Sunday, March 29, 2009

Early Summer

We've had some unseasonably warm days, even by San Diego standards. We have been frantically gardening and doing other outdoor activities and fooling ourselves into thinking it is summer. Here are some pictures of a summertime activity we are happy we can partake of in March. Honestly, I don't miss the snow days of my youth in North Dakota and Montana. So my apologies to all my northern and midwestern friends who are still digging out from March blizzards; maybe these pictures will help remind you that summer will come to you, too. (Eventually!) And as a reminder that if you need a break from your own bad weather, you can always come to San Diego-I love to play tour guide!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Boy, Dirt, Sunshine

To start a garden in the latter part of March is considered late in Southern California. My friends have already been reaping harvests of snap peas and asparagus, lettuce and spinach while I have been daydreaming of revamping my garden spot. I finally decided that it doesn't matter if the spot is they way I really want it-if the dirt is amended, I have compost and seeds, then it's time to plant. And because I am late this year, I have a sense of urgency to get it all in!! I am also in need of dirt on my hands. It's not enough for me to have my sweet boys to raise-I need to nurture some seedlings. I wonder if the sense of satisfaction I feel from growing our food and nurturing not just the plants but then my family as well, is the same sense of satisfaction God has in seeing His own creation flourish. There is something primally satisfying with the notion of being self suffient. Of knowing where my food comes from, that it is because of my tending the seeds become plants and the plants then bear fruit. And because I am actually a very impatient person, gardening fits my personality. I can watch my progess and within a few months finish what I have started.

Jonah, age 4, was thrilled with our plan for the day. We live exactly one mile from Home Depot so we decided to walk. Jonah loaded up the wagon with snacks and drinks and doggy treats. I got the leash and the dog and we were off! Jonah sang as I pulled. Rocket the dog was just as thrilled as Jonah to be on an all morning outing. So thrilled in fact, that he pranced the whole way there. He tried to walk 'normal' but his tail was wagging so fast it caused his backside to move horizontally and try to catch up with his front.

When we got to Home Depot, we left the wagon and the dog outside the garden area. We found out that dogs are welcome inside Home Depot- or maybe it was just because Rocket was having an anxiety attack being left 'alone' that, rather than deal with his freak out, they let me take him with me! Jonah was insistant of getting his OWN flowers and seeds. He also picked out our tomatoes and squash plants. His seeds include spinach and pumpkin. He took his job of 'flower picker outer' very seriously. He wandered the aisles and picked out a flower, smelled it, put it back, picked out another, put it back. He finally settled on a large container of pink Gerbera Daisies. He said he liked them because they looked "friendly." Little does he know that Gerberas are indeed my favorite flower for the exact same reason!

So we loaded our prizes back into the wagon-Jonah complaining of being 'squished'. He suggested I hold the dog, the wagon AND the plants while I pull him. I asked him how I would do that with only two hands. He shrugged. "I dunno- you're the mommy..." We finally settled on him holding his Gerbera and setting some of the other plants on top of each other.

One the mile walk back home, Jonah decided I was going too slow. "Tie Rocket to the wagon, Mommy! He's super fast!" He finally got so disgusted with my lack of speed that he climbed out to pull it himself. After going past about three driveways, he decided that I was indeed right-the wagon is heavy and I can't go any faster.

He had a renewed sense of energy once we got home and was very helpful with digging. He even gently planted the tomatoes and back filled the dirt around them. We spent the whole morning and some of the afternoon planting. We now have purple string beans, bell peppers, tomatoes, chives, cilantro. We still have our zucchini to plant but I have another area of ground to till and prepare before they can go in. We also have our pumpkin seeds. They will wait until summer to be planted. I also have a row of spinach and lettuch that need to be planted. I am hoping to still have room for carrots and radishes. I am sure that Jonah will be happy to help. I only hope that he is as thrilled to eat the veggies as he is to plant them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve

The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve is located West of Muiretta and Wildomar, CA. It is home to some of the continent's last vernal pools. Urban sprawl has caused much of the extinction of these small yet important eco systems. Located in the plateaus of the southern Santa Ana Mountains, the topography is a rolling range of native grassland, chaparral, scrub oak and rangesup to 2000 feet in elevation. The wildlife in this nearly 4000 acre reseve is vast. There are lizards, snakes owl, rodents-including the badger, cougar, coyote, muledeer and more. And of course, in the spring, the vernal pools. (Vernal, in Greek, means Spring.) The pools also have a vast ecosystem in and of themselves. Of the most curious is the fairy shrimp. The eggs can lie dormant for centuries-buried in the dirt and then, when the conditions are right, can hatch 100's of years after they have been deposited. The water is brachish, even though it is miles from the ocean. You can smell the salty organic scent of decomposing plantlife, shrimp and algae. You will also hear the constant drone of crickets as you walk through the grassland and over the boardwalk that will take you over the biggest of the vernal pools. Watch you kids! Don't let them fall in or even stick their fingers in the water. Our very skin can affect the growth and demise of these precious resources. Remind them to 'look with your eyes, not your hands..." Here are some pictures of our family enjoying our day at the reserve.