they will not tell you this fact.

And they will attempt to make you believe that you cannot pass and cannot park to use the river unless you pay.

Sometimes these employees will lie while in pursuit of your money and will tell you information that is not true to make you think you are obligated to pay.

Sometimes these employees will threaten you with calling company management or the sheriff.

All of that has happened to me.

If you didn’t know better you’d be left with the impression that payment is lawfully required.

You might even believe that you were dealing with a ranger from the United States Forest Service instead of a company hack.

The way in which Parks Management Company has its operation set up in the checkpoint and the manner of the uniformed employees is a cheap imitation of a state or national park front gate entrance.

To the unknowing person it may be easy to confuse the booth and stop sign and all the other posted signs and the uniformed person pressing you for money with something other than a dishonest corporate employee trying to swindle you.

Yes. Swindle.

Parks Management Company is running a swindle, a racket, an outrage up on the Santa Ynez River.

I have for years argued with this company’s employees, as noted in the previous posts linked at the bottom here.

I have always won the argument, eventually.

Because the law is on my side, on our side.

Sometimes I was threatened with having the sheriff called on me. Sometimes management was called.

But I have always won the argument in the end. In the end I was always vindicated by being allowed to pass free of charge.

The secret green pass for free parking.

Charlie: So that’s why you sent out the golden tickets!

Willy Wonka: That’s right. So the factory is yours, Charlie. You can move in immediately.

Grandpa Joe: And me?

Willy Wonka: Absolutely.

Charlie: But what happens to the rest…?

Willy Wonka: The whole family. I want you to bring them all.

—From the movie adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

For the first time ever in my experience, starting this season, Parks Management is issuing a document acknowledging and proving what I and many other people have long argued is true.

The company will give you a bright green mirror hanger pass if you are parking in unpaved pullouts and not using the “improved” Day-Use areas with BBQ grills, picnic benches, pit toilets, and paved parking lots or the paved Red Rock parking lot.

The employee in the booth will not tell you this freely and will never hand this green pass over without being asked or even pressed.

Even when you ask them they may hesitate or resist.

On Memorial Day, when I asked for a green ticket, the lady did not readily hand one over.

She hesitated and began to hem and haw and was not forthcoming with the ticket. My wife seated beside me at the time commented on her hesitant behavior as we drove off after getting the ticket.

Only when I reached into my center console in my vehicle to grab an old green ticket and said something about having an example of what I wanted did she respond as necessary, as lawfully required.

Several days earlier this middle-aged blonde woman with short hair falsely stated that my children were using the Day-Use fee area when in point of fact they were not.

My children were swimming in the river.

And swimming in the river is not a pay-to-play for fee Day-Use activity. There is no question about this point. None whatsoever.

This lady of Parks Management ill repute lied to my face.

I instantly disputed her accusation. She backed down.

Why would she lie or misinform me?

Was she lying? Was she being intentionally misleading and dishonest?

Or was she making an honest mistake? Was she so poorly trained by Parks Management and ill prepared to carrying out her job that she told me something she thought was true but was false?

And if she made an honest mistake why hadn’t Parks Management Company educated her on this point and trained her accordingly when she took the job?

I am not sure of the answers to these questions.

But it’s a fact that such behavior on the part of their employees redounds to the financial benefit of Park’s Management Company when the unknowing public is pressured into paying fees based on this sort of misinformation.

It’s in the financial interests of the corporation to keep their employees ignorant of this issue regarding the right of the public to park and recreate without payment.

Is this the reason why so many of their employees so often tell me incorrect information when pressuring me for payment?

A person that was ripped off.

On several different days recently I took a look around at cars parked in dirt pullouts along River Road, where no fee is required, and all the vehicles had paid tickets hanging from mirrors or on the dash, as shown in the photo above.

All those people unknowingly paid a fee that they were not legally required to pay.

The people don’t know that Park’s Management Company is ripping them off.

Related posts on this blog:

Parks Management Company’s Red Rock Racket (2017)

Parks Management Company’s Red Racket Continues (2019)

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Carrizo Plain Elk Under Full Moon

Tule elk graze Carrizo Plain.

Two photographers perched before one end of Selby Rocks outcrop shooting the moon rising over the broken spine of white sandstone.

We drove past, along the meandering dirt road, through the undulating beige grassland, down into the flat of the vast Carrizo Plain.

We drove Soda Lake Road, toward home by way of Ventucopa, and before us spread an exceptional view matchless in my 20 years of brief and intermittent experiences on the plain.

A full moon shown large and luminous over a pink-tinged Temblor Range lit in warm sunset hues, the low sky beyond shadowed by the mountains was layered in the cool blues and violets of twilight, all brilliant to the human eye and mesmerizing to the mind, but mostly imperceptible to the cell phone camera and unreflected in the drab and puny image it captured in that moment.

And grazing the plain before the moon and mountains stood some 80 elk.

A moment later a San Joaquin kit fox bounded across the road and out into the plain.

I thought of the two photographers.

