Posts Tagged: geology

Thorns, Roses and Buds with Grass Peeking Through

Ethnobotany at Pathfinder Ranch

Sunshine and her Ethnobotany students discuss some of the ways the Cahuilla used plants

Every Friday when we meet for our staff meeting we start out by sharing our thorns*, roses, and buds.  The thorns are our rough points from the previous days.  Our roses tell about the highlights and moments where we laughed.  We save the buds for last.  The buds tell about what we’re looking forward to down the road.

Geology Course at Pathfinder Ranch

Dandelion leads the way as her Geology class rocks out!

One of my buds recently has been the arrival of the wet season.  The idea of me being excited about rainy and snowy weather would likely raise an eyebrow or two among the other outdoor education staff here at the ranch.  After all, I’m usually one of the first to opt out of any scenario where I might end up cold and wet.  Still, it’s a bud nonetheless.

Mallard at Pathfinder Ranch Lake

This migrating male Mallard decided to take a break at our lake.

Why?  It’s because the precipitation now and in the coming months will ensure that there will be life throughout the valley and mountains later in the year.  Without the rains we would miss our Desert Sand Verbenas, Goldfields, and Miner’s Lettuce.  Should the snows pass us by the frogs and toads would have no vernal springs for their tadpoles.  I’m also pretty sure Dandelion and Dragonfly would be really disappointed if they didn’t get to go sledding at least once this winter.

In the past couple of weeks we’ve run the gamut of weather at the ranch.  We’ve hiked in t-shirts in the sunshine, woken up to a fresh blanket of snow over the ground, seen ice on the lake, and endured three-day stretch of gloom and drizzle.  As cold as it’s been at times there has even been a sighting or two of lizards.  Lizards!  In January!  The grass is starting to peek through the sand down in the wash, too.  Winter can be so weird here.  I like it!  What’s your favorite season of the year?

OTR (On The Road):  If you’re looking for someplace to go enjoy the wet season I’d recommend checking out Tahquitz Canyon down in Palm Springs.  We visited there recently to learn more about the cultural history of the area and about the local plants.  It’s a great place to learn about the Cahuilla even if it’s your first encounter with their culture and traditions.  The 2-mile roundtrip hike up to the huge waterfall at the end of the canyon trail will make the trip totally worthwhile!  Be aware that there is an entrance fee that goes toward taking care of the canyon and sustaining the Agua Caliente band of the Cahuilla.

That’s all for now from the ranch.  I hope you are enjoying the weather wherever you are!

Your favorite naturalist ever,
Mountain Goat

“All seasons have something to offer.” – Jeannette Walls

* Did you know roses don’t actually have thorns?  They have prickles instead.  Thorns are really modified branches or stems; prickles are a bit like nature’s equivalent of having spiked hair.