I have always enjoyed our California summers. Yes, there’s heat. Yes, there are too many people at the beach. And yes, as a gardening enthusiast, water shortages are a problem.
But this summer has been so rough I think I may have turned a corner. Autumn is often more challenging than summer, so I’m thinking I may prefer winter. Believe me, that’s a first. (Check back with me in January.)
We left town last weekend to spend a few days with our family in Oakland. As we descended the Tejon Pass in the Tehachapi Mountains to the foot of the grade known as The Grapevine we landed into a very depressing smoky haze.
I won’t overdo with commentary about the vast number of wildfires. A quick summary of past posts indicates that I’ve specifically posted about wildfires approximately ten times in recent years and I suppose there just isn’t more to say. It’s enough to state that the conditions and circumstances are very sad.
To cope with challenging conditions, we’ve done our best to escape the heat, spend time at the beach, travel to cooler shoreline climates and entertain our grandchildren with as much summertime fun as we could provide. When I find the time to organize my photos I’ll be sharing from some of our favorite “escapes.”
But I also found close-to-home amusements, too.
Our beloved Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens experienced its own weather-related fluctuations. When temperatures climb to 110 degrees (and above on one day) you think twice about visiting.
But the summer “star of the show” was the Amorphophallus titanum or “Corpse Flower,” and with a lot of local publicity die-hard enthusiasts braved the heat to see her perform. Or that was the hope.
The excitement centered around this first-time bloomer. The Huntington has several other “Corpse Flowers” drawing huge crowds when they bloomed, the most recent occurring in August 2014. Expectations were high for this year’s show-stopper.
Curiosity centers around the plant’s release of a foul-smelling odor attracting pollinating insects.
But this summer’s main attraction, on its first attempt to flower, decided it had enough of all this heat and refused to bloom. In the plant world it’s impossible to know with certainty, but experts theorize the plant halted the process to conserve energy for a future bloom.
I don’t blame her. Seems like intelligent reasoning to me!
I’ll wait for the next blooming, but in the meantime I have my own backyard “stinky plant” and I’ve been amused by the way it is flowering even in the extremes of heat.
Stapelia is a genus of succulent from South Africa with visibly hairy flowers generating the odor of rotting flesh! Lovely, huh?
The odors, as in the “Corpse Flower,” attract pollinators. I have never seen a beautiful bee or butterfly on my Stapelia, but instead flies are frequently at the center, adding to the intrigue of a plant classified as a carrion flower.
Watching plant and animal life in the garden refreshes me with examples of resilience and survival. They are experiencing drought and extreme heat, yet they survive, and even bloom, under noticeably stressful conditions.
It’s been too hot during the day to spend much time observing outdoors, but early morning and late afternoon I make the rounds, feeding the birds and enjoying freedom from “refrigerated” air. I see so many areas waiting for my attention. But I’m also conserving my energy for a future “bloom.”
Summertime conditions have been a little wearying, but our family is doing well and that’s reason enough to be at peace.
And from time to time we simply escape.
I’m grateful for all moments of refreshment. Grab them when you can!
(banner photo is fog rolling into San Francisco Bay…not smoke)