Autumn in California -- October 2013

It may not rival The Catskills or Connecticut, but that's all right.  This time of year, after a long hot summer with little or no rain, the grass on the hillsides is dun-colored, almost a silver or even golden in certain light, and it's handsome in it's own way.  When the winter rains begin, those hills will green again.

This is my time of year.  These Indian Summer days are the best nature has to offer.  Sunshine abounds in a marvelous big blue sky.  Spent leaves, painted gold and red, ease from branches and drift lazily to the ground, twirling slowly in the still air.  Daytime temperatures are that perfect balance between not too hot and not too cold, and nighttime temps are cool enough to warrant two blankets and comfortable snuggling.  The days feel still, relaxed, perfectly content.

After leaving Salt Point St Park, Jimmy and I drove to Skyline Wilderness Park in Napa.  We spent  two heavenly days there before going home on Saturday.  We were surprised when the manager told us the park was booked, but we could camp in their overflow area.  Well, that was fine with us.  We didn't have any hookups at Salt Point either.  Looks like we didn't need to bring that electric coffee maker!  

 We actually liked it better up on this rise close to the shedding walnut tree.  Great views.

This grapevine near Tergel offered a striking display.

Napa was a riot of colors:  Each vineyard seemed to post acres of yellows, reds, golds 'n greens. 

 Two fearless black-tailed deer, out for a morning saunter.

 Jimmy on the cool and shaded Bayleaf Trail in Skyline.  We gathered some bay leaves!

We've seen these small trees.  All around.  But, what are they?  We pulled one off a tree and smashed the hull with a rock.  Inside was a creamy seed, similar to a horse chestnut.  Strange-looking.

Just by chance, on facebook of all places, I found out the tree is the California Buckeye.  The tree sheds its leaves early and looks dead by the time these pear-sized fruit appear.  One of the websites says the California Buckeye is "as common as dirt."  Maybe we can grow one, too.

 Amazing changes took place during the week we were gone.  The native dogwood outside our dining room window changed into this beauty!

All the dogwoods in Nevada City are displaying brilliant or muted reds this year.  These are in our side yard.  We had a terrific week on the coast and in Napa, but coming home made us HAPPY!

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