Windshield Views (2/2/13)

Yesterday was a clear, brisk, winter day.

The rainbird sprinklers were spritzing the soil to prepare for seedlings and transplants of leafy greens and cole crops. Mini-rainbows and prisms danced in the arch of the sprinklers’ sprays. 

Think about this the next time you eat a salad! You are consuming rainbows – literally!

Windshield Views (2/10/13)

Ah! Late winter on the Central Coast resembles a photographic negative. There has been enough rain that the hills are Irish green, yet the trees remain leafless, while the tree bark has a shiny, bleached appearance. Dramatic and grey, scudding clouds create puddles of contrast between brilliant green grass and platinum trees trunks and shadows.

If you are paying attention, you notice when the trees shift from winter to spring. By the river, there is a chartreuse aura around each group of alders and cottonwoods. This signals bud break! The willows are already blooming and leafing and far ahead of the race to spring.  

Most exciting, three blossoms on my old bellwether almond tree are beacons of season-change, as they gleamed through this morning’s dense fog. 

Spring is imminent!!

Windshield Views (2/26/13)

I chased the white rainbow! 

This morning, there was a heavy fog along the Salinas River, which parallels Hwy 101. As I drove northwest, the rising sun behind me was at such an angle that it made a prism through the vapor.  Instead of the expected colored rainbow, there was a special effect, as if I were driving into an receding grey cup with an iridescent and vibrating white rim.

It was eerie, extraordinary and mystical. 

Windshield Views (3/13/13)

I saw a large flock of wild turkeys on the East side of Highway 101 this morning. They are not such a rare sight on the Central Coast, but, this morning was special.

The toms were a-fuss with the rights of spring and had their tail feathers on full display. The slanting early sun backlit the fan to create a stained glass of feathers. Quill tips were a brilliant blue/white against dark umber.

You can’t tell me that the boys didn’t know exactly where the sun was and how to best present themselves  to get the ladies’ attention!

Windshield Views (3/26/13)

Crystalline, blazing days make us happy, but they sere the landscape; turning southerly exposures to toasted powder while pale green grasses remain in cooler glens.

Our tree friends suffer. It is only March, and already, their life-giving transpiration streams are breaking as they strain to pump water to their extremities. The oaks and cottonwoods are working so hard for water that they drop huge limbs to survive. They give meaning to the term “to be torn asunder”! 

It is going to be a long, dry season with only 3 inches of rain to see us through until October.

Windshield Views (4/24/13)

Colors in The San Joaquin Valley are most vivis and pure with no summer haze or winter fog to dilute their intensity. 

Almonds are fully leafed, and from afar, at 70 MPH, the border trees resemble bright-green, lacey fans against the dark green of the orchard middles.

Table-top-level wheat and barley fields are ripening and are a delicate shade of yellow.

Hay fields have been harvested and stacks of golden bales stand out the horizontal smear of orchards on the horizon.

Windshield Views (5/1/13)

Every spring, the Locust trees take me by surprise. They smell heavenly when they bloom.

These trees are humble markers of abandoned homesteads. They were planted as quick-growing, bits of shade. The trees are short-lived and their brittle trunks make lousy firewood. Their shape is not particularly attractive or graceful. But, oh! When they bloom, this common, ungainly tree becomes magical aromatherapy.

Note: I learned in Trail of Tears, The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation, by John Ehle, that the Cherokees fermented honey locust seeds to make beer. Maybe, that is why we see one on so many abandoned homesteads? Maybe, those pioneers werent quite the teetotalers we thought they were. And I always thought they were planted for shade

Windshield Views (7/18/13)

Processing Tomatoes

This was a tough year for the tomato growers in the San Joaquin Valley. The growers struggled with Tomato Curly Top, a virus infestation that impacted yields. Now, despite production challenges, truckload after truckload of ‘maters are brilliant bursts of crimson along this arid strip of highway. The trucks race north on I-5 from the fields to the Morning Star, DelMonte, and Boswell processing plants.

Those bright, juicy, orbs will ultimately sit in my pantry as jars of salsa, cans of paste, and bottles of catsup!