Category Archives: California

Flapjack

Octopuses occasionally occupy the ocean floor.

“While diving off the central California coast, the team of E/V Nautilus encountered this Flapjack Octopus (named for its ear flaps) lingering on the sea floor.”- EVNautilus via You Tube

Flapjack or Opisthoteuthis californiana via Monterey Bay Aquarium on You Tube. The octopus looks red because it is being illuminated by a red light which it can’t see and thinks it is in the dark. This little octopus is a rare find in the ocean.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is hosted by Linda G Hill. Today’s  “prompt for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “oc.” Find a word that starts with “oc” and use it in your post. Bonus points if you start and end with your post with an “oc” word.”

Redwood

Rachel Baum was looking forward to another opportunity to get out in the forest. Her job as a biologist at UC Berkeley was the study of the effect of climate change on Redwood trees. In recent years there was a growing alarm at the rapid changes in the California climate and how it was stressing the trees. Many felt it could be reaching a tipping point with how long the trees could adapt and survive. Her work sometimes required her to climb to the top of a 300 foot tree to check instruments that monitored the weather up in the canopy.
Rachel loved the spectacular views from the canopy and listening to the wind in the leaves. She came to the grove with another biologist who remained on the ground. Josh would send up any needed supplies with a pulley. There had been reports of a storm front moving in but Rachel and Josh thought they would have enough time. As she reached the top of the tree she heard a loud rumbling and looked up to see dark clouds rolling in.
“We better make this quick, Rachel,” Josh called over the two-way radio.
“I just want to check the fog monitor and then I will head down.”
Rachel was reaching over to the monitor when she saw the little Spotted Owl on a lower branch.

Female Spotted Owl

She was about to catch a quick photo when she felt the hair rise on the back of her neck. The lightning hit a nearby tree sending chunks of wood exploding through the air. A large piece hit Rachel.
Rachel was traveling through a tunnel. She felt the tunnel closing in on her body, squeezing. She thought she heard a young woman cry out and then she forgot about her life on Earth as she came into a new world. The midwife smiled as she welcomed this new life. Her parents named her Alexandria.

Alexandria Mata was one of the first babies born in the Mars colony. Her parents were part of the first colonists to live on Mars. They were both botanists working on plant cultivation. Growing up Alex liked exploring the gardens and small nature areas that were part of the biosphere. Her parents often found her reading her books under one of the few trees. Alex loved stories about trees. She grew up to be a botanist like her parents and her affinity for trees continued. Many of her contemporaries considered her a bit odd for her interest in Forest Biology because, as they told her, the forests are gone on Earth and there would be no forests on Mars. There was one friend who shared her interest in trees, Jeff Kimura. His focus was paleobotany, the study of fossil plants.

776px-Concept_Mars_colony NASA

Artist concept Mars Colony via NASA

Alex was working the day a small package arrived in a shipment from Earth. The contents of the box were not revealed by the label which said it had come from the University of California, Berkeley. As she opened it she found a note from a biologist. I hope you can find a home for this specimen of Sequoia Sempervirens and help this majestic spirit survive in the universe. Most of theses trees had been lost on Earth during the Great Drought of  2030-2045 when there were years of little rain with many months of wild fires. Global warming had denied the moisture giving fog to the giant trees and the drought dried out the soil and the surrounding undergrowth. The fires did the rest. Alex wanted to show the seedling to Jeff but he was at a dig site on Olympus Mons.

Olympus Mons was an old shield volcano and one of the tallest mountains in the solar system. Jeff’s team hoped that the volcano had some buried secrets in its slopes. They were looking for signs of earlier plant life on the planet.  Jeff knew Alex would be very interested in what they discovered, part of a fossilized forest.

“Jeff, this is fantastic, proof of ancient forests on Mars! When will you get some specimens back here?”

“We have them here now if you want to come over to my lab.”

” Right away!”

Word spread fast among the scientists and Alex found a large group in the Botany lab. The lead paleobotanist, Dr. Albero, was speaking. ” The microscopic evaluation of the fossils suggest these trees were ancestors of Sequoia Sempervirens, or Coast Redwoods.”

“How could Mars and Earth have the same trees? “ Alex thought, incredulous.

After the announcement people broke up into smaller groups to talk about the discovery. Jeff signaled to Alex. She walked over to a corner of the room where he was standing.

“Can you believe it, Coast Redwoods on Mars?

“We found a body.”

“What! Where?”

“We found a body buried near the trees.”

“What kind of body? What did it look like?”

“Like this.” Jeff showed Alex a photo he had stored on his communicator.

“Oh my God! This proves there were humanoids here on Mars.”

“Well there was one anyway.”

“Why wasn’t the discovery of this body announced?”

“Dr. Albero wants to discuss it with some higher-ups at NASA. He thinks this discovery might cause some panic in the colony.”

The colony leaders called for a community meeting the following week. Dr. Albero was asked to speak about the discovery.

