SF Bay Area

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Beauty and the Burn.2

I’ve been showing you the view of the Mayacamas ridge as seen from ground level in our valley. Saturday we went for a hike on a few of the trails that have now reopened in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Driving up to the entrance, along a lovely narrow canyon road that I’d not visited since before the Tubbs fire first burned this area three years ago, it was hard not cry realizing how much damage the area has sustained. Our walk went for some time right along the fire line where they’d clearly managed to hold it. You can see see that fact in the photo of the tree with a burned trunk, surrounded by green: it must have been a small hotspot just on the southern edge of the fire line, with the rest of the fire barely maintained to the north at that particular spot. You can see more such fireline photos in another post from another park and yet a third recent fire in this post from three years ago: https://somuchworldsolittletime.com/2017/11/13/walking-the-fire-line-in-annadel/

I’ll post more of these in coming weeks, now that fire danger is again low for the moment thanks to just barely enough rain, and colder temperatures. As you’ll note, I’ve decided to just give them their own name as a series…a sub-genre of county views, I guess, albeit a sad sign-of-the-times sub-genre. Stay safe and healthy in this week which for the US is normally a celebratory holiday week. Love to my friends and family here and around the world.


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On & Around Muir Beach for a Day

smw, slt has accumulated so very many photos in my now 4+ months back home that I simply must return to long format. It’s great fun to set up a daily photo, trying to mix up what I’m showing you each day – and I plan to keep doing that because, well, covid home restrictions, no social life to speak of, fill in your own personal reason for wanting specific tasks to frame your days 😊. But some locations and topics are just so photogenic that they require a longer post. And even some explanatory text.

Fear not, there’s little text because each photo, if you click on it or hover your cursor over it, will tell you pretty precisely what you are seeing. But, by way of explanation: I rarely get out by car, mainly because I rarely have a car, since I don’t own one. That means most of what I show you when I’m here at home is within about a ten-mile radius of my home since, well, ten miles out and ten miles back makes for a reasonable day’s exercise and exploration of this wonderful world I’ve been born to. BUT I do have wonderful friends who let me borrow a car sometimes – even more so during covid because, well, covid. And thus I’ve begun to range further afield as the days get shorter and colder, making bicycling a bit less appealing compared to farther-ranging hiking exploration with more clothing layers and a carbon-emissions compromise at the start and end of said activities.

What you’re seeing here are shots all taken one day last week when I explored some of the trails and roads branching out from Muir Beach, which is (I believe) a unit of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Although it’s a bit north of the hills you see immediately as you exit the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, the area has at least one ridge high enough to get a view of the western parts of SF, though downtown and the bay bridge, Alcatraz etc. are all behind a higher ridge on the left in the shots I’ll be showing you today. But fear not: I plan to get back to explore those and other trails in my lovely region again in coming months, so stay tuned for future installments.


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County Views: Beauty & The Burn

20201022S Spring Lake & Flying SwansSo we’re getting a bit more rain yesterday & today: Santa Rosa itself may reach the magic inch of rainfall before today is out. Thus, I’ve decided it may be safe for me to post these remaining photos I took in the days and weeks after the Glass Fire exploded into Santa Rosa over the Mayacamas Mountains. (Safe, in the sense that it’s less likely yet another fire will explode over the mountains. Though one really never knows, these days…) Somewhere in each of these photos you can see the burned ridges and eastern slopes of the range that separates us from Napa county, the view I see from my home, from my bike rides and hikes around most of this central part of the county. Most of it’s what I called twiced-burned, in a post not long ago.

I’ve recently been on many a hike, alone or with friends, where I know how to detect the marks from the Nuns and Tubbs fires three years ago. Things can grow back, so long as there’s time and enough rain to regrow. This landscape and ecosystem evolved with fire, but it did that evolving before our human pollution started tipping the balance and changing the atmosphere so very much. I wonder how much of this beauty our current childrens’ great-grandchildren will be able to see still. I wonder how many of our fellow citizens actually even care to ask themselves these questions and consider changing their habits and patterns to help preserve more for our future generations.


