The sheer display of biodiversity found along beautiful Clear Lake never ceases to amaze daytrippers–myself included. Although the term biological diversity was introduced by J. Arthur Harris in 1916, it was Walter G. Rosen who coined the term biodiversity to discuss the richness and variety of species, according to famed entomologist E. O. Wilson. On any given day, the lake flaunts her moods with brooding blue waters, matching grey-blue clouds bunched overhead, ringed by you got it, blue-hued hills. Regarding all of those blue tones, The National Institute of Health tells us that the color blue proves powerful in aiding in improving the moods of many people. Psychology Today magazine says that the color blue makes many people feel more comfortable and calm. No wonder we gravitate toward lakes, streams, and waterways. Clear Lake’s gently lapping shores whisper the same story heard for thousands of years, when the indigenous Pomo people inhabited the vicinity and called it home. The Big Valley Pomo or Xabenapo Pomo, Southeastern Pomo and Lile’ek Wappo hunted, gathered and fished nearby.
Today, many Pomo and other Indigenous groups thrive and work in what is now Lake County, bringing back their culture and traditions for both their people and the public. Tule boat races, basket weaving, and other Indigenous art forms are occurring more frequently. Another example of cultural resurgence is the artwork displayed by Indigenous people at the Middletown Art Center such as that of Meyo Marrufo’s “Birds, Baskets, and Other Thoughts” along with the ongoing Water Basket project. The Water Basket project has plans to paint basket-themed art on Middletown’s two water tanks located up on the Lake County Land Trust’s Rabbit Hill. But I digress.
California is a biodiversity hotspot according to plant biologists such as Dr. Matt Ritter, who wrote ‘California Plants- A Guide to our Iconic Flora’. Our state is host to three major biomes found in our forests, desert lands, and the Great Basin, which creates our desired Mediterranean climate. In our state, we have such an array of ecological niches that over 6,500 native plant species thrive here. Around the vicinity of Clear Lake alone, there are numerous native plant species such as black walnut, tule reeds, various oaks, willows, buckeye trees, and more. Consider the biological complexity found in just one oak tree and the myriad lives it maintains. What a giving tree! Oaks play host to woodpeckers and other bird species, lichens, mistletoe, insects, squirrels, mosses, and more. These trees are dependent upon their need for soil nutrients, sunlight and water. Some of the ancient grandmother trees have been dropping acorns to sustain human and animal life for hundreds of years. Evidence of some old oaks that finally succumbed to decades of drought or just plain old age can be found throughout the landscape. Among oaks’ many remarkable features is their ability to retain moisture in summer heat and windy conditions. Many contain a waxy cuticle in order to hold in precious moisture. The tree’s annual leaf-drop is another coping mechanism. This ability allows the trees to survive the wintry weather conditions. As it sheds leaves it will soon need to draw upon water and nutrients in order to produce a new crop of spring leaves.
The syncopated seasons invite us to look carefully to nature and her fierce beauty for daily inspiration. Although there are juicy mysteries strewn all about in the dazzling diversity we are privy to have the benefit of, many of the stories tell themselves clearly as we take a walk in nature’s bounty.