Nature Surprises During a Sunday Drive

The key principle underlying the power of Nature to inspire is how easily Nature surprises. And in those surprises, our minds are suddenly removed from dwelling on the daily mundane, and instead propelled into contemplating the wonder of life.

The surprise can be seeing a flash of bright blue as a screaming Scrub Jay flies through the shrubbery, an emerging wild cucumber vine pushing up through moist clods of earth, or a coyote sitting quietly in a vacant lot, looking right at you.

Today, for us, it was spying a beautiful stand of old-growth mission manzanita chaparral (aka, Xylococcus bicolor) in a wild canyon surrounded by rural living, bisected by the signs of human activity. But there it was, remaining pristine, rich with native life forms, a remarkable island of hope.

We had been on a Sunday journey to find an accessible deposit of diorite, a granite-like, plutonic igneous rock that we needed to complete our backyard, graphic version of the rock chart, a useful teaching tool used to help teach the intrigues of geology.

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Breathe Again – Become a Chaparral Naturalist

Our New Class Begins February 25, 2023.
Please Join Us by Applying on Our Website.


There’s nothing quite like discovering kindred spirits at a neighborhood pub. Apparently, everyone had been forewarned and was happy about it – I had come to recruit for Nature, with flyers in hand.

The friendly spirits I encountered led to the only reasonable response one could have at a pub. “Well,” I slowly announced with the grizzled cowboy accent I often use at times like this, “I need to join ya all in a drink.”

As I rose to go to the bar, I was quickly informed I could just scan the code embedded in the tabletop and order that way. I looked at the hieroglyphics, waved my hand, and proceeded to the bar, muttering along the way, “Internet nonsense.”

I was greeted by a smiling bar tender, ordered an IPA she thought was best, and handed her my credit card. “Keep the tab open?” “Sure.” Before going back to the table with my brew, I handed the bar tender the flyer for our Chaparral Naturalist class that I pulled from my back pocket. “You look exactly like the kind of adventurous spirit we would love to have in our program!”

“You know, I might just do that!”

Class of 2015 – our first year

At some point during the evening, I was asked to say something about our class. I climbed up on the bench and provided a somewhat boisterous, encouraging message about how everyone there would enjoy our naturalist program because it would offer them a wonderful break from a hectic world. “Our class will help all of you remember how comforting and inspiring your original home really is – Nature!”

In the midst of my oratory, a pub employee came over and requested that I climb down from my platform. I complied after a quick quip, “But we’re having so much fun!” Everyone laughed. Back on the ground, I handed the employee the class flyer. “You’re the kind of leader we need. You should sign up to become a Chaparral Naturalist.”

He looked confused, but ended up leaving with a somewhat cautious, crooked smile on his face.

Class of 2016

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I Am Spring

October.
The time of heat and drought is ending.
Temperamental bouts of rain are near.
In anticipation,
manzanita flower buds are swelling, sagebrush flowers are blooming,
and White-crowned Sparrows are arriving.
Signs of me;
signs of spring.

Elsewhere,
dead of winter beckons,
flowers have faded,
leaves turning gold, red, and brown,
and the birds have left for richer land;
my land.
I am spring.

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