Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice

Mt. Tom from the Buttermilks West of Bishop, California

May  Your 
Winter Solstice
Be filled with 

Awe and Wonder

And, of course, May You 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Yule Tree

A gorgeous Ephedra  (Ephedra nevadensis)  growing
along the gravel road West of Mono Lake
in November, 2016.

This year we brought our Yule Tree back with us from the Eastern Sierras. Since we were driving through the Toiyabe National Forest and the National Forest Service has an office just South of Bridgeport on Highway 395, we stopped and paid for a permit to cut two trees (for a whopping $10.00 per tree, double what we paid the last time we cut a tree which was a number of years ago). On our return from the Bishop area we took Highway 182 North out of Bridgeport to Nevada Highway 338 which bisects the North most section of the Toiyabe National Forest. The Forest Service is focusing on removing some Pinyon Pines from this area to open more habitat for the Sage Grouse. Apparently the Pinyon Pines have encroached upon and markedly reduced this bird's habitat thus causing the population to dramatically drop.

I love Pinyon Pines (Pinus monophylla). They have a wonderful fragrance no other pine has. These trees are also the source of pine nuts. I learned while shopping at Manor Market in Bishop that pine nuts can no longer be legally harvested and sold commercially since they are essential to the Native Peoples of California way of life. The Cultural Center in Bishop has a number of wonderful exhibits focusing on the harvesting, preparing and using pine nuts as well as the rhythm of living in relationship with the cycle of the production of this nutritious nut.

Cathie preparing to cut Tanis' Yule Tree.

This is the Pinyon Pine we all chose for our Yule Tree.

Dwight securing both trees atop Stella.
Ready to roll onto Minden, Nevada where we spent the night
before returning to MuRefuge with our Yule Tree.
Auntie T, aka Tanis Walters, with her Yule Tree
decorated with collected treasures.
Our fragrant Pinyon Pine adorned for celebrating 
the Yule, aka Winter Solstice, sitting in the corner 
of MuRefuge's Great Room.
As the shortest day and longest night draw near may we all

Friday, December 16, 2016

Thanksgiving Past

To celebrate our anniversary and Thanksgiving we spent some time in the Eastern Sierras. This year's sojourn was further South than we have previously spent much time, in the Owens Valley. Dwight's wish was to explore the early native peoples' (Nuumu and Newe, now commonly referred to as Paiute and Shoshone respectively) petroglyphs.  

We both are of the opinion that at this time of the year the light during the day illuminates the natural world to glorious hues. The late Galen Rowell has made famous the "light" in this area  and his work is featured at the Mountain Light Gallery located in an old bank building on Main Street in Bishop. The night sky is often clear, thus bright with brilliant stars since there is minimal light pollution during the dark hours in this area. Galen Rowell's son, Tony, is following in his father's footsteps bringing us gorgeous time lapsed photography of the brilliance of this night sky.

We made our home base in a small house moved from Manzanar, the now historical site where Japanese were interred during WW II further South on Highway 395. We were on the far North edge of Bishop and across the road from public lands. We were told we could walk from here to Lake Tahoe on these lands.    

Cathie and Shasta out for a early morning walk along
Dixon Road just South of the house.

On one of our morning hikes we came across the most
spectacular and largest stand of native
California Wild Rose I have ever seen.
The hips provide foo during the Winter for
birds and 4 leggeds.

The landscape we walked through on our daily midmorning hikes.

The Owens Valley Paiute-Shoshone Cultural Center
on West Line Street was designed by the late Michael Black
of Sebastopol. The exhibits in the interior were extremely
well done and shared much history of these
indigenous people of the Owens Valley.
A stunning Paiute beaded treasure we bought at the center
to adorn our Yule Tree year after year.

One day we spent enjoying the Bishop Petroglyph Drive on Fish Slough Road which was unpaved, dusty. Three sites are spaced a few miles apart: the Fish Slough Petroglyph Site was difficult to locate but once we did we were pleasantly surprised to see our first ever Ringtail that quickly scurried beneath a huge rock where its den was obviously located.  

Do you notice the similarity of shape of the above "rock art" and this above petroglyph?

The second site: Chicago Canyon Petroglyph
 was a magnificent display of the ancient natives' art work.

Another day our excursion included the Inyo County Millpond Park for our morning walk. What an impressive park with a huge pond for Summer swimming, baseball playing field and a myriad of other facilities for families to have a grand Summer day. Our focus was traveling along Old Highway 395  to the little town of Rovana in the heart of Round Valley where thousands of Mule Deer migrate for the Winter, escaping the harsh weather in the Sierras where they live the rest of the year. Since, with the climate change and all, the weather is pretty mild the deer were scarce. There were a few including a magnificent buck. These Mule Deer do indeed look different than the deer around MuRefuge. We did however see an abundance of the Mule Deer's food for the Winter in Owens Valley, Rabbitbrush, which is stunning in the wintery light.

After the area received a light dusting of snow and more in the higher elevations, we drove out West Line Street to the Buttermilks. Shasta was so happy to romp around in the snow and she did so until she began biting at her paws that were covered with icy snow, at which time we corralled her into Stella (our trusty Prius). See the upcoming post, "Winter Solstice," for an amazing picture taken here.

This gorgeous view of Mono Lake is taken from one of our
favorite walks in the Mono Lake Basin. As we arrived we
were greeted by a Golden Eagle in flight.

The beginning and the ending of our drive along Highway 395 from Walker River Canyon to Bishop we punctuated with a stop in Bridgeport to enjoy the magical, mystical ancient energy of the wide meadow surrounding our previously favorite place to stay in the Eastern Sierras. Picnics were enjoyed both times in very brisk weather but the sun was out and we had on our down jackets. Shasta's natural coat she carries with her every where kept her plenty warm.

As you read of our Thanksgiving past and recent anniversary celebration, as well as enjoy the pictures, may you