Their composition looked rather appealing and admirable as we had driven by, with the large white rocks in the grass and the full moon rising beyond.

If only they had known of the show playing just down the road.

Related Posts:

Pronghorn, Carrizo Plain National Monument

El Saucito Ranch House, Carrizo Plain (1878)

Night on Carrizo Plain, Tule Elk and Caliente Peak

Dragon’s Back Ridge, Carrizo Plain

Carrizo Tom

The Carrizo Experience: Ten Hours on the Plain IV

The Carrizo Experience: Ten Hours on the Plain III

The Carrizo Experience: Ten Hours on the Plain II

The Carrizo Experience: Ten Hours on the Plain I

Cave’s Eye View on the Carrizo Plain

Soda Lake Reflections, Carrizo Plain National Monument

Carrizo Plain Wildflowers: Temblor Range, San Luis Obispo County

Dragon’s Back Ridge on the San Andreas Fault, Carrizo Plain National Monument

Wallace Creek Offset at the San Andreas Fault, Carrizo Plain National Monument

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Wind Poppy (Papaver heterophyllum)

Rancho Nuevo Canyon, Dick Smith Wilderness (Early May, 2012)

“It is possible to be indifferent to flowers—possible but not very likely. Psychiatrists regard a patient’s indifference to flowers as a symptom of depression. It seems that by the time the singular beauty of a flower in bloom can no longer pierce the veil of black or obsessive thoughts in a person’s mind, that mind’s connection to the sensual world has grown dangerously frayed.”

—Michael Pollan, Botany of Desire

This here poppy, Papaver heterophyllum, is one of the lesser seen wildflowers in the hills around Santa Barbara County so far as I’ve seen in my few years and limited experience.

I saw a wind poppy at the mouth of Rancho Nuevo Canyon eight years ago.

Dusty David Stillman and I had just finished up a hike through the canyon—Deal Cyn, Rancho Nuevo Cyn 17 Mile Day Hike—and as we came off the trail I glanced over and spied wind poppies in bloom.

Seven years would pass before I saw another wind poppy.

I don’t think Mr. Stillman had any interest, which is not in any way to suggest he isn’t of sound mind. He’s solid like bedrock. Plants just do not interest him like they do me.

I’ve long been fascinated by the plant world and have been a grower of various plants since I was a small boy. When I was about ten years old I rode my bike down from the top of Hope Avenue to La Sumida Nursery on upper State Street, now no longer there, and bought a load of cactus which I somehow managed to transport back home. The clerk overlooked one of those plants and neglected to charge me and I remember feeling like I had won the lottery.

Later as a young adult I worked for Hilton Sumida at that same nursery together with the wife of Dick Smith’s son, for whom the Dick Smith Wilderness was named.

She held in her head an encyclopedic knowledge of plants and people would stop into the nursery all the time to pick her brain, and she always obliged the interrogators.

Once on the side of a mountain below Owen’s Peak in Indian Wells Canyon, Stillman peered over me in curiosity as if watching wildlife.

I had been collecting a can of granite gravel within which to plant the small piece of beaver tail cactus, Opuntia basilaris, I had just respectfully collected for my home collection.

“You’re a real weirdo, you know that?” he had said.

I couldn’t rightly deny the charge. Several years later the cactus offered up a single bloom, seen here.

Back to the Rancho Nuevo Canyon wind poppies. The flowers were freshly popped and new, but the lighting was weak shortly before sunset, the temperature cool and falling, and the blooms were already half closed hunkering down for night.

The poppies grew in a patch of grass between clumps of scorched chaparral. This was five years after the Zaca Fire burned the area in 2007.

The land in Rancho Nuevo Canyon was still in the early-successional stage of regrowth following the wildfire and the poppies appeared to thrive in this particular habitat.

Lost Valley, San Rafael Wilderness (Late May, 2019)

In May of 2019 a good friend and I ambled down Lost Valley Trail after two nights hiking and lounging around in the San Rafael Wilderness in the Santa Barbara backcountry.

The land still looked somewhat scorched from the Zaca Fire, although that fire was 12 years past. Or did another fire sweep the area after the Zaca? Fire has burned so much around this neck of the woods in recent years it can be hard to keep track.

Small pockets remained between the chaparral, yet to close over, where delicate annual herbaceous plants sprouted with gusto.

Here in one of these pockets, much like in Rancho Nuevo Canyon years earlier, right along the trail just before reaching the old rusty sign at Lost Valley Overlook, I glanced over and saw a number of wind poppies in bloom.

This was late May and the flowers were days old and on their way out, but still vibrant.

Wind poppies resemble fire poppies, previously noted on this blog: Fire Poppy (Papaver californicum). Without a careful look one may confuse the two.

Readers of that post may recall the fascinating relationship between fire and Papaver californicum and I imagine the same phenomenon may be at work with wind poppies:

The burning brush and trees of a wildfire produce chemicals found in smoke that regulate plant growth known as karrikins, which are deposited on the surface of the soil. When watered in by seasonal rains karrikins stimulate rampant germination and vigorous seedling growth.

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