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KATHLEEN SCAVONE

Experience Nylander Park and Clark’s Island in Clearlake Oaks

With myriad outdoor opportunities available in Lake County, sometimes it’s easy to overlook the small parks that dot the landscape. Two such parks are found in Clearlake Oaks, where you can picnic, fish, or simply bird-watch – Clarks Island and Nylander Park. Both provide a shady interval from a busy day. 

Savoring the Hours of Flowers

Solar-powered flowers of spring and summertime have a way of putting a smile on everyone’s face. It’s comforting to observe the quiet and gentle unfolding of spring each year. I like to look for the ‘usual suspects’: flowers that show up almost like clockwork, such as plentiful poppies in the fields along Lake County highways, or the shade-craving trillium that materialize as stealthily as a grazing deer under the pines, appearing almost prehistoric with three petals and three bracts or modified leaves. Native trillium is understood to be a ‘tri flower’ and is also known as wake-robin. Trillium proliferates in the gentle climates of North America and Asia.

Lichen: Lessons from Nature

When the tumult of water across the lands of Lake County subsides, and the cotton-puff clouds sit complacently above, what better time to find and focus on life forms like lichen. Wetness adds wonder to small things, changing it. The transformation from desiccation to plump, pliable greenery is remarkable. Nature never holds back, and there is always something new to meet the eye; and an already gorgeous sight is improved with a closer look.

Exploring the Rich History and Ecological Significance of Putah Creek

Lake County possesses numerous creeks that lazily wind around our watershed.

Putah Creek is a key creek in our county. It can be found zigzaging down from the headwaters in the Mayacamas Mountains where it originates down to the Yolo Bypass tributary. The creek’s source is attributed to springs found on Cobb Mountain’s eastern side, set among the native alder and willow trees that shade the charming, cool pools which are ideal for trout. This watercourse surges through three counties: Lake, Napa and Solano.

Pondering the Night Skies of Lake County and Beyond

In between storm clouds, we enjoy night views of the inconceivable vastness of space here in Lake County, thanks, in part, to our own Friends of Taylor Observatory and their pursuit of Dark Sky Certification from the International Dark Sky Association. Friends of Taylor Observatory (foto) works in partnership with the Lake county Office of Education by enhancing STEM education opportunities for Lake County’s K-12 students.

Preserving Heritage, Embracing Nature: Exploring Xabatin Community Park

I took the opportunity while visiting Lakeport to check out its newest park, Xabatin Community Park with some friends not long after its grand opening. We had some time before attending a performance at the wonderful Soper Reese Theater. As we strolled the park’s grounds, we noted that the park was well-attended with people who spanned the spectrum of age. There were kids having a blast riding their skateboards in the dedicated skate park, folks enjoying the lake view from a cozy park bench, dog walkers promenading with their leashed pooches, picnic areas, a basketball court, and more!

Fog

The interplay of land and fog,

Multiple micro-systems

Display dissimilar versions of vapor.

In places it floats, or rolls, billows or mists.

Energy captured and released in slow motion,

Vaporous kaleidoscope of muted winter colors:

Tan, brown, beige and grey.

Fog descends, deep penetrating cold,

Infiltrates my lungs, clings to clothes.

Drive Soda Bay Road for snapshots

Of a cotton-covered lake,

Panoramic Mt. Konocti framed by fog,

Wild nature sound of coots muted

As they disappear in a wet cloud.

Fog fades, a lone kayaker materializes from the mist,

Fog filters, sifts the past into the present,

Nature’s timeline.

Fine Feathers

A feather is a teacher. Finding a single feather along a trail is a lovely gift from nature. Changing seasons can bring about a transition in the life of a bird. Birds molt or drop feathers as their plumage breaks down, typically in spring or summer, however some, such as tree swallows drop some of their feathers prior to winter migration, then miraculously resume their molt as they reach their desired destinations.

Under the Weather

After so many extreme drought years, I find it exhilarating to be under the weather. No, not that kind, but under my rain umbrella with my rain boots on, exploring shiny wet surfaces of manzanita limbs, water drops as they create spherical worlds on leaves, and the mesmerizing ripples of drops on a puddle! We are all under the weather.

Coyote Tales

How lucky can a person be? I happened to look up at the right time early one morning and watched as a shaggy blonde coyote trotted under the bay trees toward the creek. A closer look would reveal that the coyote’s coat was actually a mixture of tans, grays, and browns. Had I looked up a moment later, or sooner, for that matter, I would have missed it!

Antlions – That’s the Pits!

Have you ever walked by a cone-shaped indentation in the soil and wondered what it was? I always believed those artful little craters were caused by industrious squirrels. It turns out, those are antlion pits! Antlions are also called ‘doodle bugs’ because of another art form they create, that being squiggle-like marks they formulate on the ground.

Making a Comeback: Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Forest

Little by little, Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Forest (BMDSF) is becoming a destination for hikers, picnickers, and other nature lovers once again. It was evident on a recent hike up there on lovely Gail’s Trail that work crews had been hard at work with maintenance and infrastructure improvements.

