Northern Calif. in March

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the emergence of spring has been an exhilarating and uplifting gift. Here are a few of the joys we are currently experiencing in Northern California.

In the valleys, the vineyards are bursting with wild mustard, and ornamental trees are flowering everywhere.

Wildflowers are just starting their show.

California poppies, our state flower, are tightly closed on rainy days and dotting the hillsides with bright orange on sunny days. Soon there will be huge patches of them.

It’s milder down in the valleys. Up on our mountain we’ve had snow and hail several times this week, along with many hours of driving rain and freezing temperatures.

Most of us are glad because more rain and snow now, mean less drought and wildfires in the fall.

After a day or two, the sun comes out and the sky once again turns bright blue.

This wild gooseberry plant on our property survived several bouts of hail this week.

Our grass is brown and crunchy for most of the year. But from January through about April, the grass is rich with chlorophyll. I find myself often staring appreciatively at blades of grass, the sun shining through their verdant membranes.

The oak woodlands are a fairyland. The deciduous oaks, in their mossy, lichen winter look, have slowly been budding for weeks. With more light in each day, the buds are growing plumper, and soon a leaf will pop out here and there.

Underneath the oaks, early wildflowers grace the earth, like buttercups and milkmaids.

Before daylight arrives, the frogs are singing their spring praises, and I often hear duetting great horned owls. For a morning person like me, who’s always up in the dark, this is a blissful greeting.

Daytime birds and creatures are also shifting with the new season. Brush rabbits are rewarded with nutrient-rich grass and weeds.

Bluebird pairs are checking out the just-cleaned nest boxes, and the titmice have switched from their winter calls to their spring love songs.

Some days there’s thick fog and hail, other days it’s mild and sunny, colorful flowers shine through it all, and the wildlife are just as excited as the humans for this new season. Hope is everywhere.

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.

95 thoughts on “Northern Calif. in March

  1. It sounds like you are having quite a variety of weather (a bit like us). We have a few days of sunshine and warmer weather imminent, so the snow that fell over the past week to 10 days may well be gone by this time next week and the Spring flowers will appear again. You also have quite an array of flowers and colourful creatures. As you say, quite uplifting, especially in these rather unusual times. 😊

    • Yes, one of the beauties of March is all the variation in weather. Our spring snow is very different than yours in the Alps, Mike. When we get snow or hail it lasts for just a few hours usually and then melts. I am in awe of your snow there. In fact I’m heading over now to see what you’ve been up to this week. Thanks so much for your visit, Mike.

  2. Ah what colour. It looks as though you are a little ahead of us with the seasons, but then you said you have hail and cold in the mountains which sounds more like we have it here in Wales. Hope is so important looking forward to the rest of the year.

    • I like knowing the different stages of spring around the northern hemisphere, and enjoyed hearing about Wales, Alastair. And I agree, hope is so very important. My thanks and warm smiles to you, Alastair.

  3. The green hills and mountains in No. California in the Spring was always my favorite time of year.

    The images and sightings are wonderful and beautiful. Thanks for sharing them. It’s beginning to green up here in places that are more open, but I’ve not seen the buttercups yet. The color of the Quince blossoms is beautiful.

    • Yes, the green hills and spring are my favorite time of year here in No. CA too, Deborah. We are surrounded by emerald colors and its just glorious. I like those quince blossoms too. They are so cheerful on rainy days, and the salmon color is really special. I hope the buttercups come soon for you, Deborah. Thanks so much.

  4. Having just come in from what is a glorious spring day here….your words resonated as did the glorious photographs. What a time of the year this is…’s medicine for the soul, mind and body….

    Thank you so much Jet for this most uplifting post. Janet πŸ™‚ `x

    • Dear Janet, it was a true pleasure to share the beauties of our berg with you today. Spring is indeed medicine for the soul. My thanks to you, too, for your soothing paintings today, also medicine for the soul. Cheers to you and the River Thames.

  5. This IS a beautiful time of year. Lovely photos and flowing captions. So, titmice have a different song in winter than in spring? Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. I live in MI and the best we have right now is two lonely crocuses. It will come.

    Happy Spring Equinox on Sunday.

