My morning walks this week have been blessedly cool and shrouded in fog…please join me.
In Northern California this time of year the nights have become longer and cooler, and fog lingers in our valley until about 9 a.m.
I love it like this. Droplets in the air and fog dripping from the leaves means moisture…a pleasant respite from the monthslong drought typical of our summers. It brings us hope for rainy months in the winter ahead.
The local deer, the black-tailed species, quietly graze in the hush of the fog. They are a sub-species of mule deer. (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus)
In the summer the wild turkeys were often under cover as they raised their vulnerable chicks. But now they’re out in the mornings in family flocks, feeding on the ground seeds.
We do have changing colored leaves on the west coast in autumn, though not as prominent as our American friends in the east.
Color comes out in the liquidambar trees, pyracantha and other berries, deciduous oaks and still-flowering ornamental gardens.
The California buckeye trees (Aesculus californica), an endemic and the only buckeye native to the state, are completely leafless already. For a month they have had no leaves, baring only their dangling poisonous seeds, also known as horse chestnuts.
On my walk I found a fallen buckeye and brought it home to crack open and show you.
Gradually the morning quietness perked up with the chatter of songbirds as the shrouded sunshine began its rise.
With the autumn weather new songbird migrants have arrived from the north, including the Oregon dark-eyed junco subspecies, coming to join the resident juncos. Junco hyemalis.
The clear, plaintive notes of a white-crowned sparrow cut through all the fog…but the loud and distinctive honking of the Canada Geese quickly drowned it out.
The geese congregate every morning in this field. As we walked closer, we witnessed smaller groups descending through the fog, seeing them long after hearing them.
Eventually the sun started to burn off the fog and a patch of blue sky peeked through here and there, until its light and warmth had pierced the heavy marine layer.
The sun brightened the garden colors and highlighted the friendliest scarecrow I have ever seen.
This time of year, chili peppers can be seen in many gardens.
This golden-crowned sparrow had a moment of glory when the sun brightened his namesake crown.
As our final steps brought us to the front door, an Anna’s hummingbird bid us adieu.
Written by Jet Eliot.
Photos by Athena Alexander.