Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fresno, CA

On the first day of a trip up north to visit relatives, my family and I spent our first night at our cousin Colleen's house in Fresno, CA.

Colleen is actually my granddad's cousin.  Now in her eighties, she is full of amazing stories recalling her work on the Manhattan Project and as a spy in Asia during the 1950's, where she was able to put to use her talent for doing what she's most interested in -- "blowing things up."  She's a scientist and an incredibly gifted artist, with a large house filled with her own paintings and antiques, but it is her garden which most fascinates me every time I visit.

Colleen's yard includes every variety of native California oak, Western Redbud trees, California Redwoods and various other native and exotic plants -- many with very interesting histories to go along with them.  It's a pleasant place to stay, drink fresh well water, and enjoy the salubrious climate of California's Central Valley.

On this trip, I learned that a Blue Oak (pictured above) has longer, skinnier leaves than the Coast Live Oaks I am so familiar with in the Southland (below) 

After having planted a Western Redbud tree in my front yard, I was happy to see an abundance of these native trees throughout Colleen's front yard (below)

Colleen had planted some Matilija Poppies, because she wanted to paint the flowers.  She also had a scrub oak from the Sierra Nevada Foothills which one of her students had dug up and brought to her years ago.

Several of Colleen's paintings hang in my house, in my room and even in my brother's dorm, yet I am always blown away by her work every time I see more of it…

The author with an Engelmann, a.k.a. Pasadena Oak Tree
Although I'm just a kid from the Arroyo, it's trips up north like these which remind me of what it means to be a Californian… There's always something changing along Highway 99, and usually for the worse.  I am so thankful that a place like Colleen's holds true to the sense of place that defines our great state.  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Take a Tour of the Site of Pasadena's New Athletic Field

This video, created by the Arroyo Seco Foundation's watershed coordinator Jonathan Frame, depicts the precious native California habitat which is currently under threat of development by the city of Pasadena's "Multi-benefit/Multi-use" project.

Some of my previous posts on the Arroyo Sage blog have addressed the issues of habitat loss and of the neglect and pollution of the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena.  Unless the Pasadena City Council decides against this project, we can unfortunately expect much more of both to occur at Hahamongna Watershed Park.