    • It was wonderful to share our spring here with you, LuAnne, espec. since Michigan is still on the wintry side. Yes, the titmice have different spring songs, so do the juncos. My warm wishes to you and those two lonely crocuses, soon there will be more popping out.

  6. Colourful and lively, and full of the promise early spring – winter is almost behind us, and as you said, there are days of hope ahead. I’ll sing along with the frogs to that. Thanks, Jet! Oh, and the bunny is cute!

    • I’ll sing along with the frogs AND you, pc. The frogs are pure joy to hear. At night before bed and in the morning dark. On cold nights they’re silent, but on milder nights, they are croaking up a storm. There must be several dozen now, but when it warms up a bit more, we’ll hear hundreds. I think I’ll be able to hear your singing too, my friend. Cheers to you and Mrs pc.

  7. Dear Jet,
    beautiful pictures. We have lots of Californian poppies here as well. They are a kind of lovely weed in our garden. Here are the tulips blossoming right now and all the narcissus flower too. But the early spring now is not as colourful as at yours in California.
    Thanks for sharing
    The Fab Four of Cley
    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  8. We are finally seeing green starting to show brightness, and every bush, shrub, tree, lawn, etc, etc, will start to grow. Many animals of different species will emerge from the lethargic winter. More birds will show up in every backyard, ready to meet a partner and procreate, it’s the Nature life cycle in effect one more time. I’m happy to read your post, with a bright start for a happy Spring. I love it! Thank you, my friend. πŸ™‚

    • I liked hearing about the spring in GA and your joy with the new season and the new life it injects. Also happy to have shared the No. Calif. version, the “bright start for a happy spring,” to use your lovely words. My warmest thanks, HJ for your visit and kind words.

    • With the first day of spring coming up, it was fun to share some of the beautiful signs in our area. Thanks so much, Belinda. I’m looking forward to the wonderful photos you will procure in the upcoming season.

    • Hi Jan, you and I know well the catastrophes that come with not enough rain. For now, we revel in the emerald hillsides and all the new life that surrounds us. Cheers to that. So many thanks for your visit and comment.

  9. I’m reading this on our back patio porch and even though the sun is on the other side of the house, it’s just bright enough that I can’t appreciate the photos to their full extent. Yet even here the beauty of spring is overwhelming. Thanks for such an uplifting and beautiful post, Jet. Now that I’ve had my vaccinations, I’m hoping to get to SoCal soon and then drive back to Chicago to see all our friends there and “my” park. Have to finish those pesky taxes first, even though the deadline’s been extended. Have a wonderful weekend.


    • Wonderful that you’re enjoying some relaxation on your back porch today, Janet. And really nice that you’ve had your vaccinations, too. There are many of us in Calif., myself included, who are still waiting for the go-ahead to get vaccinated. But I’m lucky to have a good amount of outdoor space to frolic in, and am glad I could share it here. How very exciting for you to soon be heading back to see your friends and park. I look forward to following along on your cross-country trip. Thank you, as always, so very much.

  10. I love spring and the feeling of new beginnings created by the vegetation awakening from hibernation. Colorful wildflowers are always an uplifting sight. Your image of the Oak hill path had me wanting to jump in the photo and go for a stroll. πŸ˜€

    • I really like that oak hill path photo, too, Ingrid, I’m glad it reached out to you. That day the air was so fresh and the moss on the oaks was beautiful. We walked to the end of the park and turned around to return to our car, and just then the sky opened up and hail and rain deluged us for the whole walk back. But it didn’t matter, it was all so lovely. I am sure you know how that feels. Glad I could share it with you. Thanks so very much.

  11. It seems you’re well ahead of us, although the truth may be that we’re behind where we’d otherwise be, thanks to our remarkable freeze. I was surprised to see the vineyards filled with wild mustard. I wondered if it was the same invasive species that’s such a problem elsewhere, and it is. I found this interesting article in the LA Times that explains some of the things that make it such a nasty plant, including its contribution to fire danger.

    We have our own problems with invasive plants of one sort or another, and it’s always intrigued me that all of them are so darned attractive! I certainly did enjoy seeing your natives. The ‘milkmaid’ is brand new to me. I’ve never heard of that one, but it’s beautiful.

