Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spring in Mendocino County

We don't really get spring here in Northern California, at least not like they do in places where there are real seasons. Sometimes it snows as late as May or even June where I live, which is at an altitude of about 2800 feet. So we're often right on the snow line, and when I look out across the hills to the west, everything is green, while I'm standing in snow. When I drive down to town with snow all over my car, people know where I came from and often laugh and wave. They drive "up the hill" to our area to gawk or sometimes get out and try sliding down a hill on a piece of cardboard. We're too busy trying to keep warm to mess around with stuff like that.

This late snow business wreaks havoc on our fruit trees, as they often get nipped with frost and snow late into the spring months. For this reason and other more stupid ones, I have a nectarine tree in my greenhouse. It takes up about half the space and has to be trimmed at the top to keep it from growing out the roof, but we often get a bushel or two of really tasty nectarines in September.

Anyhow, this is where I've been off and on since early March. Not much happening in the hat business since nobody is buying anything, so I get to do all kinds of other things. Like catch up with some of the work around my cabin and finish non hat related projects.

A couple of weeks ago I left Berkeley to go stay at the cabin for awhile because the weather was so warm and wonderful. The plum and pear trees were blooming, and there were wild flowers everywhere. It was nippy enough at night to need a fire in the wood heater, but during the day, it was in the high 70's.

There was a flock of about 20 wild turkeys hanging around down the hill from the cabin. They're really ugly until they fan their tails, which changes everything. They have to hold their heads up high in order to do this, so about all they can do is strut around showing off, while the rest of the flock gets to peck at the ground getting all the yummy bugs and such.

Two days later it snowed. The weather report said it was going to, but I was sitting in the sun in a tee shirt as I listened to the radio, and I just didn't believe it. Then about an hour later, the temperature started to drop, and when I got up in the night to feed the fire I could hear that old familiar very soft swooshing noise that snow makes as it falls on the roof.

So I got all excited and got up before dawn to take a look. Sure enough snow all over the place. I grabbed my camera and went out to take photos. They came out looking almost black and white in the pre-dawn light. Then I took a couple of vids of the snow coming at me and swirling about the house and my little meditation room. By then it was a bit lighter.

My cat was not about to go out and just stayed glued to the window watching. So I went back inside and stoked the fire, fed the cat and made some tea. By then the sun was up and peaking through the clouds, and the snow had mostly stopped. By ten o'clock there was enough sun on the solar panels to feed my computer and the toaster. Believe me, toast is a treat when you're living the rustic life off the grid.

I got a couple more photos of the sun on the snow then got back to the normal routine of chores, hauling in wood for the fire and working on my various projects. It was still good and cold, but I knew that spring would be back again in a couple of days.

Now I'm getting ready to go back up for another couple of weeks with my family. We'll be doing fun things like moving the stove, getting the heater in the meditation room fixed and cleaning out the shed. My daughter and son in law are coming up from LA, and they love doing this stuff. I guess if I lived in LA I'd be pretty glad to get away, too! Maybe we'll have a birthday party for my daughter. Mmm, carrot cake and maybe ice cream, since it'll probably hot again by then.