Mountain Lions- Our Wild Neighbors

The roving and secretive mountain lions of Lake County live in our densely tangled slopes, canyons, and forests. The mountain lion is masterful at remaining hidden, however, it does make its presence known from time to time. Most recently, a mountain lion was spotted on a south county resident’s critter cam after it made a meal of some plump sheep. With all of the deer in the vicinity, it was a hard reminder that livestock and pets are vulnerable as well.

Pacific Tree Frogs – The Call of the Wild

You’ve probably seen Pacific tree frogs in your porch planters, nearby trees and in ponds. Same here, since these two-inch marvels reside up and down the Pacific coast, from British Columbia, south to Baja California. Lately, a pair of these beautiful amphibians have been hanging out in my pottery barn sink!

Rodman Preserve: One of Lake County Land Trust’s Treasures

The alchemy of photosynthesis worked its magic on grasses, trees and wildflowers across the landscape of Lake County after the rains finally arrived. Kelly green tempera paint colors outline the forest, while lush tree trunks are alive with mosses. At Rodman Preserve you can take a Saturday walk when the Lake County Land Trust (LCLT) opens its gates to the Preserve’s hundreds of acres. Rodman Preserve and Nature Center is located at 6350 Westlake Road in Upper Lake. We were welcomed at the property’s entrance by the breathtaking view of one of the resident ospreys as it flew above us with its prey secured in its talons! Rodman Preserve was acquired in order to safeguard the land’s natural habitat and preserve the existing wildlife area with its prolific nesting, feeding and breeding environs.

Discovering CLERC: The Clear Lake Environmental Research Center

Have you ever heard of CLERC? CLERC stands for Clear Lake Environmental Research Center. CLERC is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization now located in Lakeport in the historic Carnegie Library building at Library Park. The threads of CLERC’s tapestry are far-reaching and address the needs of our unique county through their varied projects and programs. The purpose of CLERC, as mentioned on their interesting website is ” To bring science, education, government, tribal and business groups together to resolve issues involving Clear Lake, to study the unique properties of Clear Lake and the surrounding area and, to coordinate programs and projects that focus on solutions to environmental and economic problems locally and worldwide.”

A Water’s Eye View of Clear Lake

The glistening waters of ancient Clear Lake beckoned one chilly, late spring morning as some friends and I boarded the Eyes of the Wild pontoon boat piloted by Faith Rigolosi for a lake tour. Although the shores were already growing a tangle of weeds not often seen this early in the season, Faith was able to tour the lake with ease. This popular destination lake is around seventy square miles, and is the largest lake within California’s borders. More importantly, Clear Lake is scientifically proven to be one of, if not the oldest lake in North America, at about a half-million years in age. Archaeologists have determined that Indigenous people have lived nearby for around 14,000 years. Clear Lake drapes itself across the landscape in a diagonal formation, with its two arms at the narrows pointing southeast. Sacred and stately Mount Konocti, our dormant volcano rises across the narrows at over 4,000 feet. Both the lake and the volcano hold rich secrets and mythologies, along with their distinctive histories and exquisite beauty.

Letterbox Treasure Hunting

Letterboxing began in England in 1854 when a man called William Crossing created a publication called Guide to Dartmoor. Then, he placed cards in a bottle on a trail along the moors and when hikers found the bottle, they added their own postcards for the next person to find and then mail at the post office. Now there are formal Letterboxing clubs and Geocaching clubs all over the world. Many have themes such as poetry, stamp collecting, mysteries, etc.  

Graceful Grebes of Clear Lake

Have you seen them? The swan-like black and white water birds that are known to dance across the waters of Clear Lake, the grebes. Glorious to view at any time of the year, they are most interesting to watch in springtime when they perform a courting dance while rushing or running across the water!

Games and Entertainment of Long Ago

Does summertime mean game time to you? Maybe you enjoy some laid-back games like horseshoes, bocce ball, croquet, or Frisbee. Games are deeply rooted in history. In times past, people of all ages were game players too. Since all work and no play is not fun, the Indigenous people living in what is now Lake County put aside work for play as well.

The Wonders of the Dragonfly

The staggering diversity of life in this saturated season brings out sky hunters, a.k.a. dragonflies. These amazing creatures were among the very first winged insects to evolve on planet Earth over 300 million years ago. Residing on all but one continent, Antarctica, there are around 7,000 existing known species, according to National Geographic’s website.

Clear Lake State Park- A Walk on the Wild Side

Two days are never the same at Clear Lake State Park in Kelseyville. The morning walk I took was frosty perfection. Upon entering the park I had a choice of miles of hiking trails to choose from that meander throughout the 330 acres deeded to the state in 1947 by then-owners Fred and Nellie Dorn. The park landscape is set at 1,300 to 1,600 feet in elevation, allowing for some breathtaking views.

Middletown Trailside Nature Preserve

Our star, the sun was out in all of its glory after the winter storms, providing a respite from the intense but welcome weather this late winter. Middletown Trailside Nature Preserve’s 107 acres, with its mile-and-a-half loop, like much of the fire-ravaged lands in Lake County, is making a welcome comeback.

The Wonder of Clouds

With myriad weather patterns blowing in rain, sleet, snow, and hail during the wildly wet winter months, clouds of all descriptions were unquestionably in abundance. Did you know that clouds can be a source of deep importance, not only for weather but for the sheer enjoyment of ‘non-doing’?

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