“I know there have been rumors about the other discovery made on Olympus Mons. We found the body of a humanoid buried near the petrified forest. Further testing on the remains indicates that this humanoid is genetically related to us.”

******

The expedition found two planets in the solar system with environments compatible to their home world. They decided to introduce some of their flora prior to colonization to see if it could survive. They planted some seedlings from one of their most revered and beloved trees.

 

Ancient Coast Redwoods tower above hikers at Simpson Reed Grove Trail

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.” – John Steinbeck


More information about climate change and the Redwoods. And 100 Practical Ways to Reverse Climate Change: Drawdown.

Featured Image ‘Growth, plant’ by Antranias on Pixabay.com. Image of ‘Female Spotted Owl’ by Emily Brauwer of the US National Park Service via wikimedia. Image of ‘Petrified Wood,  Petrified Forest National Park, USA’ via Pixabay.com. Image of ‘Mummy’ from British Museum Collection by Klafubra on wikimedia. Image of Coast Redwoods in Redwood National Park via US National Park Service.

This post is part of the Write…Edit…Publish #WEP#ff December Challenge, The End is the Beginning hosted by Denise Covey, Yolanda Renee, Nilanjana Bose, and Olga Godim.

Word Count:  990 (excluding quote)

Full Critique

WEP CHALLENGE FOR DECEMBER ............THE END IS THE BEGINNINGS

Wild Fires

” When you’re evacuating from a wild fire it’s hard to decide what to take with you.”

My ability to write provides a path for expression about my life experiences. I am often moved to write when my feelings about a thing run high. Maybe a part of being a writer is the need to chronicle your life.

I thought we had been lucky and avoided the fire season in our section of Southern California. But as it often happens, the fires have their own secret plans. We were evacuated from our home a little over 10 years ago in the middle of the night so this time we decided not to wait until the evacuation order to get packed. Experiencing an evacuation does that to you. You know it can come suddenly, with little warning, and you must go. There had been no evacuation orders yet but we were busy gathering a few mementos and family photos, our wedding album, videos of our kids growing up and my son’s bar mitzvah, a small photo album of my son’s wedding, a few precious notes from my daughter, our kid’s baby shoes…It’s hard to decide and remember what to take with you. My son and daughter in law had to pack up all the equipment in their car for my little baby grandson, just in case. It’s not just the fires but the threat of power outages. Some medical equipment he needs requires electricity. We talked about them coming to our house or her parents depending on who loses power. If all of us lose power they may have to go into West LA to other family. We can see the smoke in the air and hope the Santa Ana winds die out soon.


This post is for One Liner Wednesday hosted by Linda G Hill and the monthly post for the Insecure Writers Support Group, #IWSG , Co-Hosts: Julie Flanders, Shannon Lawrence, Fundy Blue, and Heather Gardner!

 

Psst There’s A Squirrel In The Pyracantha

Our Pyracantha tree and Heavenly Bamboo are filling up with berries. I can tell the berries are ripe when the birds and squirrels start eating them. It’s a bountiful crop this year. I spotted a squirrel munching on the Pyracantha berries and caught a photo before he/she scampered off. (Click on photos to enlarge). I can tell when the squirrels are in the tree, even before I see them, because the branches start shaking. They have been known to perform acrobatic stunts, like hanging by their feet upside down while eating. They are able to clean all the berries off the tree in a couple of weeks or less with the help of the birds. Psst, I think I see a branch shaking.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is hosted by Linda G Hill. The worst for today is an attention getting sound and/or “psst.” Featured imaged ‘Gray Squirrel’ via wikimedia.

A Swarm Of Butterflies

Recently saw an ad for an inn in Santa Cruz that mentioned the Monarch butterflies which migrate to winter in California at this time of year. One of the sites mentioned was the Natural Bridges Preserve.  I know they migrate closer to me in Southern California as well. In October a 70 mile-wide swarm of butterflies showed up on weather radar in Denver, Colorado. You might automatically think of Monarchs but these were Painted Ladies which look a bit like Monarchs but are smaller.

The first video is by Bear SF showing two places to see Monarchs in California on You Tube:

 

 

View through binoculars at Pacific Grove, Ca. Butterfly Sanctuary

A swarm of butterflies, a swarm of dragonflies, or a swarm of honeybees; better than a swarm of locusts or a swarm of fleas.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is hosted by Linda G Hill. The prompt word for today is “arm.” It may be used alone or as part of a word. Featured image of Monarch butterflies via wikipedia.

Something You Otter Know

Q: What do you call a group of resting otters?

A: A raft. To keep from drifting away from each other, sea otters will wrap themselves up in seaweed, forming something that resembles a raft.

Group or Raft of Sea Otters via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

This is Sea Otter Awareness Week according to US Department of the Interior.  Click on the links and see more images and read 12 interesting things about our sea otters.

 


Featured image of Sea Otters in waters around Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska by Becky King of the National Park Service. Giff of Sea Otter from Monterey Bay Aquarium via Giphy.com

One Liner Wednesday is hosted by Linda G Hill.

weds