It poured down rain yesterday and thunder rolled across the sky. This was the third warm, wet monsoonal system to whoosh up from the south across Central California this summer: very unusual for this era of our climate. With the rain came petrichor, the complex sweet odor of freshly moistened soil. For a few hours, there was no more dust. Coincidentally, this storm came on the anniversary of the 2020 fire. The weather prediction centers know our memory and assured us that this system was not like the one two years ago. Nevertheless, many people watched the sky carefully. Fire spotting helicopters combed the hills. No fires have yet erupted, but sometimes they smolder for days after a lightning strike awaiting a heatwave…
Inland, it has been hot but cooler on the coast: several days were in the low 80s this last week at Molino Creek Farm, but the evenings were cool and so on balance the weather has been glorious. This is the longest stretch of the most beautiful weather we’ve seen in a long, long time.
Good Pears, Apples Coming
Apples like warm days and cool nights. The pears are ripening. After a sprint from small to medium sized fruit, apples seem to have taken a break in enlarging, but perhaps it’s our patience- it will be some weeks before they are ripe. On the other hand, we literally can’t wait for the pears now: it is a race to pick them before they get too ripe on the tree. Three harvests from the Big Comice, one week apart each: the first two picks have been delicious, but the third pick is sporting many ‘water balloons’ with overripe, brown and fermenting centers. It is an art to recognize the correct coloring of each type of pear in order to know when to pick them. Fruit separation strength should also be a clue that we might heed. Live and learn! Community orchardists can’t take enough pears home, so understory fruit fall critter feasting is heavily underway. Some homes are abuzz with dehydrators, others’ fridges are stuffed with pears, counters crowded with bowls overflowing.
Future Fuels for Fires Falling
Today, there was a CRACK and an extended rushing crash: another huge burn-damaged tree fell on the hillsides above the farm. It is dangerous to walk in the forest. This one fell with no breeze, just a still warm late afternoon. The hundreds of fire-killed trees are starting to fall. Their crisscrossed trunks will pile up across thousands of acres awaiting the next conflagration, which will encounter this fuel and roar hotly, cooking the soil and all life nearby. No number of termites or unusual monsoonal rains will be enough to rot those downed trees before the next fire.
The mother deer who had two young not long ago is all by herself now.
The Cooper’s Hawk is still terrorizing the birds. The orchard remains quieter than normal- not so many acorn woodpeckers and jays calling as they were constantly before. This bird killing hawk has been very effective at changing the tone of the birds across the farm.
Something is assiduously killing paper wasp nests. The huge one hanging in the pony trailer- torn apart and no more wasps. Three ground dwelling paper wasp nests dug up and dead as soon as the mower cleared around them. Its funny, we don’t smell or see skunks…maybe foxes do the same? What got the hanging one?
For now, only the goldenrod is blooming in the natural areas around the farm. The bright yellow tall pointy clusters of fuzzy blossoms bow and sway on 2’ tall flexuous leafy stems…only a few, here and there- not a very common plant and not enough to help feed the hungry bees which now swarm onto rotten fruit and into the crop fields where tomatoes, squash, and peppers are loaded with pollinators.
These Still Nights
The silent night brings out the darkness creatures. Early evening is dark and moonless. And out come the nocturnal ants- big shiny ones with a bit of dark rusty brown…also tiny shiny ones all black and with elongated sections. A gauntlet of black widows still occupies gopher holes in the unimproved roadbeds. There’s a harvest mouse sitting in the dusty road, ducking silently into a gopher hole. Black field crickets. Brown crickets. Tiny cockroaches. A barn owl screeches overhead now close, then far away. The still cool night makes clouds when I exhale. Distant waves crashing, a rhythmic pulsing, though muffled in the nighttime air.
Hoping these still quiet nights bring peace to your restful sleep.
-This post originally published at my weekly blog at Molino Creek Farm’s webpage and on that Facebook site