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Beginning of the End

We’re told the fire season officially ends when one inch of rain has fallen. I haven’t determined if this is one inch from a single storm, or a cumulative inch. Either way: even if we love the clear weather in this year of covid so that it’s easier to get out for walks, hikes, bike-rides, tennis or what have you…most of us have eagerly watched the skies for the kinds of clouds that, here in northern California in the late dry season, might drop real rain.

I’ve consciously put myself out of doors with no easy recourse to dryness on the days when brief, scant showers were possible: a week ago I biked seven miles away for lunch with friends, taking only my waterproof windbreaker, and indeed a few raindrops fell on my head and my bike: but not measurable rainfall, yet… Two days later, I went for a half-day hike without even the windbreaker, and was rewarded with more scattered showers that even turned to sleet! (You can see said sleet on my sleeve, and on the ground, if you look closely enough in the photos below. And yes, it’s pathetic that we’re driven to excitement over a few raindrops. We know this. Humor us.) Yesterday our good intentions were rewarded, with about .33 of an inch here in Santa Rosa. Closer to the coast, whence comes this moisture, they were blessed with that magic inch or so of rain. Still: even 1/3 of an inch is such better news than, say, another evacuation warning or more 24-hour-news-cycle stories about, say, vote recounts. So, with apologies to true wetlanders for whom the sight of raindrops beading on plants is nothing special, here’s my paean to the beginning of the end of…well, at least this particular fire season, and maybe a few other things that have been troubling our local community in recent years.

And for those with the bandwidth, the bonus video director’s cut version of “it rained in California yesterday!” 🙂


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Knowing I needed things to keep me busy after the election, I had put up a few sourdough sponges on Tuesday morning, which yesterday became eight of the twelve loaves you see above. Somehow, the demands of my little colony of wild yeast, the need to knead the dough and encourage the yeasties to go forth and multiply in the new flour I’d fed them, was a good antidote to obsessively watching vote-count updates. Furthermore, it’s clear we Americans around the nation need to try to find a few things that we can actually agree on. To the classics of apple pie and baseball, might I suggest adding bread and beauty (beauty = yesterday’s post)? (With apologies to any readers with celiac disease or gluten intolerance…if you’re just anti-carb, well, try one of the round zucchini loaves & let me know…) The little yellow tea loaves are semolina-cranberry quick breads; the rounded zucchini loaves are sourdough base with a commercial-yeast boost, and the multi-grain are the first of my sourdough loaves that pleasantly surprised me with their robust rise, even before the oven boost. Arise, wild yeast, and teach us Americans a thing or two about making the best of mucky circumstances… 🙂 I began this little colony of yeast (also known as a sourdough starter) shortly after returning from Bangladesh – before then, I’d been baking since at least the Ford presidency, but always with commercial yeast and their fairly-straightforward kneading & rising realities. Learning the needs of my colony of wild yeast is a welcome combination of biology experiment, lesson in patience, and introduction to new mysteries. May we all find fruitful and healthy distractions when needed. 🙂


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County Views — Election Special #3

Sunday I got out for a wonderful long bike ride, and saw the sign above in one of our local retirement-village neighborhoods. In that ride (25 miles), Biden-Harris signs outnumbered Trump Signs by about 25 to 1. But there were a few Trump signs. I took all the photos in the gallery below this afternoon, near the square in downtown Santa Rosa which has become a place of free speech. While I was there I saw several people on foot holding the signs you see and displaying them for the many cars driving past, some which were trucks with both Trump flags and national flags flying. Raised middle fingers and hot words were exchanged, and motors revved loudly by those in vehicles on occasion, but I observed nothing more than the exercise of free speech and an occasional excessively loud engine, happily. I’m putting these up now, as polls have begun to close on the east coast and we’re all settling in for however long we need to wait to find out who will occupy the oval office, and who will control the senate, come January. Fingers crossed that peace and respectful rule-of-law democratic process will prevail…


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