    • I’m glad you liked the frog, platypus man. That day we were down at the neighbor’s pond and had to be careful with each step we took, so as not to crush one. They were everywhere. And their chorus at night right now is absolutely astounding. Glad to share the beauty of frogs and spring with you, thank you.

    • I’m really glad I could bring the glory of spring to you today, Frank, and hopefully it will hold you until it arrives in southern Alberta. It won’t be long. Cheers and my warmest thanks.

    • Hi Bill, No, the gooseberry plants, oddly enough, do not produce berries. But we sure do enjoy finding them in the brush and watching them produce flowers. Thanks so much for your visit, and sending smiles your way in VA.

    • It’s a delight to share the miracles of our Calif. spring with you, Lisa. And with the first day of spring here now, you’ll soon see budding trees too. Thanks so much.

    • Yes, spring flowers, flutey birdsong and sometimes even a little sweet fragrance from some of the blooms. Your spring is right around the corner, Sherry. Thanks so much for your visit.

  12. Everything looks so lovely out there, Jet! It’s a magical time when there are so many blooms and blossoms just before the trees start to leaf out. I’m impressed by that sunny wild mustard all over the vineyard. And I’ve never heard of an Oak Titmouse before — he’s adorable — thanks for introducing me! (We have Tufted Titmice here.)

    • I am so happy I could share some of the magic of our spring with you, Barbara. The vineyards are loaded with mustard this time of the year and it is indeed a “sunny” and bright sight. Our oak titmouse is similar to your tufted but with more gray, and not the pretty peach markings on the flanks. A joy to have you stop by, Barbara, thank you.

  13. I feel happier having visited and absorbed all of this spring beauty through your post and photos. We have had some warmer days but again yesterday another dump of snow. winter is not done with us yet farther north.
    I hope with the moisture received , the wildfire problem won’t be so extreme this year. Take care and all the best to you and Athena from Dave and I.

    • I am happy I could bring some spring moments of sunshine to you in Saskatchewan, Sue, with a reminder that spring is right around the corner. Thank you for your warm words and lovely visits today, and sending my best to you and Dave.

  14. Ooh, Jet, this makes me homesick. I heard the mustard is great this season. Love the photos and taking a walk with you. Such a great time of year in NorCal! Hope you and Athena are enjoying springtime. πŸ€—

    • I’m glad I could share the NorCal beauties with you this year, Jane, in your first spring in SoCal. Sending my best wishes and thanks to you, hoping your spring is delightful.

  15. Thanks for sharing the beauty and charm of Northern California!! I love listening to the birds early in the morning and how wonderful you get to listen to an owl duet. Everything looks so beautiful in Athena’s wonderful photos and love the stunning blue of your western bluebird.

  16. The variability in the temperatures and the weather across the region including mountains and valleys sounds like it could be challenging at this time of the year. I do hope you get more rainfall ahead of the hotter months to come. I loved seeing the wonderful springtime flowers as well as the longer shots and of course the bunnies, birds and the frog. It looks to be a satisfyingly diverse and cheering springtime.

    • I so enjoyed your comment, Carol, thank you. Our spring is indeed a “satisfyingly diverse” and cheerful time, I liked your words. I, too, hope we get more rainfall, but it is looking like there isn’t going to be much more, unfortunately. Although it has always been no rain after the spring months, until winter, the recent years are proving to be a result of climate change, with consistently less rainfall in the winter months resulting in starker drought. We are figuring out how to adjust to this. The green bonanza of spring, therefore, is more uplifting than ever. Your visits are a pleasure, and so are your posts.

      • Well enjoy the spring, though I am sorry more rain does not look too likely. The effects of climate change are already so starkly evident across the globe, which is beyond sobering. We have had the opposite extreme of too much rain in parts of the eastern regions of SA and among other adverse effects farmer’s crops are rotting in the fields. Other parts of the country are suffering extended droughts. Hard to believe that so little is being done at national levels to mitigate against climate change.
        Despite all of that I enjoyed visiting and your post about your wonderful springtime.

  17. I so enjoyed seeing (and hearing) springtime through your senses! And, you’re right; it is such a HOPE-FILLED season! Thanks for sharing yours.

    • Always a delight to share the thrills of our spring here with you, Nan. I hope in future springs you will be able to visit again, like in the old days when we could travel and cavort across the country. Thank you so very much.

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