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Fireworks at eye level – that is something I hadn’t seen before. We hiked out to Cypress Abby above Arena Cove to watch the Point Arena 4th of July Fireworks and it was quite spectacular. The cliffs are about 80 feet above sea level, so you can watch the fireworks being launched from the pier, climbing their way up into the sky and then explode. Another advantage of being up high is that you don’t smell and inhale the smoke. We could see it filling the harbor.

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Earlier in the day, Fort Bragg was holding its annual 4th of July Salmon BBQ. We had a nice visit with Congressman Jared Huffman who was on BBQ duty and doing a great job. The salmon was delicious!

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The garden is doing quite well. The beans looked happy and I harvested the first batch which was very tasty. Nothing like home-grown food!

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As always, the North Coast was magical and we had a wonderful weekend visiting with friends, hiking, gardening, cutting firewood and even enjoying our first dinner outside on the deck this year. I can’t wait to be back.

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IMG_1603I was suffering from Enchanted Meadows withdrawal after not having been there in over a month. As always, it lived up to its name: 80 degrees in the shade, blue skies, quiet except for the sounds of nature. One of my favorite sounds on the hillside will always be the buzzing and chirping of the hummingbirds. Our big Knifophia, their equivalent of catnip, was blooming in its orange glory and the Anna’s and Allen’s hummingbirds were making a racket battling over the nectar.

The tomato and squash plants in the pots are doing great. In fact, we harvested the first three squash already.

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The cherry tomatoes in the ground are doing OK, but not nearly as well as the plants in the pots with the primo soil. I have to admit that, but am still reluctant to give up gardening in the ground. Call me old-fashioned!

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It rained about half an inch late last week, so the soil was still fairly moist and had that wonderful earthy smell. The moisture also left condensation on an upside down garbage can covered with its lid that apparently made a perfect hiding place for two Pacific tree frogs that John discovered when he lifted the lid. He decided to use another garbage can for his project and leave the frogs be. There is room for everybody at Enchanted Meadows.

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I’m feeling rested and recharged after a short infusion of magic, but can’t wait to return. I will never tire of the beauty, tranquility and peace this amazing place has to offer.

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The drought has been brutal on every level in California. We are losing salmon, crab, other fisheries. Water is scarce, so scarce that I have not dared to use any surplus water. Our drip irrigation system in Anchor Bay has been off for two years. I barely remembered how to garden! This weekend we arrived to lush and green grounds and we decided we needed to do at least a little growing, just get our hands dirty. I dug up two boxes and they are ready for planting.

IMG_0609We will do minimal planting, just enough to produce some food and spread some drought resistant – and deer resistant – plants. The Irises are just stating to do their beautiful, fragrant magic.

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Thank you Anchor Bay for being such an inspiration!

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I never thought I could get this excited about rain. I guess four years of drought contributed to it. There is something magical about water drops embracing the forest: it dampens the sound and light, but heightens the smell. It’s like a calming yet invigorating hug.

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One of my favorite side effects of rain are the mushrooms that pop up everywhere. I used to pick them with my mom when I was little, but she always made sure I didn’t pick anything poisonous. It’s beyond time that I learn my mushrooms so that I can pick them on my own…maybe this year.

Here are some specimen I found on our hill:

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Pelican BluffsThere will be another spectacular trail coming this summer. Read all the details about Pelican Bluffs in the Mendocino Beacon. I will be one of the first to hike this!

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AB 11.21.15Anchor Bay just is the perfect place to get away. Saturday and Sunday offered balmy days in the mid 60s, I could see the fog out over the ocean, but it never came in. Sunday, I watched and listened to a pair of hawks, I think red shouldered hawks, having a conversation across the forest. It was remarkable. One of them dove down at high speed making a racket and landed in a tree very close to me. It proceeded singing an elaborate song which was repeated by the other bird quite a distance away.They went back and forth with the same song for about half an hour.

I also watched a quiet critter, a praying mantis. This fascinating and beneficial insect hung around one of the sliding doors for two days; I saw it on the screen door and then under a window. Look how perfectly it blends in.

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It’s hard, close to impossible, for me not to garden. I just love digging in the dirt and love it even more if I can put something in the dirt that produces food or beautiful flowers. But with the extreme drought we’ve had in California for four years now, I can’t in good conscience turn on the irrigation on our hill. Mind you, it took many, many hours to put drip irrigation on every plant on the hill, but it’s all fed by one faucet. Seeing it turn on, drip on each plant and make it grow was one of the most gratifying sights. Just a few years ago, I had visions of a lush hillside filled with food and pollinator-attacting flowers. BUT that plan has to be on hold now or forever. Instead I am focusing on plants that survive without any irrigation. I’ve been moving around volunteer lavendars and kniphophias, bringing in natives, trying to come up with a (temporary) drought plan.

tomatoesHowever, living in the Anchor Bay banana belt part time and in the Pacifica fog full time, we had to come up with a tomato plan. So we are going to try three potted tomato plants on the deck – safe from deer, safe from Redwood roots, and safe from whoever wants to eat them. Fingers crossed…

The other water I am not willing to spare is two cups to make hummingbird sugar water. I filled the feeder and within minutes the resident male Anna’s hummingbird flashed his iridesence at me and then sat down to drink for several minutes. I don’t ever want to give up the privilege to see that.

photo 1(1)While I was weedwhacking some of the hillside to make it look a little more presentable – without anything planted and lushly growing – I saw my first garder snake of the season slither away into a kniphopha. I was thrilled. A few moments later I found one of his dead brothers up the hill. Not sure what killed this beauty.

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