Sunday, December 06, 2009

Yellow hills

The barn where my horse lives backs on to the Los Angeles National Forest in Little Tujunga Canyon. If you aren't familiar with the geography of Los Angeles this is where the really bad fires were a few months ago. There and further east: Tujunga, La Crescenta, La Canada, Pasadena. After I ride, I take the dogs off-road, onto the trail which winds into the mountains. Sometimes we go left down to the stream the honeybees favor, or we keep going north, where you can hear the distant sound of the rifle range cutting through the stillness. Seasons change very subtly in Southern California, but if you walk in the hills every day, the changes are evident. The hills are now a pretty pale yellow color but the wild sage is still growing and smells divine if you brush by it. The oak trees are what we call evergreen oak in England and the stout dark green leaves are the same all year round. Following the creek up into the mountain is a ridge of oaks to the right and to the left the stony (probably glacial) wash which unites with the stream system from Big Tujunga Canyon in the Hansen Dam watershed. The habitat is described thusly in the River Project:

Habitats include alluvial fan scrub, riparian woodland, willow thicket, mulefat scrub, coastal sage scrub, oak woodland and conifer woodland forests. These habitats currently provide critical cover, forage, nesting and breeding sites for many bird, mammal, reptile, amphibian and invertebrate species. The area supports several threatened and endangered species listed for Los Angeles County, including California Condor, spotted owl, Least Bell’s Vireo, southern willow flycatcher, American peregrine falcon, arroyo toad, slender-horned spineflower, California red-legged frog, Santa Ana sucker, unarmored threespine stickleback, and arroyo chub.

The dogs and I meet very few people up here. Sometimes cowgirls, or Mexican charros on their gorgeous, high-stepping horses. It's just us, the bees and the herons. Knowing this and inspired by Mary Karr's Lit where she describes her experiences with AA & prayer (Here she argues that prayer and poetry come from the same source) I found myself climbing up a hillside to a huge, regal oak tree and kneeling down there, in the grass. The ground was surprisingly warm.

1 comment:

shayma said...

oh what a beautiful way to spend your day. i hope to visit that part of california one day and see your lovely horse.