Wednesday, October 15, 2014

nature cruel and kind

The calendar says it's fall, the north wind is blowing, leaves are falling. We don't have the lovely fall color: most things are just more brown, an adaptation to long dry summers and late rains.

The weather didn't quite cooperate: this weekend was 90 degrees again. But I'd been gone for a week on a great vacation (more on that later) and wanted to ride my horse! He was more than happy to head out. I wanted to ride the lake trail, but the wind was blowing, my horse was way too fresh, and I opted for an easier option.

I headed out along the road, and was sadly reminded again of how rural and urban life clash. I ride along a long, tall fence, completely encircling a fancy neighborhood, where they have to protect their rural property from any semblance of nature. Recently the fence has even been reinforced, to keep out the deadly bunnies, skunks, coyotes and bobcats. I have seen deer pacing this fence, and a bobcat slipping beneath, the special things I see here. But not for those people.

lovely trail, unlovely fence

must keep out even the tiny critters

Sadly there is a deer that didn't make it through the fence. Probably hit by a car, it is now mummified, as the useful creatures that could feed on it are scared of the nearby road and unwelcoming fence. When it was "less dead" it made Major a little nervous, now it just smells like earth and bones.

poor mummified thing

I was a bit depressed as we turned on the main trail. I already don't like fall: darker days, colder nights, everything dying. And now just more proof of the bad activities humans do that hurt nature. But I was on my horse, the best tonic. The trails are dusty, but the views are great, when I can slow him down enough to look. The poison oak is mostly dormant, the buckeye seeds hang overhead, and I didn't see a single soul on the trail.

the trail disappears between rocks, one of my favorite places

low lake, but still not tired of this view
California buckeye tree, also know as: testicle tree

And coming home we wandered through the forest, walking quietly, So quietly we were able to stop for a reclusive bobcat. He nonchalantly walked along, saw us, took notice that we seemed to be no threat, and continued up the trail. He was carrying some dinner: a large gray squirrel. Major and I just watched him go, then continued on, a little quieter.

And I was reminded how nature heals, if we leave it alone. And all the necessary things that happen in each season. And how just being quiet can show us more than too many words can.


  1. Loved this post. Beautifully written. And I always love your trail photos!

  2. It really is sad.. the people/nature thing and a bit of a contradiction. So often, we see people move out of the cities to be more "rural" and then fence themselves in.
    Fall is my favorite time of year here but I hate what it represents..just like you mention.. Long dreary cold and icey days with bad footing for us!

    Buckeye tree.. never heard of that before. Is the seed useful for anything?

    1. The buckeye seed is pretty but poisonous. The tree drops all leaves early in the season, usually by July, to conserve water. It is one of the first to leaf out in spring, super lime green leaves, and has big, upright flowers (which I joke makes it the penis tree, gutter mind here obviously!) I didn't know but just read that the flowers are also toxic to the imported European honeybee. I know that nothing here seems to eat it!

  3. The difference in climates between your part of CA and WV is striking in the decay of that deer! The humidity/rain here would never let a deer decay in such a manner. How very interesting! (And morbid, but hey, I'm a biologist!)

    1. the climate, that's another interesting concept. Here they're usually torn apart by larger predators (coyote, bobcat, racoon), then scavenged by the smaller, and/or the vultures get them. I've never seen one mummified like this, I thought it was cool too. The deer has been there since about June, though when it was quite fresh it did make the horses much more nervous.